#SWC No. 14: Strong Jewish Women in History – Ida Rosenthal Founder of Maidenform

Today we’re doing something different!

I am interviewing a dead person!

That’s right!

I’ve been thinking of this idea for a long time but wasn’t sure how to incorporate it into the Strong Women’s Club, and maybe here is the best place!

So I’m going to to a series of quickie podcasts, where I talk about dead Jewish women.


What that means is that we’ll be exploring, in the short form, the history of Jewish women leaders.

Let’s get to it; we don’t have much time!

For the Strong Women’s Club podcast this week, which will be released this Wednesday, I interview Judith Rosenbaum, who is the executive director of the Jewish Women’s Archive.

So I’ve spent some time on that site, which I have grown to appreciate, as a vast repository of information that is all interesting and exciting and relevant to the work that I’m doing!

On there, this week, is a highlight of Ida Cohen Rosenthal, because Jan 9th, which is today, the day I’m recording this episode, was Ida’s birthday, way back in 1886, in Russia.

So let’s talk about Ida, and how she changed our lives!

Do you know who she was?

Ida Cohen Rosenthal was one of the founders of Maidenform, who invented the bra!!
So let me tell you how they got the idea, and how, even though she invented the bra, Ida was a true feminist. An entrepreneur! A Strong Jewish woman and a leader in her time.

Her name is Ida Kaganovich, and she immigrated to New York in 1905, where she Americanized her name to Cohen, so she became Ida Cohen.

She then met and married William Rosenthal, a good Jewish boy, but because she was not willing to go and work for anybody else, she bought a sewing machine and decided to become a seamstress.

After ten whole years of being a seamstress, she and her husband, William, together with Enid Bissett opened a custom dress shop.

This was in the 1920’s.

So back then, the popular fashion was the flapper dress. And flapper dresses were only suited to women with very flat chests, and the poor women would wrap their boobs up, to make them look flattered. Make them look like boys or “boy form”
Ida was not having any of that. She wasn’t going to flatten her boobs for anybody.
So she invented the bra, where the boobs were held in cups, had straps over the shoulder and fastened in the back! Making you look like a girl, or “Maiden Form,” hence the history of the name.

In the beginning, they were giving away the brassieres for free, to go under the dresses. But women began to ask for them so much, that they quickly closed the dress shop, and changed the name of the business to Maidenform!
William was in charge of the designs, and he invented the different cup sizes and maternity bras. Ida got the patent for adjustable shoulder straps.

But Ida was in charge of the business side of things. And she was a genius marketer.
She came up with the ad line “ I dreamed I was…whatever… in a Maidenform Bra”.

That advertising campaign was used for 20 years successfully!!

So even after Enid retired and William died, and Ida became the president of the company, Maidenform continued to grow and prosper.
Sadly, Ida had a stroke, then died in 1973.

But Maidenform is still run and owned by the Rosenthal family, their daughter, Beatrice, was the president, and also their granddaughter Elizabeth Coleman.


So this has been the first of bringing to you Jewish women leaders in history.
I wanted to have women call in their brags, and learn to say great things about themselves, and inspire others, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds, and it doesn’t sound all that easy.

Plus, regarding the tools and tips: Many people are already doing that, and doing it well. I want to have episodes that are special to me, to the Strong Women’s Club, and to strong Jewish women.

So let’s give this a go! See what you think… please let me know!
The best way would be to go to iTunes and leave a real, honest, rating and review.
Look up The Strong Women’s Club on iTunes, or my name, and it will come up in your search results. Plus some interviews I’ve done on other podcasts, they will also show up there.
I appreciate it a lot!

Keep your eyes and ears open for more news on the summit… the website for the Strong Jewish Women’s Summit is coming up soon and you’ll be able to get lots of info.

Ok, so thank you for joining me in my quest for the perfect short podcast.

Today was fun, talking about dead Jewish women is going to be a blast,
Looking forward to next week!

For now, have a great day, continue to be strong!