Milli Gould was a style icon, a savvy businesswoman, and a dedicated philanthropist. Milli, who began her long career in fashion working weekends when she was 12 years old, created a retail empire whose impact continues today in both Hamilton and Toronto.
Milli built her business from the ground up after the devastating loss of her first husband and 13-month-old daughter in a house fire. Only 25 at the time, Milli had a young son and another on the way. The idea of starting her own business to provide for her family was borne out of this tragic time in her life.
Two years later, in 1959, Milli met her second husband, Allen Gould, while on vacation. With his encouragement and a $5,000 loan, Milli opened her first store in downtown Hamilton.
Thanks to Milli’s eye for design and personal attention to the women who shopped in her store, the business flourished. In 1974, she began to design and manufacture her own clothing line. Her influence and reach continued to spread into the 1980s, when Milli began dressing Hollywood starts Joan Collins and Linda Evans on the television show, Dynasty.
In 2019, the Art Gallery of Hamilton celebrated Milli’s 55 years in business with a full-scale retrospective exhibition. The exhibit celebrated the women who wore the designs, Milli’s unique attention to detail, and her impact on local fashion.
Milli was a long-time supporter and friend of YWCA Hamilton. A Woman of Distinction award winner in 2008, Milli had previously supported the YWCA Hamilton’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Program with a generous $50,000 gift through the Allen and Milli Gould Foundation. It was common to see her at the program graduation ceremonies, where she listened, answered questions, and inspired.
“I believe women need to help each other,” she said at the time.
After Milli’s death in 2019 at the age of 86, YWCA Hamilton lost a friend and a long-time advocate. We are so honoured that Milli’s family has chosen to recognize her legacy in this deeply meaningful way, and that future generations of women entrepreneurs in Hamilton will continue to be inspired by her.
..and meet the women who are following in her footsteps