SBDC Hall of Fame

Ursula of Switzerland

Ursula Garreau-Rickenbacher

Ursula Garreau-Rickenbacher
Ursula of Switzerland
Albany SBDC

When Ursula was a young girl in Einsiedein, Switzerland, she dreamed of moving to the United States and becoming a dressmaker business.  When she arrived in America, she had seventy-four cents in her pocket and crocheted hats on a park bench for fashion retailers on Fifth Avenue. She achieved her dream when she established her dressmaking business in Upstate New York. Thirty-five years after founding her company, Ursula is best known for her “mother of the bride” dresses.  She also makes dresses for special and social occasions.  Ursula releases a new line of apparel five  times a year - each line including 40 to 60 styles – for women of all ages.  Ursula’s dresses can be found in better specialty stores and bridal shops around the world.  She proudly utilizes American manufacturers to produce the dresses.

When a 1996 flood swamped Ursula’s manufacturing plant in Waterford, and ruined more than a million dollars of inventory, she turned to the SBDC for assistance. Ursula secured an SBA disaster loan, restored the inventory, and resumed operations. She was subsequently presented with an SBA Phoenix Award, in recognition of her successful business recovery.

Ursula credits her long-lasting success to her nephew and Controller, Meinrad Rickenbacher, and Vice President of Merchandising, Beth Easley.  Both have been part of Ursula’s management team for more than fifteen years.