M&S Schmalberg

“We are known for making the best custom fabric flowers.”

Adam BrandCOO

“As a kid, my dad was known as the flower man.”

There are not many places like M&S Schmalberg, a fourth generation, family-owned company founded 104 years ago by brothers Morris and Sam Schmalberg. Their nephew, Harold Brand, joined the business at the age of 17 after escaping from Europe and surviving the Holocaust. He eventually inherited the NYC Garment District business and handed it off to his daughter and son, Debra and Warren Brand. In 2008, Warren’s son Adam joined the team and currently leads operations.

As a child, Adam would regularly be at the factory to witness the excitement. To this day, every time he steps into the dye room, he remembers his aunt and father hard at work. The Garment District has always played a significant role in his life. Adam went to school to study Psychology, but upon graduation was not sure of what to do next. He started helping out in the factory and gradually became an important member of the team, as he brought a tech-savviness that allowed him to grow M&S Schmalberg’s online presence, brand identity, and e-commerce. He slowly took on more responsibilities and eventually ownership of the company. Today, M&S Schmalberg is the oldest and last factory of its kind in NYC. Adam leads the business and hopes to keep it operational for at least  20 additional years, so that his daughter has the option to lead it one day.

Adam Brand MS Schmalberg
custom fabric flowers MS Schmalberg

“We’re the only ones left of our kind.”

M&S Schmalberg strongly identifies with the word “survivor.” Ever since Harold Brand escaped the Holocaust, the business has adopted a mentality of surviving hard times, saving for rainy days, and weathering storms. This experience has shaped the way M&S Schmalberg successfully runs its business. Adam has learned from his father’s hands-on and detail-oriented approach and leads the business with those principles in mind.

M&S Schamberg’s mission is to continue making beautiful garment flowers in the Garment District. The business has refused to move its production out of the area, proudly staying true to its identity and wearing “Made In NYC” as its badge of honor.

Today, M&S Schmalberg remains known for making the best custom fabric flowers for couture fashion designers, milliners and costume designers. Adam and his team create high-quality handmade products with quick turnaround and impeccable customer service, which has resulted in a long list of well-known clients including Vera Wang, Marchesa, Oscar De La Renta, the New York City Ballet, the Radio City Rockettes, the Crazy Rich Asians movie, Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker, and many more.

“On February 18, 2016, we turned 100 years old.”

February 18, 2016 was extremely important to M&S Schmalberg as the family business celebrated both its 100-year anniversary and Harold Brand’s birthday. Throughout the past century, the company has experienced many successes. Adam Brand believes that one of his biggest accomplishments has been bringing the business into this digital century. The website he has created provides visitors with a comprehensive virtual view into the factory. He has also spent a lot of time growing the brand’s visibility and online selling channels. Adam would love for the business to reach a point where it can sustain itself with individual orders and occasional production orders.

When COVID-19 hit, M&S Schmalberg closed from March through June, and business has been rocky since then. Yet Adam remains optimistic and strongly believes that theaters, runways, Madison Square Garden, weddings, derbies, etc. will once again become normal activities in the near future, and that beautiful fabric flowers will be needed again at that point.

Flower Fashion Garment MS Schmalberg
M&S Schmalberg 1940s

“We’re hopeful to keep passing the business onto next generations.”

Adam does not know what the future holds, but he keeps pushing and striving for success. It’s his time to lead and he wants to grow the business for the generations to come.

While he doesn’t think the Garment District will ever be what it was in the 1940s – full of life, chaos and excitement – he does feel like there will be a resurgence linked to efforts to bring manufacturing back to the United States. To the left, see if you can spot M&S Schmalberg’s 1940s storefront. Adam didn’t get to see this level of liveliness, but still got to witness the strong activity of the 1980s when every building in the Garment District was filled with hundreds of factories – there was “nothing quite like it”. He hopes his daughter can one day experience the bustling Garment District that he was lucky to have known.

Q&A with Adam Brand

What keeps you motivated?

During COVID lockdown, I went crazy being at home and needed to keep busy doing some sort of work. Now, I find so much excitement in being productive. I need to work hard and feel like I’m working towards accomplishing something. When work is slow, it’s depressing. I need to keep making things happen. I like when it’s all a little overwhelming.

Who most influenced you?

My dad. I have a tremendous respect for his work ethic. He’s built a good life through his business despite some ups and downs.

What’s your advice to someone starting out in this business?

Work, work, work – If you’re willing to work 70 hours+/week to build your business, do it. You should have a strong work ethic and things will work out. I wasn’t always so serious, but as I matured, I learned the value of hard work!

Fun fact about you?

I have a dog named Noodles.