Photo Credit: Courtesy

When I think of what fashion and beauty mean to me, I think of joy, excitement, self-expression, exploration, and reinvention. Fashion is a vehicle for me to communicate my thoughts and feelings, and each time I take a step into my closet, I think about how I want to feel that day.

Fortunately there are brands that embrace women’s self-expression and creativity. Ana + Ava is a line of headscarves and accessories that speaks to a woman’s desire to fuel her creative juices. The brand fuses style, comfort, and fun into each of their headscarves, hats, masks, and athleisure caps. We can all use a dose of exuberance and joy, and Ana + Ava’s stylish printed headscarves are just what the doctor ordered. If you are looking for something to go on top of a sheitel or your own hair, look no further than their amazing berets for fall.

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To see the entire collection, visit www.anaandavashop.com. Looking for unique ways to style your headscarf, and want to see how versatile this accessory can be? Head on over to @anaandava to watch the bevy of tutorials and inspiration.

I spoke to Ana + Ava’s co-founders and co-designers, Shana and Chava, about their business.

 

Michal Goldfein: What inspired you to start your brand, Ana + Ava?

Shana: Chava and I met in FIT ten years ago. I was already married and she was still single at the time. After graduating, Chava got married and we both moved into the same neighborhood and saw each other at a coffee shop. We discussed our business idea, and from that moment on it’s been a true sisterhood, friendship, and a dream to work together.

Chava: Shana studied fashion and I studied accessories design. We both took a specialty in millinery, which is hat design. We both have always loved fashion but particularly accessories. Even in our personal style, we both have crazy shoe, glasses, and jewelry collections. It was a natural progression for us, evolving from creating the block hats to casual caps to headbands, and eventually we morphed into making the headscarves and tichels.

Can you describe your relationship and how you balance the business and design aspects of your brand?

Chava: Between the two of us, there are seven kids, and we both lead very busy lives. Luckily we both have a fashion intuition so that the design aspect of the brand comes naturally to us. It’s a pleasure and an outlet for us. As far as the business part, it was a slow process for us to develop our business knowledge since we both are more oriented towards the creative side. We are so proud of what we have learned and accomplished. We asked for help and learned from others. You don’t have to be good at everything all the time, and we are grateful for the help we received along the way.

Thankfully there’s been a real resurgence of women gravitating towards headscarves. Why do you think that is happening?

Shana: We think that especially because of Covid, women are really embracing comfort. Women are also a little less apologetic than they used to be. Obviously it’s important to look good, but there has to be a balance.

Can you describe the design process when creating a headscarf?

Shana: Most of the time we will see a print or an embellishment and it will just flow from there. Before the season we have a general sense of what we want. We work on our samples and tweak them. Each season we like to have something new and fresh, but there are pieces that remain a classic. For example, our star print is always successful and it is used in myriad of ways, including on our leopard and star headscarf called A Star is Born.

What challenges have you faced since starting your brand?

Chava: There were so many times where it would’ve been easier to throw in the towel – for example, competitors or family situations we were dealing with. We kind of flowed through the beginning of our business. We started out as two moms who wanted a creative outlet, and opportunities just came our way. We were at the Javits Center one time, sharing a booth with someone, and we had big brands asking us to fill huge orders that we weren’t prepared for. We weren’t able to fill those orders and initially it was disappointing. In those times we could’ve beaten ourselves up about it, but instead we said, “OK, let’s figure out how to be ready the next time.”

It was a wake-up call for us that sometimes there are opportunities that you aren’t always ready for, and that’s perfectly fine. We were thrilled that our products had gained such a great reception from people and it was exciting to have that. Our progression was in the right order and time. I’m inspired by our beginning. We’ve been doing this for 14 years, and seeing that response was such a confidence boost.

How would you describe the aesthetic of your headscarves, hats, and accessories?

Shana: Casual, fun, feminine, and playful. Our brand is whimsical and happy.

Which headscarves from your collection are your favorites?

Chava: My personal favorite from our current season is Beach Babe, which has a retro 70s feel, is all-year-round, and has a great stripe print.

Shana: From the past, I loved the pink with the red hearts.

I also love the unique way you tie your headscarves. Do you have any tutorials?

Chava: Yes we have them in the highlights on our Instagram account. We’ve even had people FaceTime us so we can show them how to style them. There’s such a wide range of possibilities when styling these scarves; for example, you can wear them the Israeli way, the tichel way, knot it at the top, make a side bow with it, wear it as a turban, and even wear a few at a time.

I love your Feeling Groovy headscarf. How would you style a look around this scarf?

Shana: The scarf really says it all, I’d stick to basics because the scarf is the focal point. It’s also great to wear while traveling or even at the airport.

The Bug Out Sand and Eyes on You are such fun prints. Which headscarves would you say are your most neutral and versatile prints?

Chava: The Bug Out Sand is great because it goes with denim and is a beige neutral tone. We also realized that anything with a black background is considered a neutral – people really flock to black.

Your Cappuccino Heart Beret is so chic, yet has a dose of personality which I love. What are your favorites for fall and winter?

