Travel to any part of the world and most likely you will find a Jewish community. Such is the case in the South American country of Venezuela, whose biggest waves of Jewish immigration occurred after World War II. One of those who made the city of Caracas his home was Andres Apeloig, the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Like so many others in his new homeland, he found love and married, was blessed with a son and daughter, established a successful business, and years later became the proud grandfather of four granddaughters, including Daniela and Gabriela.
Sisters Daniela and Gabriela recently moved from Venezuela to Miami, Florida with their husbands and young children, and began the process of building a contemporary Jewish home. They felt a strong need to merge their love of Judaism and Jewish traditions with their contemporary design aesthetic. Quickly, they learned that they were not alone and that many young families were also searching for Judaica products with modern designs that would honor the past, yet look to the future.
Driven by the desire to find Judaica products that worked in harmony with elegant, minimalisti designs that they loved, but unable to find exactly what they were looking for, they created Apeloig Collection in 2014. Named after their beloved grandfather, who did not have grandsons to carry on the family name, Apeloig Collection serves as a living memory for all generations.
Apeloig Collection began with Daniela’s Master’s degree thesis project in Integrated Marketing at New York University, which required the presentation of a Business and Marketing Plan. The idea to create the collection developed, culminating in an extensive plan that included marketing, branding, investors, logistics, quality assurance and production. The establishment of a new Jewish home truly drove the idea into reality.
“We decided to start with mezuzahs because of their popularity. There are many mezuzah cases on the market right now. But a search for a mezuzah with a strong contemporary design resulted in a very few examples that we considered minimalist enough. We were looking for a mezuzah case that would be in context with modern, elegant and minimalist homes,” says Daniela.
The sisters selected acrylic as the base material because it is one of the very few clear options in the market that lets the precious scroll be seen within the case. In these cases, the sacred scroll remains visible and beautifully interacts with light. The unique design focuses on the spirituality of the mezuzah and creates the illusion that the scroll is floating on the doorframe.
“Acrylic is back in style and the material has a strong modern aesthetic. It is perfect for the contemporary look we hoped to create. Rarely is it used in Judaica, so we thought it would be unique and unexpected,” adds Gabriella. “We also like the fact that it is resistant to the elements and easy to ship for online orders!” Now available in 14 colors and three sizes, the sleek, colorful mezuzah case has received a warm reception from design lovers in the US and abroad. With backgrounds in design, marketing and fashion, sisters Daniela and Gabriela personally ensure each element of their products reflects their mission. The packaging is one reason customers find the Apeloig Collection’s products ideal for gifts for Jewish celebrations.
A line of customized mezuzah cases has been created for several major Jewish organizations including: Scheck Hillel Community School Athletic Center, the David Posnack High School, the Chabad Lubavitch Aventura South and Shaarei Binah Academy for girls.
The success of the mezuzah collection and enthusiasm from customers led to the creation of a unique line of challah breadboards, currently funded on KickStarter. While only 40% of Kickstarter campaigns are fully funded during the lifetime of the campaign, the sisters had success in just nine hours! The unusual materials and contemporary design struck a note with many in the Jewish community.
Challah boards are rarely ever made from a material like acrylic. Why? Acrylic is far more difficult to work with than more typical materials such as wood. But the sisters think the painstaking design process to make acrylic work was worth it. The team spent more than a year designing the board, and used multiple rounds of testing in local focus groups to finalize the design. They partnered with expert industrial designers and artisans to deliver a premium quality product. Five different prototypes were put through multiple tests with the end user in mind before they selected the final designs. The challah board is set to go into production in December 2016 and arrive on customers’ doorsteps by February 2017.
Features that set this challah board apart include its beautiful translucent acrylic, a built-in dish for salt or honey, a magnetic knife specially designed for acrylic, ergonomic borders for easy gripping and a custom-designed box ideal for both long-term storage and gift giving.
Tzedakah is also an important part of the sisters’ lives, and their mission is to support Jewish charities. For each Apeloig Collection challah board sold, a set of challahs will be provided to a family in need on Shabbat. The program has supported dozens of families and it is their mission to continually expand the program across the country.
The two sisters, balabustas both, are constantly searching for new materials and trends to develop products that reflect Jewish traditions in a very stylish and creative way. More products are on the way, including a Seder plate, menorah, wine fountain and Shabbat candleholders.