The one-year-old, glossy, high-end Hadar Orthodox women’s fashion magazine is capitalizing on Orthodox Jewish lifestyle becoming more upscale and will publish its third edition just after Purim.
The magazine is the brainchild of a Yeshiva University Stern College for Women graduate and the product of hers and a good friend’s creativity and entrepreneurship.
“I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Bari Weizman, owner and content director of Hadar, who explains that her magazine embodies the essence of the modest Jewish woman while exploring her desire to remain current and fashionable.
The idea came to Weizman one Shabbat when she was schmoozing with her sister about how all the little girls in their hometown of Monsey were wearing the same headbands with big, poufy bows, and the women were dressed in the same black boots on their walk to shul.
“I started thinking about all of these different fashion bloggers and how there is such a big interest in the Jewish community to add more fashion into one’s wardrobe, instead of just putting a Kiki Riki [shell] under everything,” Weizman tells JNS.org.
As she grew more excited about the idea she reached out to a former colleague, Shevi Genuth, and invited her to be a partner. Genuth now serves as editor and publisher of Hadar. The team also recruited Jessica Gugenheim, one of Weizman’s family friends, as fashion editor.
Gugenheim, who lives in Manhattan, describes the magazine as individualistic. “I don’t think our style is trying to follow any certain drum,” she says. Gugenheim looks for a combination of elegance and high-fashion at price points that are affordable for the average Orthodox Jew, who likely has to pay for day school and feed numerous children.
“I love working with pieces from H&M or Target and making them [the models] look like they just walked off the runway,” she tells JNS.org.
The magazine uses the developers’ religious friends instead of professional models, although flipping through its pages of spiked heels, creative layering, and trendy colors, one would never know.
Gugenheim worked previously at Anthropologie, a popular national retailer. There, she says, she “dressed the customers.” While each client had her own concern – a petite figure, recent weight loss – she says finding fashion for Hadar is a more sophisticated challenge. Hadar only features skirts, long sleeves, and high necklines. Gugenheim, who has a degree in art history, works with national brands to get samples that fit the frum bill.
“I just see fashion as a different expression of art,” she says. “As opposed to painting on a canvas, the designers are painting with fabric.”
Her first fashion tip: confidence.
“Anything you wear with confidence will look better,” she says.
But can Hadar Magazine survive the huge transformations occurring in all media sectors, from media owners to modeling agencies, from marketers to advertisers? Media channels are becoming more fragmented and the consumer is more empowered than ever before. Individuals become media in their own right, through blogging and social media. Is there a place for a new print magazine?
In the Orthodox community, says Weizman, the answer is yes. Using an iPad or a Kindle on Shabbat is still—and will likely always be—forbidden. Hence, the Orthodox community turns to print. Hadar reader Yonina Leibowitz of Monsey, NY, is one example.
“During the week, I don’t have time to sit and read a magazine,” Leibowitz tells JNS.org.
“I work full time. On Shabbat, I read all my magazines, the books I want to read. I don’t think print will really go out of style in my community,” she says, noting that she looks to Hadar for clothing trends she can easily put into practice.
Moreover, according to several recent articles, the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle is becoming more upscale. A simple Google search leads to sites touting high-end wines, sophisticated restaurants, and top-styled wigs.
“There are so many things that [Orthodox] Jewish women are demanding at this point, that a high-end fashion magazine could be on the list of things they want to see in their lives,” says Weizman, who notes that Hadar is not only about clothes but also about empowering Jewish women. Articles include topics on budgeting for kosher food, managing the cost of yeshiva tuition, and being an Orthodox career woman and what that means for Shabbat and holidays.
Weizman says business at Hadar is steady and growing. She is carrying out diverse tactics to achieve success, including reaching out to and sometimes securing national advertisers. The publication prints 10,000 copies per issue and distributes thousands of promotional copies to ensure the right eyeballs are on the page for the advertisers. For example, every student at Stern College gets a copy. The magazine has also been stuffed in the giveaway bags at a mix of high-end Orthodox events, and it is partnering with several non-profits, including the Jewish Agency, Hillel, and Chabad.
Ultimately, Weizman and Genuth have dreams of their company expanding, first to a monthly and eventually to a global brand. Weizman toys with the idea of publishing Hadar cookbooks or other related periodicals.
“The creativity and passion comes out with every issue,” she says.
Maayan Jaffe wrote this article for JNS and is a freelance writer in Overland Park, Kan.
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