"I have always had a creative streak," says Shira
Friedman, the owner of Trumpeldor
in Nachlaot, Jerusalem
that stocks a wide
range of quality second-hand, vintage and designer clothing. "When I was little
I would play cops and robbers with my brothers, and they'd lose interest when
I'd spend an hour dressing up," recalls Shira. "As a teenager I loved to dress
up, play and perform and also appreciated old stuff and antiques."
matriculated from Beis Yaakov High School in Johannesburg in 2004. Growing
up she always walked to the beat of her own drum. She was never rebellious as
such but lived in her own fantasy world, was not affected by social
pressures and developed into an adult intent on following her
After school she came to Israel for the first time to study at a
midrasha/ seminary. "At the time I saw Israel through the lenses of an institution; not as
somewhere that I could live." Afterwards, she went to an art seminary Midreshet
Emunah in Talpiot, which offered a program for art students from abroad. Shira
then travelled to New York for two months where it was "freezing and miserable"
and came back to Israel in the spring. "I felt freed from the snow, and with the
budding yellow flowers, felt as if I'd come home."
L.O.V.E by Troupe Trumpeldor from Shira Kaplan on Vimeo.
Shira returned to South Africa, met with
the Jewish Agency and requested to be put on the first aliyah flight (a month
later). "Growing up, I felt very conscious and uncomfortable of being white and
privileged and a sense of Jews not belonging in Africa. The Jewish community in
South Africa is somewhat insular and doesn’t always realize the poverty and pain
that surrounds them. A good friend is involved in social activism there but it
felt more right for me to put the same energy into something similar in Israel."
Shira grew up Zionistic and her family supported her decision.
arrived during Operation Cast Lead and started an ulpan on a kibbutz in the
south. "With rockets overhead, it was scary and a lot of people left," says
Shira. "But I am very practical and realistic, and thought to myself that I can
always get to a bomb shelter. Besides, it was my home at the time."
months, Shira moved to Nachlaot in Jerusalem. She found the transition from
kibbutz to city life challenging. "Suddenly there was no hederochel
room) and I had to organize food, as well as a place to live and a job," remarks
She began waitressing while looking for work. At the time the store
Trumpeldor was already open but had a very different feel and was open just a
few hours a week. Run by a special retired woman Nama Frankel Schabb, the store was more like a gemach
and was used as a place to spend time with neighborhood
"I walked by and thought that it looked like a cool place,"
recalls Shira. "I popped my head in and gave my details in case they ever needed
help." That week Nama was sick and Shira found herself in the store cleaning up
and decorating, and soon sourcing and buying clothes.
After a while, Nama could
see that vintage was really Shira's thing and offered to sell Shira the
business. Since it wasn't really thriving at the time, Shira could afford to buy
it. To this day Shira speaks of Nama (who passed away last week) with fondness,
respect and admiration.
To start, Shira waitressed at night to pay the bills and
worked in the store in the day. "However, I found that dividing my time was too
difficult," says Shira. "Eventually, I figured that I may not make the rent but
I want to put all my energy into the store. When I did, it started thriving and
became the center of my social life too. We have built a community here and have
the best friends."
Shira partnered with a friend Judy at a later stage and they
used to joke that the store was the Cheers
of the neighborhood. "There are
always people hanging out and dressing up here," says Shira. "We have an old
record player, and friends stop by daily for a chat or counseling session. We've
even had surprise birthday parties here."
Naturally, Shira met her husband Avi
at Trumpeldor. "He came in wanting to know if I knew anything about antiques,"
smiles Shira. "But really someone had suggested the match and he wanted to meet
me!" Avi inevitably asked Shira to marry him on the premises too, and they have
now been married for nine months.
The store attracts a diverse clientele
that includes the young and hip with a penchant for quality period-piece
clothing, clowns, tourists, students and random people looking for evening wear.
"People even come from far away such as Akko and Eilat."
offers vintage bridal rentals from home, which evolved when she was getting
married and was searching for vintage wedding dresses online. At the time, she
made the business decision to buy an amazing collection (some more than 100 years
old), of which she chose the most befitting for herself. She also sells stunning
vintage accessories to go with the dresses.
