NEW YORK — Eugene Gershburg, the co-founder and president of handbag and leather goods firm Monsac International, died Thursday here of lung cancer. He was 54.
Along with his wife, Rachel, who was also his business partner, Gershburg worked in the leather goods industry since the couple emigrated from Russia to the U.S. 22 years ago. Many of those years were spent at handbag firm Sharif Designs, where the duo created that company’s Americana Collection.
In an interview with WWD in January 2001, the couple said creating their own brand was a lifelong dream, which was realized when they founded Monsac in 1997. Eugene focused on production and distribution, while Rachel concentrated on design. She will remain in that role. Monsac, which was purchased by Echo Design Group in 2000, was known for its natural vachetta leather handbags and small leather goods. Under Echo’s ownership, the firm expanded into new categories such as scarves and travel items. Sales for Monsac are about $17 million.
“Eugene was a creative person with a strong sense of vision,” said Steven Roberts, co-president of Echo. “He was very passionate about what he believed in.”
The Gershburgs shared a passion for music; both had taught music over the years. Gershburg also supported NYU Medical Center’s Stephen D. Hassenfeld Center, a center for children with blood disorders. Besides his wife, Gershburg is survived by two children, Daniel and Tanya.

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