More than 250 years ago, in 1746 art and business joined hands when the 23 year old artist, Jean-Henri Dollfus started a joint venture with two equally young entrepreneurs Jean-Jacques Schmaizer and Samuel Koechlin. Capitalizing on the fashion trend at the time of painted fabrics and Jean-Henri's talent, they were the very first to manufacture hand painted Indian prints in Europe. Long before globalization became the buzzword that it is today, these men had an international vision for their company, exporting their fabrics to all parts of the world.
Near the end of the 18th century Jean-Henri Dollfus's nephew, Daniel Dollfus took over the reins of the business. In the spring of 1800, he married Anne-Marie Mieg and joined his wife's name onto his own, as was often the custom in those days. That same year he gave the company the new trade name of Dollfus-Mieg & Compagnie, or D.M.C.
It was while completing his studies in Leeds, England that Dollfus junior discovered the invention of the chemist John Mercer - "mercerising" - the process of passing the cotton thread through caustic soda thereby modifying the cotton and giving its strength, longevity and silky appearance. It was also in the 19th century that DMC established strong links with the famous embroiderer, Therese de Dillmont. The friendship between this talented woman and Jean Dollfus-Mieg led her to move to Dornach, a town close to Mulhouse, where she founded her own embroidery school in close cooperation with DMC.
Therese's significant contribution to the needlecraft world was her Encyclopedia of Ladies' Handicrafts featuring exclusively DMC threads and textiles, was published in 1886 and translated and distributed to seventeen countries.
1961 the company merged with Thiriez and Cartier Bresson. The new company kept the trade name of DMC, with Thiriez and Cartier Bresson contributing the now famous horse's head.
After the Franco-Prussian war, DMC continued to expand and acquired twelve block printing machines. They produced calicos and block printed wool fabrics, and also launched new sewing, crochet and embroidery threads. DMC was again awarded the Hor Concours at the Exhibition of 1879 at Paris. The following year, the Belfort works were created. These exclusively produced cotton thread and braids. They also began to produce gold and silver thread which was extremely sought after for ecclesiastical work.
They also set up an onsite printing press to handle all printing, from paper to packaging. As the company thrived, Jean Doullfus also sought to improve his employees living conditions. Due to the lack of housing near the factory to meet the needs of an increasing workforce, In 1850 he initiated the settlements called “Cities Ouvrieres” at Mulhouse. Napoleon III was so impressed with the endeavor, he ordered a subsidy of 300,000 francs to be paid to the community. Each house had a small garden and was sold to the worker at cost, giving them 14 to 16 years to pay off the property. By June 1885, 775 of the 1060 houses had been fully paid by their residents.
Jean Doulfus died in 1887, leaving DMC a worldwide recognized and respected company.
Today the DMC Group remains an international organization manufacturing consumer threads, industrial thread and textile related products. The company's commitment to quality and creativity remains as strong now as it was in the 18th century. The Dollfus family's early motto remains alive today: