The Milli Story
THE IDEA IS BORN
Following the tragic loss of her husband and infant daughter in a house fire, Milli considers re-entering the workforce to follow her passion for fashion and business. With one young son and another on the way, the idea of starting her own business begins to develop and will become the stepping stone needed to help overcome her loss.
A NEW BEGINNING
While vacationing Milli meets her future husband — Pittsburgh businessman, Allen Gould. She moves to Pittsburgh with her two sons, Mark & Ben.
Milli, Allen and the boys move back to Hamilton so Allen can focus on his business in Canada.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
With the encouragement of her husband and a $5000 loan, Milli opens her first store in downtown Hamilton across from City Hall. Allen and Milli would drive to Toronto to buy merchandise from Canadian vendors and distributors.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Downtown Hamilton redevelopment forces Milli to move to its current location — originally a rooming house and variety store on the outskirts of town. The astute vision of Allen & Milli to create a destination store is born in the process.
MILLI AS A LABEL
Milli begins to design and manufacture her own clothing line. The two buildings on the property behind the store are converted into a head office and a warehouse. Developing a reputation for her keen fashion eye and attention to customer service, women from Toronto flock to the store in Hamilton.
The wholesale side of the business continues to flourish. Milli achieves notoriety for dressing the likes of Joan Collins and Linda Evans on the television show, Dynasty.
MEDIA SALUTES “MILLI CRAZE”
Milli continues to develop a large customer base with her ‘shops-within-a-shop’ environment. Again, she is one of the first to embrace this new retail concept. Milli receives accolades from the press and socialites appearing in her fashions. The ‘Milli Craze’ continues.
A SECOND TRAGEDY
Tragedy touched Milli a second time with the passing of her beloved husband, Allen. Again, Milli threw herself into her work to help cope with the loss.
THE TORONTO DREAM
A lifetime dream comes true with the opening of a second location, this time in Toronto. The new location gives Milli the opportunity to create a European style boutique for all of her loyal Toronto customers.
A HOME OF OUR OWN
The Toronto business continues to grow and the Milli family decided to build their own standalone destination store at the corner of Roxborough & Avenue Road. This lifestyle store combines curated collections from around the world as well as books, interiors and other novelties. Feeling like an extension of her home - Milli spends the majority of her time here.
A CELEBRATION OF STYLE
Milli’s 55 years in business as a fashion icon and groundbreaking entrepreneur is celebrated with a full scale retrospective exhibition at The Art Gallery of Hamilton. For years our dedicated and loyal customers have shared their stories, known affectionately as Milli Moments, with us. Many also allowed us to peek into their closets to discover special pieces they had held on to over the years. The Milli Archive was established to recognize Milli’s unique attention to detail and style that had stood the test of time. Milli - A Celebration of Style celebrated these pieces, the women who wore them and Milli’s role in bringing them together with her signature flare.
On October 13, 2019 we lost our matriarch. Milli was admired in her hometown of Hamilton, Toronto and internationally for her namesake business and many inspiring philanthropic initiatives. Her inbounding energy, creativity and fierce loyalty will be remembered by those touched by her strong determination and gentle heart.
She leaves her Milli family with the foundation to grow and carry on her great work into the future.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Milli pivoted in 2020 with the addition of this online shopping destination. The Milli team continues to curate fashion and lifestyle products from around the globe. Milli’s attention to detail, unique eye and passion for the business lives on in all that we do. Her two sons are actively growing the business and are poised for continued success.
We look forward to getting back to business as usual soon and to welcoming you - our extended Milli family - back to our stores.