Rizik Brothers opened towards the end of the Teddy Roosevelt administration (1901-1909). With the assassination of President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President in the Nation’s history. In 1908, Teddy Roosevelt would be in his final year as president – a period when the United States was emerging as the world’s leading industrial nation. Henry Ford’s introduction of the Model T in 1908 revolutionized American society by creating an automobile affordable for the masses.
On the social front, immigration into the United States was significant (the “wave” that brought the Rizik Brothers to the States), a renewal in evangelical Protestantism was influential (a result of the Third Great Awakening), and the women’s suffrage movement was in progress. It was a prosperous time as the United States fed off the energy of Roosevelt and the growth that came with industrialization.
From the beginning, Rizik Brothers catered to the well-to-do women with social clout and active busy social calendars – and provided clothes that enhanced the busy lifestyles representative of this period. The brothers became known for their attention to detail and their customer service. A woman could walk into the boutique, buy an evening gown for a formal dinner later that same day, and have it altered in time to make the cocktail hour.
In an article published in 1988 entitled “The Rite of Rizik’s”, written by Martha Sherrill Dailey, Daily describes the store as being “ornate with marble and display cases of cherry wood”. Ayoub Michel and Joseph Rizik (who co-managed the store) dressed formally, wearing cutaways to work (a coat or jacket with the front cutaway below the waist so as to curve back to the tails). Dailey writes “It became a store where Cabinet wives and first ladies shopped, where there was a great rush — and still is — at inauguration time when Rizik’s kept seamstresses working late and on weekends to get out scores of ball gowns.” Mike Rizik, son of Ayoub Michel, recalls “The chauffeurs waited outside while their ladies went inside to try on a few things for a party.”