Beverely Paris was searching for something Jewish-themed and affordable that hadn't already been done by zillions of other people. One night, as she was lying in bed thinking about all the things she wanted to do, the idea for jewButt, Jewish-themed underwear, came to her. The next day, Paris purchased the domain name for a few dollars and then spoke to friends about her new idea.
"I have a lot of experience with production and I know how to make a cool brand, but I wanted something original," says the vivacious young brunette with a beaming smile. "There are already a lot of Jewish-themed T-shirts on the market, so I knew it had to be something else."
Paris grew up with a strong Jewish education in the small community of Wellington, New Zealand. Involved in Bnei Akiva and an enthusiastic Zionist, she always knew that one day she would make aliya. In 1991, at 18, she arrived "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" as she puts it, leaving behind her parents and two younger sisters. She completed her degree in English literature and political science at Bar-Ilan University and then started working for a hi-tech company in Jerusalem. Since 1997, she has made her home in the German Colony.
In 2006, when Paris shared the idea for jewButt with friends and family, the responses were very encouraging and people shared dozens of their own slogan ideas. But when she met with the CEO of Women Only and a few other industry leaders here, her enthusiasm slightly waned.
"People kept telling me that Israel is such a small market that it will be saturated quickly, and after getting a lot of good advice, I decided not to make too many at once and to focus on e-commerce, meaning people can order jewButt underwear on-line through Paypal, but it is not available in stores for the moment," Paris explains.
Her first small order was from the Tefron factory in the North. "I bought 1,000 pairs of underwear in one style but in many different colors, and I had them printed in Jerusalem," she says.
Surrounded by small pink boxes stuffed with her new line, Paris explains that although some people find the jewButt concept slightly risquÃ©, she has a deep respect for religion and is religious herself. "For me, jewButt is about Jewish identity, and it's playful. It's about fostering community and having fun with it. People shouldn't take it too seriously," she says.
Attracted by the brightly-colored packages, a girl at the table next to us leans over to ask what's inside.
"It's underwear," Paris tells her, holding up a box for her to inspect. "That I made," she adds proudly. Labeled "Kosher Style" and "No Original Sin. No Saints. No Virgin Birth," the first two slogans Paris chose to print on the underwear, each box has a small gold string on the corner and opens like a present.
For the branding, Paris turned to Big Design in Jerusalem. "The creative director there is a cute, smart Russian woman who helped me with the product's story," says Paris. "We finished at the end of May. In June, I had the underwear printed, and in August, the Web site went up."
Aside from the slogan, "95% Jewish and 5% girl" is written beneath a row of small symbols that include traditional washing instructions and the images of a hanukkia and Shabbat candles. On the inner cover reads: "jewButt wholly irreverent. If we can't wear provocative slogans on our underwear, then where else can we put them? Wear these ones in good health."
"I donate 10% of the profits to the Rape Crisis Center in Jerusalem," says Paris, pointing to the fine print that informs buyers of this beneath the logo inside the box. "Some people thought it was odd that underwear with provocative slogans would donate to a rape crisis center, but I want to make a point that jewButt is not about being promiscuous, just as being raped has nothing to do with promiscuity."
Paris also says that she has a good friend who works at the center and knows how underfunded the organization is despite doing such important work.
Although Paris has plans to expand her line to include more models, more slogans and more target markets, such as gentile-themed lines and pride lines for the gay and lesbian community, at the moment she is keeping her day job as a content director at vringo, a start-up that makes video ring tones.
"As long as I'm having fun, I'm going to keep making jewButt underwear," she says with a laugh. "No matter what happens, I'll have a really good story to tell and enough pairs of underwear to give away to friends for the rest of my life."
For more information, visit: www.jewbutt.com.
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