"Buying second-hand clothes
means you suddenly have access to good quality European clothing, leathers,
boutique and designer goods that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to otherwise
afford," says Shira. "When you compare them to something cheap and overpriced
that's made in China, you feel instantly just how good they feel and fit on your
body – and they're usually one-of-a-kind and a fraction of the price." Most of
the clothes Shira wears are second-hand, apart from undergarments she
Shira is a multi-faceted woman with many passions and
interests. Last year, she went to the film school Camera Obscura in Tel Aviv,
and although she used to spend hours as a child fantasizing and coming up with
stories, and considers film her first love, she has put her studies and dream on
hold for now. "It's not practical to spread yourself too thin," says Shira, who
has learnt this from experience. "One day soon I will move on to the next
"I love Jerusalem," says Shira. "When I studied in Tel Aviv, I saw
how dumbfounded the others were by this, and how they avoided coming to the
city. Perhaps my love has something to do with being religious, but I'm very
Long-term, Shira and Avi have plans to move out of the city to
enjoy another of their loves – the outdoors. "We'd ideally like space to build,
to plant and to live sustainably. Part of working in vintage is the principle
and philosophy of recycling, re-using and avoiding over-consuming.We'd like to
give our kids that kind of life."
"Occasionally we get customers weary of the
previous owner's dormant energy or spirit in the clothes. But we ask them what
they think about staying at hotels, often regarded as luxury, with all the
constantly re-used linen and towels and with different people sleeping in the
room every night. Many people with poor immigrant backgrounds regard first-hand
products as a status symbol even if they're junk, but in general the young and
more open-minded crowd gets it. All the clothes are of course washed, cleaned
and repaired in our work room."
The store stands out from other stores for its
regularly updated clothes (every few days) and the shopping experience. Shira
hand-picks each item from markets, church sales and yard sales, especially when
they go abroad to visit their families. "There's not so much in Israel as it's
such a young nation with so many immigrants."The goods range in price from NIS
10 to around NIS 200.
Avi works at Trumpeldor with Shira and is involved
in the day-to-day running and upkeep of the store. "We're constantly adapting
the store to our needs so it's useful to have Avi around to paint and build
shelves. Although Shira has the final say regarding clothing, she admits that Avi
is heavily involved with the men's clothing. They also both spend a lot of time
on social media promoting the store. She reflects how they're a good team and
work well together.
"For a lot of our anglo friends, Trumpeldor is one of
their favorite things about Jerusalem," shares Shira. "Many of our friends are
interested in photography and fashion, and we often have spontaneous photo
shoots featuring customers. It's fun and leaves people feeling great." Shira and
Avi's friends Yossi and Jordana, who work at Trumpeldor, are very into fashion,
photography and film and use their talents and skills to promote the
"Avi and I and our friends like dressing up," smiles Shira. "We're
pranksters. We choose theatrical themes for Shabbat get-togethers and recently
threw together the most amazing 50s-themed thanksgiving dinner at the last
minute. We also dress up our dog up in a bow tie or scarf for Shabbat, and right
now, we're planning our Egyptian royalty-theme for Pesach. We enjoy playing."
"The best part of my job? "It's really great living life the way that I want to
and not having to go into work and be answerable to a boss. I love that we're
constantly creating in the store and on the lookout for the next fun thing to
do. In spring it's all about the dresses and in winter it's about the coats."
"Being my own boss can, however, be nerve-wracking and scary sometimes," says
Shira. "Occasionally I wish I had the security of a paycheck." Shira also
struggles with people who come in, don’t understand second-hand clothing and
dispute the value of goods."They don’t appreciate how much work goes into each
item and that the price is serious. I've learned from this to always be
respectful of a price quoted to me."
At the moment,Trumpeldor is super-busy in
preparation for Purim. The store stocks innovative ideas for Purim costumes –
from 1950s house-wife outfits, to a set of 1970s pyjamas, to gypsy and rock 'n
roll wear. "Half-price sale this Sunday!" declares Shira.
"It was once
really hard for me to get my head round the fact that you only have one lifetime
to be what want to be, and that you can be a jack of all trades but master of
none. But I see now that you don’t have to accomplish all your dreams at once,"
says Shira. "What would I be in another lifetime? I'd travel endlessly and take
in all that the world has to offer. Or, I'd be an actress." For now, nothing
makes Shira happier than seeing her customers enjoying the clothes and having
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