THERE'S SOMETHING very optimistic about companies that are expanding their business operations in the current climate, and also something praiseworthy in that expanded operations means the creations of additional jobs. Fashion designer Daphna Levinson has opened two new stores under her HDL Daphna Levinson label at an investment of NIS 1 million. Both stores are in Kfar Saba: one in G Mall and the other in the Arim Mall. According to company CEO Tzvika Levinson, the two stores were opened in an area frequented by HDL Daphna Levinson's target market, providing potential customers with alternative choices on the fashion radar. Plans are afoot for four additional stores in Israel and two in Europe by the end of 2009. The chain was founded by Tzvika and Daphna Levinson in 1995 and operates 20 stores in Israel, one in Hungary and another in Cyprus. WHENEVER THERE'S a crisis in Israel that forces a downturn in incoming tourism and a decline in restaurant clientele, the only people who go against the tide are the haredim, says restaurant proprietor Reena Pushkarna, who is making her Tandoori restaurant in Jerusalem glatt kosher for Pessah and leaving it that way after Pessah. Haredi tourists came to Israel during the first and second intifadas, she recalls, and whether the situation is tough for security reasons or economic reasons, the people who continue to patronize restaurants are haredim. Pushkarna is not alone in this observation. Tel Aviv, which once had only a handful of kosher restaurants, now is peppered with kosher eateries. And in Jerusalem, several non-kosher restaurants switched to kosher, because the proprietors realized that if the food is good, everyone will eat there regardless of their level of observance. But if the food isn't kosher, a lot of potential revenue goes down the drain, because people who eat kosher out of conviction will not compromise. Even in Haifa, where kosher dining was confined to hotels, there are close to three dozen kosher eateries. That may not sound like much for a big city, but for Haifa, it's amazing progress. THE ROMANCE of childhood fairy stories, coupled with vintage chic nostalgia, has always been the hallmark of Michal Negrin. Her jewelry and fashion designs have captured the fancy of countless customers in many parts of the world where her products are sold. Negrin has now gone more than a step further by creating Michal Negrin's World, replete with period-style furniture and furnishings, a huge variety of irresistible knickknacks and a coffee shop in her Bat Yam headquarters. The former kibbutznik has come a long way since the days when she used to run a stall in Tel Aviv's Nachlat Binyamin neighborhood. She has become an international household name, so much so that many tourists visiting Israel, when listing the sites they want to see, include a Michal Negrin store, or preferably her factory where the fruits of her fertile imagination become reality. And the reality keeps growing. Michal Negrin's World was launched earlier this month and is open to visitors. WITH ALL the tightening of purse strings that's going on, there's a sigh of regret by a lot of people who in previous years bought a new outfit for Pessah. This year, they may not be able to afford it. With this in mind, Mimosa Boutique, which specializes in imported designer clothes, has opened a surplus store in the El Ram Center in Ramat Aviv Gimmel. The store will stock leftover merchandise from previous seasons at prices ranging from NIS 99 to NIS 599. As so many designer creations are classic, it doesn't much matter if they're last season's or even the season before, so long as they are quality garments - and a new outfit is after all, a new outfit. INTERNATIONAL FASHION designer Yair Germon, who has worked for such famous fashion houses as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Liz Clairborne and Vera Wang, has had a studio at the northern end of Rehov Dizengoff in Tel Aviv for the past 10 years. But now he is moving a little closer to the sea by creating a design studio and showroom for bridal and evening wear in an enchanting loft on the Port of Tel Aviv. Part of the reason for the move is that Tel Aviv's port area is fast becoming the city's new fashion district. For Germon, who worked in New York's fashion district for several years, it's like turning back the clock. IT'S NO secret that the Japanese love to travel, nor is it a secret that they like to go to places where they haven't been before. That may, in part, explain why the Japanese Travel Guide to Israel is in second place among the best-selling guidebooks in Japan's Globetrotter series and fourth among guidebooks sold in Japan in general. Israel's Tourism Ministry, which helped in the preparation of a previous Japanese guidebook in 2001, noted last week that it had not been updated for several years until the release of the current guide in the Globetrotter series, which had been researched for several months by a Japanese team. Japanese Ambassador Haruhisa Takeuchi confirmed this week that the book is indeed in second place among the most-popular guidebooks in Japan. He had little doubt that his fellow countrymen and women would find Israel no less fascinating than he does. In a private conversation with Jerusalem Post reporters, Takeuchi said he is constantly amazed by the number of contrasts in a country that is so small, and that he loves to drive around and discover new things about Israel for himself. ACE DEPOT is embarking on a NIS 2 million campaign for Pessah that will star Gimmel Yafit and Miri Bohadana. The campaign will feature a series of clips that will be screened on Channels 2 and 10. In other Ace news, the company is joining forces with ml fashion from March 27 until April 30 in a mutually beneficial campaign in which Ace Depot customers who spend NIS 99 or more will receive an ml gift voucher for NIS 75. HERE COMES an opportunity for creative advertising and public relations people. Red Bull Israel has mounted a Best Ad Contest in which the winner will compete for the right to produce, publicize and broadcast Red Bull advertisements and commercials in all countries in which Red Bull is sold. There is a NIS 10,000 cash prize. The contest also involves a heavy Internet and billboard campaign at Red Bull points of sale. Half a million shekels are being invested in the project. Nir Laor, marketing manager for Red Bull Israel, says the contest is a great way for the Red Bull brand to renew itself. Full details are available at www.redbullbestad.co.il.