Reza Masoudi recently took the time to tell me how he and his wife came to open their couture shop Bahar & Reza in Oakwood (2308 Far Hills Avenue).
“My wife and I first met when we were college students in Iran. Like many young Iranians – especially those interested in fashion – we dreamed of building a life outside of Iran. I left first, and studied at Wright State. Then Bahar joined me in Dayton and we were married eight years ago.
“Before the revolution Empress Farah, wife of the late Shah of Iran, was known for the fashions she wore. She had gowns made for her that were modern in design but used fabric decorated with ancient Persian motifs. We decided to try something similar.
“Our first venture was on Ebay, selling a few simple items like ties and scarves using fabric with Persian designs. We were amazed at how many we sold. So we tried a few more items and they also sold well. Next we put up a website and started taking part in some of the larger U.S. fashion shows. The business continued to grow. Our fashions have been worn on the red carpet in L.A. and Empress Farah, who now lives in exile in Washington D.C. and in Paris, is one of our customers.
“People in the fashion industry advised us that our next step should be a shop in L.A. but we drug our feet. The cost to rent space in L.A. was very high, and we had both grown to like living in Dayton. Then 10 months ago I saw a For Rent sign in the window of this store. I was the first person to call the landlord and I signed the lease immediately. Results have been good so far, and we hope to be able to continue to grow our business while staying here in Dayton.”