Atlanta Memories Since 1970
To the right is Frank Garson II, founder of the Lovable Company, and to the left is his son Dan Garson, who became company chairman after serving in World War II.
Photo Credit: AJC.com
A Colorblind Approach to the Business World!
By Shiyra Sadoff
I was driving down LaVista Rd. past the Lindbergh MARTA Station today. I noticed Garson Drive, which was named after the owner of a company located at Piedmont and Lindbergh in 1970 when I first arrived in Atlanta. Upon researching the Garson family on Google, I found that Dan and his father Frank, founder of the company in 1926, were pioneers in integration long before the Civil Rights Movement was in full bloom. I find their story worth telling.
In 1926, Frank and Gussie Garson founded the Lovable Co., a maker of lingerie, mainly bras. Their son Dan Garson became company chairman after his service in World War II and Dan’s son, Frank II, joined the business later. In the almost 9 decades that this company was in business, it employed over 3,000 workers across the globe.
Right from the start, the Garsons believed in and maintained an integrated work force, which was unheard of during that time. Most, if not all, businesses were segregated and wouldn’t dare venture into integration before the Civil Rights Movement occurred. According to Dan’s wife Charlotte Rosen Garson, “Dan and his father felt that unless you raised the whole profile of the black community, this would never be a successful city or country. They believed that in order to be successful, everyone had to work together and they were going to give the opportunity to do so. They embraced racial differences and found business partnerships and friendships along the way.”
Dan and his wife Charlotte had the privilege of meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. for dinner. They had the opportunity to talk over a meal together and joined hands to sing “We Shall Overcome.” They had a mutual dream of equality and Dan made sure it would be a priority in the business world, even if nobody else was doing it.
Dan didn’t choose to advertise his beliefs on integration, but he is still admired for being one of the first business owners to stand up for equality. He made strides toward integration before anyone else was doing it and has become a part of Atlanta history. His support for the black community and for integrated businesses was probably looked down upon, but he didn’t let that stop him. He was an advocate for education, equality and opportunity for all Americans, which showed itself in his huge support of the United Negro College Fund.
Despite the Garson’s unpopular, colorblind approach to business, the company was extremely successful. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s the company was one of the largest privately held bra-makers and was the sixth- largest overall. During its best years of success, Lovable Co. had annual sales of about$70 million. There products were sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney Co., Sears, K-Mart and more.
It’s local heroes like Dan Garson who really set the tone for integration and equality in businesses of all kinds. Dan died in October 2009, and left behind an inspiring legacy. He didn’t have to be in the spotlight to make a decision to stand up for what was right! Now every time I pass by Garson drive, I will be reminded of his impactful contributions to integration and the business world.
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