Founder, Barbara Shaw Gifts
married, three sons Aliya:
1986 from Sydney, Australia
Barbara Shaw Gifts is a totally unique gift shop at 2 Bezalel
Street in Jerusalem. We make and sell beautiful, useful and stylish gifts
inspired by Jerusalem, its landscapes and flowers, and by Jewish
Together with designers, seamstresses and other artists, we make
most of our items ourselves in my studio in Givat Shaul. Everything – aprons,
tote bags, mugs, cushions, halla covers, teapots, trivets, kids and baby
T-shirts with Hebrew or Yiddish sayings – comes in bright, bold colors with
designs that reflect a confident Israeli style.
I create many designs,
oversee production, buy fabrics in Tel Aviv and bring them back to Jerusalem,
where I do the cutting myself. We also market through other Israeli stores and
export to places like the Jewish Museum in New York, to London, Paris and
Denmark as well as to Judaica shops around the world.
to Israel in 1973, studied history of art and archeology at the Hebrew
University, studied art in England and Holland, then returned to Australia and
studied marketing.How did you get into this?
I was looking for a gift to
send overseas and couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy, so I decided to make
something myself. What I wanted was something bright and cheerful that spoke of
Israel, something that was useful, not breakable so it could be shipped, and not
heavily religious. Many shops sell items with traditional motifs, but I wanted
something different, something bold, not dainty. I took the Jaffa orange,
created a very iconic design, and put it on aprons, trivets and teapots. Or the
pomegranate – lots of designers use that, but I do it in a much more
I solve a lot of gift dilemmas, what to give a
grandmother, uncle, or grandchild. Humor is big with me – we have napkins that
look like matza, aprons with “Beste Balebaste” on them, mugs with Yiddish
sayings, “Man plans and God laughs.” Living here isn’t simple, so getting a
laugh is always good.Who buys?
Three markets: local people giving gifts,
locals wanting to send gifts overseas, and tourists. We’re increasing our export
efforts. I like the idea of products being made here, using Israeli talent, and
being exported around the world.
Working for my
Holocaust-survivor parents, who had a printing business.Worst job?
Delivering newspapers in Sydney, which is very hilly. I didn’t last very long
walking up and down the hills at the crack of dawn.High moment?
exciting to get my products into places like the Jewish Museum and taking large
orders from a catalog in Holland, knowing that something that came out of my
little studio in Givat Shaul would travel so far. But smaller moments, too –
when I’ve had a feeling about something fabulous I wanted to make, then watch it
come into being.Low moment?
There’s a constant struggle between having
too much to do and too few hands to do it. And seeing prices for raw materials
rise, while you know there’s only so much you can charge.
First item you
Three aprons, three designs, one of which was a cactus. It seemed
appropriate to me, but people said it looked more like Mexico.
none of the first three were good, but you have to start somewhere. It’s
important to just get started.Biggest-selling item?
Aprons, with many
different designs. People laughed at the beginning, “Who wears aprons anymore?”
But I’ve sold thousands and thousands of them. I have all kinds of aprons for
men, women and kids. People love them.Price range?
Most items are under
NIS 100 to NIS 150. Most expensive? Large tablecloths, around NIS 300. Least
expensive? Pencil cases, notebooks, magnets, NIS 20 to NIS
Nothing that’s meant to be controversial.
not this? I’ve always wanted to develop a design incubator to help artists learn
to market and sell their work.In five years?
More and better.
like to open one more store in Jerusalem and maybe two in Tel
The simple things: running a business
that’s reasonably successful, having my family in Israel, raising kids who are
I’m living my dream. This is the happiest and most
fulfilling time of my life. When the store is hopping, people looking, buying,
delighted with what they see, that’s incredibly satisfying.
Israel is becoming known for innovative and creative design. I feel privileged
and grateful to be a part of that, knowing I’m contributing in my own way.