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A Great Light Has Gone Out: Regina Gurman, International Fabric Saleswoman, Dies at 72

July 13, 2020

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Regina Gurman (right) stands next to Olga Kolpina of Exterio  in Moscow.
Regina Gurman (right) stands next to Olga Kolpina of Exterio in Moscow.

ROSLYN, N.Y.—One of the great lights of the international fabric business has gone out with the death of Regina Gurman, 72, on Saturday, July 11.

A funeral service was held here the next day at the Shelter Rock Jewish Center.

The Russian-born powerhouse dominated the international fabric scene and was loved by those in the industry.

She was witty, vibrant, clever, and very successful with the lines she represented starting with the U.S.'s Mastercraft and finishing with Italy's Mario Sirtori, whom she represented as Regina Gurman International.

Gurman left Mastercraft in December 1999, along with her sister and business partner, Ita Aingorn, after 20 years with the company. They had been responsible for export sales at Mastercraft, the most successful mill in the world for many years under the management of Andrew Major and Harry Turpan.

Gurman and her sister departed in the wake of the acquisition and merging of Mastercraft, Home and Doblin by Elkin McCallum, who has since left the industry, as have those companies.

Gurman and her sister dominated the fabric export trade for many years. (Many export buyers she worked with called themselves members of the “Regina Club.”)

She hung out at the Amigo Hotel during Decosit and was part of the Mastercraft stand at Heimtextil for 20 years. One particularly memorable year, she dressed as a clown at the Mastercraft tent at the German event.

What no one knew, however, was that Gurman was on allocation with Mastercraft. The line was so much in demand worldwide that Gurman could only get a limited amount of goods. She held these goods tightly and doled them out to her customers in Russia.  She wrote millions of dollars in orders every year.

Recently, she represented Mario Sirtori in the Russian market.

In addition to speaking her native Russian, she also spoke English and Hungarian. She is survived by two sons and her sister, Ita.

Agent Tom Muzekari Remembers Gurman

“[I] just heard Regina Gurman passed away unexpectedly. Talk about a legend. She was that. No one like her.

“Regina would be a great story about our history during the 1980s and 1990s: American Weavers. She was brilliant at how she handled the Mastercraft line.

“She was one of my career heroes.”

Elaine Taylor-Gordon of Flash Force Sourcing Agents Remembers Gurman

“I met Regina Gurman and her sister, Ita, when I started in the business in 2001. Regina took me under her wing, as a fledgling.

She was a woman of the world and a real icon as a successful entrepreneur.

The sisters took their buyers by the hand and brought the business to the mill during the shows. [This was] a time that Russia and the Ukraine were riding high by offering a virtual womb-to-tomb service. She met her buyers at the airport, handled their hotels, meals, and evening entertainment -- even sightseeing.

“They paid an all-inclusive fee for this. And, of course, she earned commissions as well. Her clients came to buy, unlike Americans, who came to look. Many of her clients spoke no English, but she made sure they always visited her suppliers, and that everyone was happy.

“She and Ita always stayed at the Miralago in Cernobbio (for Proposte), and usually arrived early as did I. Regina and Ita were strictly kosher and always brought their own food, including matzah, when the shows fell during the eight-day period of celebration, for the truly observant.

“I would arrive from Malpensa and greet them on the Miralago terrace as they enjoyed an Aperol Spritz, cottage cheese, and vegetables from New York.”

 


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