Friday, April 24, 2015

Madame Paulette and the Armenian Genocide

Today, April 24th, tragically marks the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide: The systematic extermination of millions of Armenians in their own homeland by the Ottoman Empire (which is currently Turkey).

The history and foundation of Madame Paulette and the Great Uncle of the current Madame Paulette President, John Mahdessian, established in the1950s is inexplicably intertwined with this event.

John Mahdessian’s ancestors grew up in a part of Armenia which is currently now mainland Turkey. They were robbed of possessions and a heritage that John has rekindled in the current ethos of Madame Paulette. It is of no surprise that his great-great grandfather was the first man in town to purchase and own a sewing machine. It is safe to say that dry cleaning/alterations was ingrained in the blood of the family from the very beginning!

John’s ancestors became victims of the genocide atrocity that took place in 1915. John’s grandfather Gaidzag Vetzigian (1 of 2 out of 6 siblings who survived the Genocide) endured what no human being, especially a seven-year-old child, should ever endure. The family was torn apart: his mother and sisters were taken and turned into slaves, most of his siblings died as a result of this genocide; forced to march endless miles to concentration camps. During this march of death, the remaining siblings passed away due to various reasons ranging from starvation to Typhoid Disease. Gaidzag even witnessed the murder of his own father and brother right before his young, innocent eyes.

Being completely separated from any family he had left, Gaidzag was forced to live in a Turkish orphanage where they tried to convert him to the Muslim faith, forcing him daily to read the Quran. During this time, unbeknownst to him, his relentless and courageous mother located him at the Turkish orphanage after two years of searching. She carefully devised and planned for his escape to America in 1920. With her influence, he was adopted by an Aunt and smuggled to America. It would be two years later before the young Gaidzag would eventually reunite with his mother.  

This moving story of overcoming the worst odds ever stacked against an individual or group of people exemplifies the experiences of the survivors and children of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide.  

We at Madame Paulette are recognized as the world leaders in the field of cleaning and restoration, and are proud Armenian descendants. The Armenian heritage is deeply within us and is the root of the courage that is embodied in our family business.

One of many of our family's commitments that we hold dear to our heart goes hand-in-hand with our company's heritage rooted in the Armenian plight. We have provided restoration work at the St. Vartan Cathedral in New York City; which is the first Cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church to be built in the USA as well being the archdiocese for all Armenian churches in the United States. We also provide the cleaning of vestments for the deacon and clergy which is just one of the many ways Madame Paulette and the Mahdessian family has supported their church and their fellow Armenians

Gaidziag (George) Vetzigian, who passed away 13 years ago was a beloved member of the St. Vartan Cathedral. For over 50 years, Gaidziag dedicated his time to his church by becoming a Knight of Vartan; and his children and childrens' children followed in his very footsteps. John and Noubar Madessian are both Knights of Vartan, as Ann and Laura Mahdessian have been long time members of the Daughters of Vartan and are all very happy to serve their church and the Armenian community.

Madame Paulette is #ArmenianStrong

Top: Gaidzag Vetzigian with his two daughters (left) Ann Mahdessian, and (right) Adrian Movsesian
Bottom: Gaidzag Vetzigian with his grandchildren Laura, Greg, and John Mahdessian


  1. On my three visits to Armenia I met wonderful strong people
    who inspired me with their joy of living, their passion for all good things and their generosity.
    I also read about the past.I love your courage,lack of resentment and reminder that it is the here and now that matters while we learn from the past we can spread peace and understanding for the future.



    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

  2. We have much in common. ... Armenian genocide & fine dry cleaning family.

    Patricia Field
    Sent from my iPhone

  3. In Armenia 04/24/2015

  4. The genocide is all too real although there are ignorant or evil people who deny it. It was a human disaster second only to the holocaust. I am in full sympathy with all my Armenian friends, and in deep sorrow with them as well.

    Lorna Gladstone
    Sent from my iPad

  5. Bravo John!!!

    Yelena Ambartsumian
    Sent from my iPhone

  6. I'm with you! And the fact that Turkey refuses to call it genocide and instead celebrates Gallipoli (???) says a lot about their moral character. I've only ever used your service for one (fairly major) job, but thank you.

    Much love and respect from Washington, DC!
    Erica Wissolik

  7. Hi John,

    Hope you are well!

    This is Jo Standish, you attended Lifeline NY has a guest of mine a couple of years ago.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful heritage and accomplishments!
    A very courageous story and a tribute to you, your family and Grandfather!.

    Best regards

  8. Watch out John - I am forwarding this brilliant story to BIG DOGS in the Armenian community - bravo, and thank you for this

    - big kiss, Jessica Packer, the Empress