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Lou Lou Button

Lou Lou Button

69 West 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
212 398 5498
Hours:
M-F 10am-6pm
Established: 1988

I promised Roz and his good friend, Hedi, that I would keep this short, but I did not promise that I wouldn’t make it sweet. Finding these two charming men absorbed in conversation one afternoon was endearing as they eagerly invited me to join in. It did not take me long to get them to share Roz’s story with me, and when he hesitated for a moment, Hedi would complete the thought. In a nutshell, Roz arrived in New York in 1978 via Iran. He graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic with a degree in mechanical engineering. While working for a company on Fifth Avenue, he wandered into a shop during his lunch break and picked up an interesting-looking black button. When inquiring about ordering this, the shop keeper told him that it would take two months to receive the button from overseas. Roz immediately told himself, “I am going to make this.” He went on to say, “It was at this moment I discovered myself and knew that I needed to meet this challenge.” As the story goes, it was this one black button that took him on his journey over the next several decades.

The name “Lou Lou” comes from the Persian poet Rumi.  According to Roz, Rumi teaches readers how to look in the mirror and love what you see there.  Lou Lou is the force that gets in the way of that.  Roz explained that the force is not specifically considered evil: it is just an obstacle to be overcome.  Roz clearly has great respect for the thirteenth century poet.  He lovingly spoke about how Rumi could take a small collection of words and turn them into something extraordinary.  “He makes something out of nothing,” Roz declared.  I am convinced that that phrase could also be applied to Roz’s mastery of his own craft.

Roz began with a manufacturing studio on 37th Street where he designed and created buttons that he sold to the trade. In 1994, he decided a better way to showcase his work was by having a retail shop. At Lou Lou, “if you need a button by tomorrow, I will have it for you.” The shop is tiny but filled from floor to ceiling with beautifully crafted buttons of every size and for any occasion. For the past twenty years, Roz has been designing and making unique buttons for top designers, the Metropolitan Opera, Radio City, ballet companies, and almost every Broadway production. Simply browsing through the inventory of buttons makes a visit well worth one’s while, however, if Roz (and Hedi) also happen to be there, finding the time to chat with them allows for the perfect experience.