Nancy Talbot (August 17, 1920 – August 30, 2009) was an American
businesswoman who co-founded the
Talbots women's retail clothing chain
with her husband, Rudolf Talbot.
Early life and career
Nancy Orr was born in Charlevoix, Michigan, which was the location of
her family's summer home. She was raised in Chicago, Illinois.
She graduated from
The Shipley School
The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, a
prestigious private prep school. Nancy went on to attend Radcliffe
College for one year, but left in 1944 to take a position with the Red
Red Cross assigned her to a military reconnaissance unit
France near the end of World War II. It was in
France where she met
her future husband, Rudolf Talbot. The couple married in 1945.
The couple returned to the United States. Her father-in-law opened a
Johnny Appleseed clothing store in Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1945,
but died suddenly, which forced Rudolf Talbot to take over the
business. Rudolf Talbot dropped the Johnny Appleseed franchise in
1947, because he disliked the clothing he was selling. Rudolf and
Nancy started a new clothing store, which they first called Talbots.
The business soon moved to a single-family clapboard house in Hingham,
Massachusetts. The couple painted the
Talbots store's door red,
which remains a trademark of
Talbots stores up to the present day.
Nancy and Rudolf opened three new stores in
Massachusetts during the next 10 years in order to target female
consumers who were relocating to the suburbs following World War
II. Rudolf Talbot focused on expanding the
Talbots company, while
Nancy worked as the company's buyer, purchasing agent and held
creative control over the merchandise. They dropped their men's and
children's clothing lines gradually to focus exclusively on women's
Talbots sold their company, along with its four existing stores at
the time, to
General Mills in 1973.
Nancy Talbot remained at
Talbots as a vice president until her retirement in 1983. By the
time she retired,
Talbots had grown to approximately 30 stores with a
catalog circulation of more than 10 million copies per year. As of
Talbots had 586 locations and more than $1.5 billion in
Her husband, Rudolf Talbot, died in 1987.
Nancy Talbot died from complications of
Alzheimer's disease on August
30, 2009, at her home in Boulder, Colorado, at the age of 89. She
was survived by her two daughters, Polly and Jane, six grandchildren
and six great-grandchildren.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Grimes, William (2009-09-03).
"Nancy Talbot, Who Helped Build a
Retail Empire, Dies at 89". New York