39 Elliott Street
Frank and Alice Crosby were early exponents of vertical retailing: designing, manufacturing and selling their products in their own drapery stores.
They began their business in Whangarei in 1919, and by the end of the 1930s, they had moved to Auckland opening a factory on High Street. Their designs, under the name Reslau Frocks, were sold across New Zealand, including at Alice’s own salon ‘Jacqueline Gowns’ which was located at 94 Queen Street.
By 1940 they had moved to a bigger factory at 39 Elliott Street and employed about 100 staff as machinists and cutters. The Crosby daughters also worked there: Zelda in the office, Jean as one of the cutters, and Betty as a house model, showing garments off to buyers.
On the ground floor was the office and Frank’s cutting and design area. The machinists occupied the first floor while another designer, two cutters and the lunchroom were on the second floor. Zelda Crosby recalls: “The basement was like magic to me, stacked full of wonderful materials, ones you never see today. Reslau was a very busy place with the summer and winter range being designed, samples made for travellers [the two travelling salesmen employed by Reslau] and frocks being packed and sent.”
Frustration at war time restrictions and government regulation around the amount of material that could be used for each garment led to the Crosbys’ decision to sell both Reslau Frocks and Jacqueline Gowns in the mid 1940s.