I get the feeling that some office seekers envision more prestige and accolades should they win the office they seek. I’m not sure that is a valid reason for running. I like better a 1940 office seeker who ran for governor of Utah knowing she would not be successful, but using the campaign to publicize the needs of her workers.
Times were gloomy in 1928. Businesses were failing, and not hiring. "This depression has killed our trade. We will not buy because we cannot sell," said business owners. Stepping into this world of uncertainty, an Ogden woman set out to provide income for her family and jobs for women, especially widows. Confident of her abilities–hadn’t she made rugs, quilts, aprons, etc. for her Mormon Relief Society? Why then couldn’t she learn the art of buying fabric and making aprons for sale?
With five dollars and one sewing machine, she launched her business, Kathleen Quinn Garment Company, named after Ada Quinn's daughter. Little by little the company grew. Orders came in for 50 dozen aprons, so she purchased another sewing machine. The kitchen became too small to process so many garments so she moved to a four room shack in her back yard.
She observed that the print on local fabrics were uninspiring so she traveled East to buy bright colored material, but wholesalers refused to deal with such a small company. So she went to jobbers and purchased large quantities of fabric, and paid her bills promptly. She built a reputation so wholesalers were glad to sell to her.
The next thing she tackled was producing her own apron patterns. Having taken a design class in college, she used this knowledge to fashion her own designs and had them patented. Comparing her first patent in 1928 with one in 1945, the description was skimpy, but the later pattern included everything she could think of to make it individualized. Then she designed a wrap around apron/dress which became very popular. I remember my mother wearing such a dress when nursing one of my siblings. With her fame growing, J.C. Penney Company asked to sell her aprons exclusively in their stores. Mr. Penney became a good friend who visited her occasionally and she stopped in to his office when she was in New York, where she had a show room.
By this time the business outgrew the shack. She built a brick factory next to her home at 335 28th St. with good lighting and ventilation for her workers. In 1940 she moved all the sewing machines to a second factory on the upper floor of a building on 23rd Street and Washington Boulevard. At this time she employed 185 people. Skilled workers earned $4 a day, and no employee took home less than $2.40.
Quinn hired union workers and paid union salaries during the depression and spent money to train these workers. She knew they needed good wages for their families.
The factory ran all night and day to keep up with orders, and Quinn began to tell retailers they would have to wait their turns for their shipments.
Also in 1940 she decided to run for governor of Utah on the Independent ticket in order to get her thoughts on government intervention in the garment industry before the public. Her literature condemned the strictures that persons could not be apprenticed in the industry without the consent of the federal government, and the government was slow to issue those certificates.
According to a daughter-in-law she realized she had little chance of winning so she did not campaign statewide but ordered flyers to distribute to voters, and bought time on local radio stations to air her beliefs. She considered such efforts sufficient to publicize her strong views about government control of the "needle industry." As she suspected she received only 0.2 percent of the votes, but she called her efforts a success because she was able to express her concerns for her workers to the Utah public.
A few months before her death in the summer of 1945, Ada received a call to serve on the clothing manufacture subcommittee of the General Welfare Department of her church charged with helping members become self-sufficient in producing their own clothing. She valued the idea of individuals helping themselves, and must have enjoyed seeing the fruits of the committee’s labors in sewing their own clothing and also garments for those in need.
Upon her death in August 1945, the Ogden Standard-Examiner touted her amazing success as a business owner, her good works, and her progressive view of providing women with jobs to fill their needs.