Great Neck resident Parry Yousefzadeh came to the United States in 1959 at the age of 9. She and her family, which included her parents and four young siblings, left Iran to find economic opportunity and freedoms in the U.S. and escape the increasing religious discrimination in the Islamic Republic. They joined thousands of other Iranian Jewish immigrants who worked hard and laid the foundation for success for future generations in their close-knit traditional community.
At age 18, while living in Forest Hills, Yousefzadeh met and married her husband, Parviz, who had immigrated from the same village in Iran approximately 10 years earlier. Nine months after the honeymoon, the couple welcomed twin daughters, Jackie and Janet, into the world. Several years later, they completed their family with a third daughter, Edna. In 1977, the growing family moved from Bayside to Old Westbury, and, finally, in 1988 to Great Neck.
Like most women of her generation and cultural background, Yousefzadeh, also known as Patty, was an exemplary homemaker and accomplished cook of Persian cuisine, who hosted huge family gatherings and holiday celebrations.
But, her real passion was creating beautiful fashion designs. As a young child, she learned the skill of sewing and pattern making from her mother, Nina, who was a gifted seamstress. As a brand-new immigrant, Nina used these talents to alter clothing, as she supported her five small children while her husband, Dr. Nourollah Chadi, was studying for his medical boards in New York in the early 1960s.
When her three daughters were little girls, Yousefzadeh hand sewed beautiful custom-
made dresses for them. She created unique appliqués for their clothing, as well as hair bows and handbags.
By the time the girls were school age, with the support of her husband who was a successful retail business owner, Yousefzadeh was ready to enter the working world. She first began as a designer at a small boutique in Roslyn. Within a year, she opened her own store in Greenvale opposite the Wheatley Plaza shopping center. She called the store Javon Juniors. Javon means young in Farsi.
From that moment, Yousefzadeh found her niche. Even without prior business experience, she demonstrated a knack for entrepreneurship and, most of all, pleasing the customer.
Javon became well-known throughout the tristate area, as one of the very few couturiers that made and sold handmade designs, including bat mitzvah dresses, prom gowns and flower girl dresses. As word of mouth spread, she designed wedding, mother-of-the-bride and pageant dresses.
The shop eventually grew to have more than a dozen employees in three locations, including Westchester and the Great Neck location on Bond Street called Party Girl.
Yousefzadeh’s daughter Janet inherited her creative talent in sewing and pattern making and was instrumental in helping grow the business. Her youngest daughter, Edna, is also skilled at sewing, while Jackie’s abilities are limited to buttons and hems.
As teenagers, Yousefzadeh’s three daughters spent countless hours in the boutique, helping customers try on samples of custom-made evening wear and glittery sandals, assisting them with choosing fabrics for custom dresses and pinning muslin linings at fittings.
During their college years, Jackie and Janet assumed responsibility as buyers in the fabric district in Manhattan. With clearly written instructions from their mom, they negotiated the lowest cost per yard for French embroidered lace, bolts of silk and chiffon, and full skins of lamb suede and leather.
When her daughters married and each had children of their own, Yousefzadeh was always there to provide support and guidance. She enjoyed caring for her grandchildren, even if it meant bringing them to work. She watched her oldest grandchild for hours each week when he was a toddler, while Jackie was in graduate school and didn’t have reliable child care.
Javon’s customers included many celebrities, such as professional models, Raven Simone, Susan Lucci and Victoria Gotti. But, Yousefzadeh’s favorite customers were “everyday” girls and women who wanted to look their absolute best at special events.
Customers traveled by car from Connecticut and flew in from Florida. Yousefzadeh had repeat customers who came back to her again and again, insisting that no designer matched her talents. They would bring pictures from Vogue magazine and sketches of their “dream dress.”
Yousefzadeh could magically transform a sketch into a dress. She also had a unique gift for working with young women, especially preteen and teenage girls. She spoke their language, understood their insecurities and brought out their unique beauty and confidence. She expertly mediated conflicts between mothers and daughters. By a blend of patience, intuition and a little magic, Yousefzadeh would offer suggestions to design the perfect party dress. Her ever-present smile and warmth brought out the best in every customer.
As retail businesses met with challenges in the mid 2000s, Yousefzadeh decided to close the boutiques in order to spend more time with her aging mother and 12 grandchildren, who now range in age from 6 to 27.
By the time the stores closed, Yousefzadeh’s three daughters had moved on to their own careers. Jackie and Janet became lawyers, and Edna became a physician. Each daughter acknowledges that Yousefzadeh was an incomparable role model. She was not only a devoted mother and wife, but also a woman who followed her career passions despite many challenges and obstacles.
As a mother, Yousefzadeh emphasized traditional Iranian Jewish culture and values to her children. But, she also offered unequivocal support when they wanted to pursue careers, telling them: “Bite off more than you can chew, and start chewing.”
She made it look easy, but it wasn’t. She showed her daughters that the rewards were worth the many sacrifices.
After a few short years of retirement, including extended vacations and endless leisure time at home and with her family, Yousefzadeh decided that it was time to go back to work. She was hired to manage the Entoto Couture boutique in Great Neck.
The shop subsequently expanded and moved to Greenvale, right across from the Wheatley Plaza shopping center, only steps from where the original Javon Juniors was located in 1982.
Yousefzadeh has never been happier. Once again, through word of mouth, new and old customers have found her, and they arrive each day looking for one-of-a-kind custom designs, high-end evening wear and accessories.
When she is not working, Yousefzadeh enjoys spending time with her husband and family at weekly dinners, which she cooks herself to rave reviews. Recently, she has been trying to teach sewing and design to her grandchildren. She is hoping that at least one or two of them will carry on the tradition.
Like her mother, Great Neck resident Jacqueline Harounian, Esq., also bites off way more than she can chew. She is a frequent contributor to the Great Neck Record, a partner at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates and volunteers for numerous charities.