Shana: That beret is in an amazing sweater material that is super comfortable and has the perfect touch of style with the patent leather heart.

I love your star berets as well. Can you describe how you choose which embellishments to feature on your accessories?

Chava: We’ve been doing this for so long that we really learned what works for our customers. The star is the perfect mix between edgy and classy.

I teach Zumba classes and love going jogging in the park. Your Wish Collection seems perfect for the active woman. Can you tell me what inspired you to design it?

Shana: We felt that all the Nike caps were kind of nerdy and also were shallow so they weren’t that comfortable. When we are running we want something that fits really well, and it took us a long time to find it.

Chava: About two years ago, we were both going through a crossroads in our lives and we decided to rededicate ourselves to our brand. We realized that we wanted to fulfill a need and not just be another brand that sells accessories. When we looked at the athletic products, we realized that there weren’t any cute athletic caps. So we wanted to fill that void. Especially with the athleisure market being so strong now, we wanted to take a basic cap and elevate it.

Which pieces from your Wish Collection do you recommend for different types of athletic activities?

Chava: Shana is a runner and does weightlifting, and I play tennis. The caps really work for any type of activity.

The Sprint White Cap Silver Nailhead hat is quick dry and perforated. Can you describe the design of this cap?

Shana: All our caps have elastic and a clip. Our hats are all dry fit and super light.

Your studded masks are so fabulous! Which are your favorites and what are they made out of?

Chava: We would rather not have the masks, but when Covid started we realized that mask culture is here to stay. Initially, when Covid started, the mood was depressing, and now I think we are moving towards a semblance of normalcy. We wanted to lift the mood a little bit, so we put studs and rhinestones on our masks. We love the “Hi” one and the “Lips” one. Our most popular ones are the snakeskin, stars, and tie-dye.

I love adding a dash of color or print to a classic look. Your accessory collection that has printed ties can be worn around a collared shirt or dress, and I especially love your Leopard Black print. How do you recommend wearing and styling the tie?

Chava: We love wearing it wrapped around a bun or half pony. I also love tying it like a bow tie with a blouse.

Shana: You can wear it on your wrist, on a handbag, and as a belt. Someone styled it around her ankle with a pair of loafers and it looked so good.

You’ve said that your brand “believes in finding the unique beauty in every woman and helping it shine through.” How do you think fashion and style can cultivate inner beauty and self-expression?

Shana: I think when you wake up in the morning and you feel down, and you put on something cute and then you get a compliment, it’s just a ripple effect. It makes you feel happy and brings out good vibes.

Chava: I agree! You can start from the fashion or before the fashion. Anything that you do for yourself that makes you feel good will generate positivity. You are not a beautiful person because you wear beautiful things, but if you put beautiful things on the outside it can give you the feeling of beauty. When we try to do things that put us on that trajectory, it can definitely help us get in that headspace. Also, when you meet someone and they say, “I love your beret,” and you respond, “I love your lipstick,” it establishes that point of connection.

Can you describe the importance of sisterhood and female empowerment to your brand?

Chava: It’s super important to us and it has evolved. I’ll be very honest and vulnerable: When we started, we were young and we felt very threatened when there was a trend in accessories and everyone and their mothers were involved in a headband company. We hunkered down and realized that we just needed to push forward. Over the years we came to the realization that we are very unique and good at what we do and no one can touch that. There’s enough opportunity and prosperity in the world so that everyone can be successful.

In our maturity, in our belief in ourselves and in our brand, and with emunah in that all of our needs will be met, we were able to see other women as people who can support us and we could support them as well. We were able to share information and help them develop themselves. Rooting for each other and supporting each other has become very meaningful.

Shana: We all have something different to offer. Sometimes people are just going to be better than you. We don’t have to be anyone else but the greatest version of ourselves and our brand. You have to have your own goals, and work to your own potential.

Two dollars from each mask sale is donated to Hatzalah. How important is giving back to the mission of your brand?

We heard so many amazing stories over time, and Hatzalah is a selfless, caring organization of people. It was a no-brainer that especially during Covid, they needed to be recognized. Giving back has always been part of our culture and brand identity.

What can we expect from your fall collection?

We are working on a few beanies that are going to be in natural materials. For the scarves, you are going to see plaids, pinstripes, and very earthy, wintry prints. We also have some florals that work really well for fall. We are going to bring in some varsity-themed patches for our beanies as well.

What are your goals for the future of your brand?

We want to continue on the trajectory that we are on. We will continue to produce amazing accessories and stay focused on that path. We would like to reach a broader audience, stepping outside of the Jewish community, which is our home base and whom we love, and reaching more women.

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Michal Goldfein is a personal shopper, influencer, and podcaster. Her fashion posts and outfits can be seen on Instagram @thefashiondetour. You can listen to her weekly podcast, The Fashion Detour, on Apple Podcasts, iheartradio, Spotify, and J*TribeRadio. Her newest podcast episode will air this Sunday, featuring the owner of Shabbos Brushups, Allison Chait. For fashion inquiries, please email your questions to michal@thefashiondetour.com.
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