Ariella Dubrowin is a self-professed bra snob. Specifically, she’s a nursing bra snob.
And she can be forgiven this conceit, because she uses her knowledge to make sure the nursing mothers of Israel are wearing the best-fitting brassieres possible.
At Hanaka Tova (Good Nursing), her store in the Hadar Mall in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, Dubrowin offers not only expert fittings but also lots of other items and services for pregnant and lactating women that are unavailable under one roof elsewhere in Israel.
Women do not simply walk in and buy a breast pump, for example. Dubrowin ascertains why they’ll be pumping milk (once in a while at home, every day at work, to build up milk supply, etc.) and then gives them appropriate types to try in the privacy of the extra-large fitting rooms. The tester models are sterilized between uses.
“We are the only store in the country, as far as I know, that allows women to try out pumps,” she says. The store also sells parts for pumps as well as bags, nipples and other accessories for storing and feeding breast milk.
Hanaka Tova carries maternity tops, pants and skirts; nursing tops, dresses, cover-ups, shawls and nightgowns; homeopathic and naturopathic postpartum and breastfeeding remedies; pregnancy and nursing pillows; breast pads; reusable diapers and covers; and nursing bracelets to help moms keep track of time between feedings.
A good portion of the merchandise is made in Israel under the Hanaka Tova brand and other brands such as InCollina, Halav-M, Imahot, Mamasita and Peek-a-boo.
There’s a curtained-off nursing corner with comfortable chairs, a sink and a water machine for the use of all nursing moms in the mall. There’s an infant scale “because mothers like to weigh their babies” and because the lactation consultant who comes to give guidance by appointment weighs the infants before and after nursing.
“But our real specialty is nursing bras – especially large sizes beyond double-D – and we’re the only store that does proper professional fittings,” says Dubrowin, a Connecticut native who made aliya from Washington, DC, in 2003 and lives in Neveh Daniel with her husband and 10-yearold son.
Her son was born right between her older and younger sisters’ babies in the United States, and so Dubrowin became aware of the American marketplace of products for nursing women and saw that it barely existed in Israel. She bought a nursing bra at the hospital and then couldn’t find another one like it.
“There wasn’t a single store that carried more than a few nursing bras. So I threw around an idea with friends about doing home visits selling nursing bras to moms with new babies. And that’s how the business started,” she says.
Companies that make nursing bras were happy to train her as a fitter.
“Over the years I started carrying more products and it became impractical to go to people’s houses, so first I opened a website (www.hanakatova.com) because I believe that people who know what bra they want shouldn’t have to leave their houses. And then two years ago I opened a brick-and-mortar store on Derech Hebron and six months ago I moved here,” she explains. “I hope we’ve built a place that is friendly for newborns outside the house.”
She does not have a business background, but did a comprehensive study of similar stores in North America, such as the humorously named Melons & Clementines breastfeeding boutique in Montreal and the Upper Breast Side in Manhattan.
Hanaka Tova is situated inside a maternity and pediatric clinic just off the food court in Hadar Mall.
“The location is extremely mother-friendly,” says Dubrowin.
“The mall was recently renovated and there are pregnant women and people pushing strollers everywhere.
We cater to the entire Jerusalem-area population: Jews of all types, Arabs and sometimes even diplomats – or their wives – who are here on assignment.”
She and her two employees speak fluent English and Hebrew.
Customers find Hanaka Tova mostly through recommendations of friends, relatives, lactation consultants, childbirth educators, doulas, sleep trainers and birth coaches.
“It’s great to have an Anglo so knowledgeable about breastfeeding and breastfeeding supplies,” says Rachelle Oseran, a longtime Lamaze-certified childbirth educator, teacher trainer and labor doula based in the Arnona area of Talpiot, home to many English-speaking residents and diplomatic families.
“Ariella speaks their language and she has a much larger selection than any other place because she specializes in this. I know I can completely trust her and her products when I refer my students and clients to her.”
Dubrowin attends professional conferences in Israel for doulas and lactation consultants and has developed relationships with them, leading to actual and virtual customers from across the country. The store and website also offer articles in Hebrew about subjects relating to birth and breastfeeding.
Dubrowin jokes that until she came along with a big variety of nursing bras imported from various countries, Israel’s nursing mothers all seemed to be wearing size 85C nursing bras purchased in the hospital when they were too overwhelmed and sleep-deprived to question if the fit was right.
“I have found that so many people in this country are wearing completely the wrong size bras,” she says. And she’s on a mission to fix that.Hanaka Tova is open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 9 a.m.to 2 p.m. (1 p.m. during winter months) on Friday and holiday eves. Information: 054-649- 2110.