Voila! C’est Fini! was originally conceived by Susan Karten as a
subsidiary of one of her husband’s businesses, a factory in Haiti which
employed a thousand workers doing all types of needle work. It is a
romantic and interesting story.
Susan graduated from Pratt Institute in New York with a degree in
Fine Arts. She began her career teaching art in New York City and
found she would rather be producing art than teaching it. So, she
answered an ad in the “New York Times” for an artist and began her
career in needlepoint designing for none other than Erica Wilson.
This was in the 70s, truly the hay days of the needlepoint industry.
Every department store had a needlepoint department. Erica Wilson
had a shop in New York City (Erica Wilson Needleworks), published a
syndicated newspaper column, Needleplay, and was the host of two
public television series. What an introduction to needlepoint!
Susan next worked for Mazaltov’s, another fine needlepoint boutique
on Madison Avenue. She began doing custom designs and
subsequently helped develop their needlework kit business. Amazingly,
these needlework kits and canvases are the collectables of today.
Her next position was with Paragon Needlecraft in New York City, a
large needlework kit manufacturing company. As the Head Designer,
she had the responsibility of developing the needlepoint and rug lines
and having had the samples and models produced.
Susan located a perfect resource, a factory in Haiti employing a
thousand workers that did all types of hand needle work. She had the
opportunity to travel to Haiti to oversee the projects. The factory was
owned by Morton K. Karten, an American business man living in
Haiti. This was the beginning of a storybook romance and ultimately
the founding of Voila! Susan and Morton were eventually married
and lived in Haiti together for more than ten years. These were
exciting days in Haiti when it was an international playground until . . .
Upon their return to the United States, Susan and Morton started a
company with the idea of completing the stitching of canvases for
people who had begun them and run out of steam. Thereby the name
Voila! C’est Fini! – Here! It’s Finished!
Little did they know they had moved 8 miles away from the missing
link, Susan’s long lost cousin. They were reunited after a long time,
having been very close in their early years, at the wedding of a family
member. Cousin Abby, an early retired IBMer, soon joined the
Voila! team bringing the computer and mass marketing skills
necessary to move Voila! C’est Fini! Stitching Service to the national
scene. They were ready for their first TNNA Show.
The first booth Voila! C’est Fini! took at a TNNA Show was simply to
introduce the stitching service. But being a designer, and loving
fashion, especially accessories – handbag, belts and shoes, Susan just
couldn’t help it. She had to design – and have the designs stitched and
finished into things she could wear. When the retailers saw the
stitched and finished models at the Voila! booth , they wanted to buy
the canvases, so Voila! had to paint as well. And so now, Voila! Is a
full service, one of a kind company.
Voila! has an extensive line of hand painted canvases, and does unique
belt, shoe and handbag finishing, as well as the needlepoint stitching
service. Voila! will do your stitching for you. They will finish your
stitching into beautiful accessories you can wear with pride. And you
can purchase their hand painted canvases and have the satisfaction of
stitching them yourselves.
Morton K. Karten passed away two years ago. Susan and Abby carry
on the business with the standards he set for it and them. The stitching
service was very important to him. The stitching work provides a
living for the sweet and talented Haitian workers who were employed
by him for more than 30 years. It is a necessity that they continue it
in his honor. Morton also demanded the best customer service and
customer communication possible. You can be assured of total
satisfaction with the services and products Voila! provides.
Susan’s interest in fashion brings excitement to the needlepoint
industry. Voila! strives to make needlepoint wearable and fashionable
and interesting to the younger generation. You can depend on it!