Echo Design Group Inc. chairwoman Dorothy “Dot” Roberts died on June 11 at the age of 91. The cause of death was cancer.
As Echo’s leader, Roberts steered the company to sign on a fleet of blue-chip partnerships. The company has produced scarves for Ralph Lauren, Coach, Talbots, J.Jill, Brooks Brothers, MoMa and the Smithsonian. It also creates private label goods that are sold in major department stores worldwide. Echo scarves also operates as a stand-alone brand that is sold through major retail partners. In addition to scarves, the company produces puffy nylon jackets, rainwear, hats, wraps and leather gloves and an extensive home line.
The brand is known for its vibrant and eclectic prints.
A lifelong New Yorker, Roberts would have marked her 70th anniversary with the company in early July. As Roberts told WWD in a 2013 interview marking Echo’s 90th anniversary, the company was founded by her parents on their wedding day and was a constant focus of daily life – including dinnertime conversation.
“We talked about Echo at every meal,” she said at the time. “They used to take me to the office and I started traveling with them. When I was seven, they took me to Europe with them. We went to London, Paris and Lake Como in Italy. I knew all the buyers. My mother and father’s first three accounts were Saks Fifth Avenue, I. Magnin and Marshall Field’s, three of the best stores.”
Roberts was not allowed to play her hand at nepotism. She worked her way up in the company following college graduation, starting out as an office assistant and then moving on to showroom manager.
When Roberts’ father died, her first husband, Paul Roberts, became head of the Echo Design Group. Following his death in 1978, Roberts took the reins herself.
“I’m proud of the four generations,” she told WWD. “First, second, third and fourth…We have been an important and relevant resource to the retail community all these years…I am also not just proud of the family, I am very proud of all the Echoans, as we call them.”
Roberts is survived by her daughter, Lynn, and son Steven, both of whom are involved in the company; two stepchildren, Lizabeth and Peggy, as well as nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Roberts outlived both her husbands – Paul Roberts, who died in 1978, and Paul Cohen, who passed away in 2012.
A memorial service will be held Sunday for close family members only due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Donations can be made to the Parsons School of Design or American Heart Association in honor of Dorothy Roberts.