The Original “Bold Kid”
22 March 2018 by Julia Arazi
My mother taught me I could be whatever I wanted to be.
When I was 3, my parents took a giant leap. They had both had steady jobs in Israel and they decided to move (back, for my mother) to the U.S. to be closer to my grandparents. This was a bold decision for my mother, who was employed by the government as a psychologist, helping troubled youth recover from drug addiction. And it was much bolder for my father, who, brilliant though he was, was an immigrant with a heavy accent. Look around you wherever you are and you will see brilliant people who were doctors, lawyers, government leaders in other countries who are forced to do the rough kind of manual labor that we take for granted. My dad didn’t know what kind of career he’d end up with here and he moved here anyway, to make a better life and to be near his wife’s family.
My mother began working immediately as a family therapist and doing research into the kind of psychological demons and family tragedies no one wants to think about unless they’re forced to. My father commuted back and forth from Tel Aviv to NY, continuing on with his job in the former while trying to have a normal life with his family in the latter.
Then, they made a bolder decision. My mom had an idea: the Egyptian cotton baby gifts that she’d received when I was born had been so beautifully made…why not start a line of long johns and layette to sell in America? She had never worked in a clothing company, never made a pattern, never sewn a garment save for her high school home-ec projects and yet, she thought, why not give it a try?!
My grandparents signed onto the idea immediately. They had seen my mom pursue plenty of ideas on a whim and somehow she always managed to make them work. She started as a Design major at Syracuse, transferred to become a Polysci major at The New School and finished at Sonoma State with a B.A. and an M.A. in Psychology. She ran her first drug treatment program in California before she was 24 and moved all the way to Israel without knowing a word of Hebrew and ended up with gainful employment and a fantastic husband. They knew if she felt passionate enough about this new idea, she would make it work.
My grandfather set to work building a full-on warehouse in the basement and my father found a couple of factories in Israel who were willing to work with a tiny new company. That’s when my mother’s vision kicked in. She designed a line small enough to fit into the attaché case she carried with her on her first sales appointments. She went door to door to the best boutiques on Long Island and got her first orders. Her first shipment, to Denny’s, sold out and garnered her a reorder within a day. From there she began to expand the line and exhibit at trade shows. Her talent and capabilities grew with the business and she adapted to every new category she added.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been bumps along the way but they are too many and too unglamorous to list here. Suffice it to say, there is nothing easy about the garment industry but if you approach it with love and passion, as my mother always has and continues to do, it can be very rewarding.
My mother continues to design every Pippa & Julie garment and run the company at the same time. We’ve long since moved out of the house with my grandfather’s hand-built racks and my father has since retired. We have a team of forty-something people in our New York office who support her work and I’m proud to be a part of that team.
I’ve learned so many lessons from my mom, but the one that I want to impart to you today is this: we raise bold kids by supporting their dreams and their unique talents. I hope that my mom’s dreams can inspire your bold kid someday as they inspired me.
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