It is my greatest pleasure to feature a visionary woman and seller of stunning hair coverings. Many of you have already heard of Judith Levy, the founder of Judith de Paris. I have been hoping to interview her and share her ideas and stories ever since this site was founded. And, even better, she wants to do a giveaway exclusively for Wrapunzel members! Giveaway details at the bottom of this article, but now, here is Judith’s story, as well as some special interview questions:
Judith de Paris – The Story
My name is really Judith and I am actually from Paris 😉 I moved to the USA three years ago when I got remarried. I live in Silver Spring MD where my husband leads the Sephardic minyan hosted by YISE.
I have always been in love with words, and therefore I am an editor. I work with the French edition of Artscroll for more than ten years, proof reading the guemara and the chumash. I also translate from English and Hebrew to French.
Before I got remarried two and a half years ago, my husband to be asked me if I would consider switching my beautiful, long trendy sheitel for a kisuy (as they say in Hebrew) according to the Sephardic halachic rulings.
“No way, Jay!” In France, women switch from tichel to sheitel because they don’t want to be mistaken as Arab women!
Plus, this scarves look like nothing. No style, no character, nothing. My smart fiancé accepted my decision and I went to the chupa with my long sheitel.
After a few months in Silver spring, my husband hesitantly asked me what I thought would be a good answer to give to those people in his minyan who didn’t really understand why the rabbi’s wife wears a sheitel when he himself keeps telling them that Sephardic women should cover their hair with a kisuy. My answer was immediate but in some way I didn’t really measure the consequences of these few words: I told him to tell them that I am going to try.
For my husband it was carved in the stone and he took it for granted: from now on his wife will wear a tichel. I actually did it every day but not when we were going out to weddings or any kind of events. Then, we had an important wedding in the community and I was really eager to please my husband and give him due respect by showing to everybody out there that I was sensible and receptive to my husband opinions and advices. (For me nothing was more precious than to succeed where I had once failed : my marriage. I was therefore ready to go out of my way for that. My Moroccan background also taught me that the honor you give to your husband is the cornerstone of the home you try to build.) I looked for a nice kisuy and found a casquette, very Parisian style. Perfect for me.
Then came the great news, my son got engaged and was to be married in England in July. My first concern was not my dress but my hair covering. Along with my stepdaughters, we toured the whole Baltimore to find THE hair piece. We found either old fashioned (mother in law kind of hats 😉 ) or plain scarves. Since we couldn’t find the perfect one, I bought around ten different scarves matching my dress even a piece of expensive lace (that was used later for my stepdaughter’s wedding outfit). But deep inside of me, I knew that I was not totally ready to wear this “thing” for my son’s wedding. These “things” are an insult to an elegant evening dress !
Come July, I packed all my scarves, all the matching accessories and my beautiful sheitel that I intended to give to one of my sisters. The wedding was full of emotion and some tension too because of the situation of the chatan’s parents. My first child was getting married and it was the first “family” reunion with my ex in-laws since my second marriage a year ago. The stress was at its peak and my trembling hands were not able to tie this mitpachat, the way I wanted it to look. I got dressed, tried to tie the tichel and kept failing. I asked the make up lady who was taking care of my daughters at that time if she had ever took care of a sheitel which had been sitting for months in a drawer and travelled to England in a random bag in the bottom of my suitcase. She tried her best, the result was acceptable. That was my last experience wearing a sheitel.
From England we flew to Israel where my daughter got engaged and where I met my first volumizer (and my first son in law). I wore it for the first time for her engagement party without a wig grip under it (I didn’t know such a thing existed!) I promise you, you don’t want to see the pictures that were taken at the end of the evening…
Since my husband was sick during most of our vacation, I didn’t really have a chance to visit the plethora of mitpachot stores that are available in Jerusalem.
For my daughter’s wedding, I had two months and lots of energy to find a kisuy. I didn’t even try to find something in the USA. I just surfed the web to find the most elegant stores in Israel as I had decided to do my shopping when I will get there. I met Rinati Lakel on the web but visited her store two days before the wedding. I was wonderfully welcomed by an awesome hostess who took the time to exchange my volumizer ( I had bought the higher one which was not necessary since I am 6ft) and to pick with me the exact color and the exact head jewel I needed. We spent quite a long time in the store tying and retying till I felt comfortable enough. During the pre wedding shopping, we got to know a fair amount of mitpachot stores where we got a few mitpachot for my daughter and myself. When I came back home, I felt so fortunate to be able to go to shul with a neatly tied kisuy.
I felt like I was accomplishing a real kiddush Hashem.
Somehow, I started to feel like I should share my “discovery” with the ladies of our community. I told my husband that somebody should really think about bringing those hair pieces from Israel and help American married women to cover their hair with elegance.
“Why couldn’t you do it?”
“Me ? business ? Are you kidding me ? Everybody knows that I a much more comfortable with letters than with numbers. Nope, that’s not for me.”
That should have been the end of my idea but I couldn’t let go. Each time I went to shul, I noticed that the ladies around could really use some help with their hair covering. Most of them were very young and for a Parisian like me it was heartbreaking to see them with these scarves (either too flat or too bulky, nobody knew of a volumizer then and used a lot of smart artifacts in lieu of volume under the scarves). So I jumped and here I was again at my computer scrutinizing the web for the best designers. Eventually, I started with Sarah from Sarah creations who suggested me to order a few padded caps. I reluctantly ordered five of them (after all I had my own one and I knew for a fact that it slipped all the way down the head ten minutes after I have tied your mitpachat). She was right. The demand was immediately immense. As for today, we sold almost 300 of them around the country. When I understood that, I asked Rinati Lakel, who registered the boubou aka volumizer as a patent pending creation, to give me exclusivity on the volumizer for the USA. I got the American mentality pretty fast : I have created this business for a mitsva and to help women but I kept in mind that all that work had to become an income for our extended family and allow my husband to learn while being free of financial concerns.
It’s been a year now and we are still not there… God willing, it will become a full time job soon!
Wow, what an incredible story! Here are photos of the lastest summer styles from Judith:
I always hope to be able to keep the quality and the style while lowering the prices. I think that might happen when we grow bigger and sell more. In the meantime, we sell our items at the same price as the actual designers do in their own store despite the shipping fees and all the work involved. we want american ladies to benefit from these beautiful products!
The kaly came out last year. both products are patent pending by Rinati Lakel and have required lots of work and efforts. the kaly is now made in different fabrics and colors to satisfy all the needs. prepare yourself to a surprise, a new version of the kaly will be available in a month or so. I am quite sure it will become a favourite !
Then come the veil turbans and the yom yom/yomi. Ladies got used to the volumizer but are not always able to wear another heavy piece of fabric. Those hit the spot. They are light, colorful and easy to tie. (i am mostly referring to those ladies who wear glasses and I am one of them )