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Taking Care of Business, Part 2

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Two more Jewish entrepreneurs who are succeeding in business 
04/29/2008

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Spring fashions at Kayla's Blessing

Last week, Oy! introduced you to one man with the beginnings of a chilled yogurt empire and another with a fast-growing t-shirt business. This week, meet Danielle Schultz, a woman out to help modest ladies stay fashionable and Josh Eisenberg, a freelance web designer and writer making the internet a more interesting place.

Putting the Mod in Modest
When Danielle Schultz decided to drop her skimpy tops and jeans to start dressing more modestly, she was confronted with racks and racks of a harsh reality—ugly, matronly clothes that looked nothing like what other girls her age were wearing.

The 27-year-old Skokie native and Ida Crown grad didn’t always care about covering up. “I used to dress in a way that didn’t make my family happy—pants, tank tops, lower cut shirts,” she says.

Schultz felt a shift toward modesty in her community about a year after she graduated from high school—many of her friends returned from a year in Israel showing less flesh than before they left. But making the change isn’t just a matter of replacing a few articles of clothing.

“When I decided to start dressing modestly, I had to throw away most of my wardrobe. It was a big transition, but the change I felt was tremendous. The way people, especially guys, treated me was shocking. Instead of being judged for my body, I was being judged for who I was. It was so crazy to me that I got such a huge response,” Schultz says.

And she wanted other women to feel that boost of self-confidence as well—without having to sacrifice their personal style—so she went to college and majored in fashion merchandising and minored in fashion design. “My plan all along was to open the store, I kind of had tunnel vision,” she says. In 2006, Shultz opened Kayla's Blessing on Chicago's far northwest side. Named after her high-style great-grandmother, the store caters to girls and women (Jewish, Christian, Muslim and unaffiliated) who go to Schultz (in person and online) to fulfill their long skirt-high fashion needs.

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Danielle displays the future of modest style

While there are different standards for modesty, Schultz follows these general guidelines: no pants, skirts that cover knees when you’re sitting down and shirts that cover elbows and collarbones. “It’s not like I want to wear a potato sack every day and people want to wear what everyone else is wearing—we really are the future of modest clothing,” she says.

Schultz carries specifically chosen pieces from collections you’d see at any department store. Her clothes are hip, in style and not just for people with a religious reason to cover up.

“There is a need for this kind of store,” says Schultz. “There are a lot of people who, not because of religion but because of common sense, believe that teenage girls shouldn’t look like hookers and that you shouldn’t have your chest hanging out in the office.” But, Schultz believes going modest is a personal decision. “I did this for myself and I don’t think anyone should change for other people or because their religion says so. Good things come from doing what you yourself think is right.”  

Mastering the Web
Josh Eisenberg arrived at Columbia College from Wheaton to study fiction writing—he lasted two weeks and three days. “I knew it was horribly wrong,” he says. But there he was in Chicago with an apartment and a job at a restaurant.

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Josh might be thinking about E.B. White

He had started designing websites in high school—his first effort involved Jennifer Aniston as the repeating background and was, as Eisenberg says, terribly lame. Luckily, age and experience won out over celebrity worship. He stepped up his design skills, stuck with life in the city and started freelancing as a web designer and writer.

Keeping with his love for writing, he also contributes articles to his own blog, Berg With Fries as well as to Jargon Chicago and book reviews—in print and on YouTube—to UR Chicago. Check out his latest review, brought to you by the letter "E."

   

About a year ago, Eisenberg partnered with graphic designer and friend Byron Flitsch to create the successful web, print and audio/visual design business, Boys From Jupiter. “I’d been doing freelance web design stuff but thought I’d be able to do more with a partner. We talked about teaming up and sending work to each other, but it really came from us hanging out and realizing we could work together,” Eisenberg says.

After deciding to team up, they had to come up with a name. “We were sitting around for weeks thinking about robots and other horrible names. Then Byron remembered a schoolyard chant: ‘Boys are from Jupiter because they are stupider and girls are from Mars because they are superstars.’ I was working on a site for a yoga studio and the client told me that Jupiter is the planet of money and prosperity. It just made sense,” he says.

Today, the boys have both been able to quit their night jobs and have worked on print and online projects with a wide variety of businesses including Lovely BakeshopFivefold Ink and Serendipity Theater. But working independently isn’t for everyone. “The biggest challenge is motivating yourself. I often have to leave the house to make that happen. Even if you don’t have anything to do, you always have things to do—update the site, look for new clients ... we have to work when there’s not any work,” Eisenberg says.

But the payoff is pretty great. “One thing I like about web design in general is the immediacy of it. I can design a site and put it up tod ay and hundreds of people can see it tonight. It’s not every medium that can you see what people do and what the end result is. I like that sense of creating something people can enjoy,” he says.

Do you know Jews running local businesses? Leave a comment or drop us a note and let us know what you and your entrepreneurial pals are up to.

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