CHICAGO - Stylemaster Inc., a 5-year-old Chicago housewares molder that has ridden a financial roller coaster the past two years, was back at the International Housewares Show. Stylemaster outsources its molding, mainly to Paramount Plastics Inc. of Lockport, Ill., and to Matrix IV Inc. of Woodstock, Ill., according to Stylemaster President Martha Williams.
Williams, a Chicago native who in 20 years rose through the ranks of local molding shops, starting as a parts packer, founded Stylemaster in Niles, Ill., in 1991. The firm had a molding operation; however, debts and an internal dispute over the company led Stylemaster into bankruptcy liquidation in 1994. Williams, backed by new investors, bought the company at an auction in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago.
At the 1996 Housewares Show, held Jan. 14-17, Stylemaster devoted most of its booth to injection molded storage boxes. Williams said she pioneered sets of the polypropylene boxes organized along seasonal themes, such as Christmas.
The Christmas line sold well this past holiday season, and even after Christmas, as bargain-hunters used them to hold discounted wrapping paper, bows and ornaments, Williams said.
``The boxes sell themselves after Christmas,'' Williams said.
Williams, who designs many of the products, said Stylemaster will continue to make heavy-duty products, with thicker part walls than some other competitors.
``I'm not going to sacrifice quality to be the low-end guy,'' she said.