Voices of Jerusalem: Cool, colorful and quirky

Loren Minsky speaks to 53-year-old Anat Spiezer, the artistic and business brains behind boutique clothing store, Shesh.

Anat Spiezer 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Anat Spiezer 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
“I don’t know where it comes from but I’ve always loved clothes. Even as a little girl, I would knit and sew and it makes complete sense that I now do what I do,” explains Anat Spiezer, the buyer and owner of boutique clothing store, Shesh.
Jerusalem-based Shesh sells a collection of fun and original first-hand clothes that Anat sources from Hong Kong, Korea, China, Europe and from local designers.
“I get a lot of creative inspiration from browsing other shops and reading all types of magazines. And, I use my powers of perception. I look around and notice what people like and what people want," she says.
After the serving in the army, Anat studied art and theater at Hebrew University for a year. During that time, she bought and sold clothes in order to support herself. “I visited old ladies’ houses and raided their wardrobes and also kept an eye out for olim who brought with them interesting garments and styles. I would then fix them up and sell them on. This allowed me to enjoy financial independence.”
After a year, Anat decided she wanted to go to Art School and took time off to work on her portfolio before studying at Bezalel. “Although I enjoyed it, I was a bit bored and wanted an extra challenge. I borrowed 500 dollars from a friend and opened up a shop, Toot (Strawberry), in the German Colony on Emek Refaim Street.”
“My parents are both teachers, and I don’t come from a particularly entrepreneurial background, but starting my own business felt like a natural thing to do," she explains. "I learned on the job and ran the shop for four years. During this time, I got married to my boyfriend, Ze’ev, and we had a baby soon after. My wedding dress was truly memorable – Victorian-style with a high collar, long sleeves and a full train. It wasn’t something I’d usually wear but it was magnificent.”
Anat then lived in a caravan in the mountains for a year, before moving back to Jerusalem. She shared a shop on Jaffa Road selling imported shoes from Italy, before opening Shesh on King George Street, and then in its current location on Hillel Street in 1990. There are now a total of three stores in town – the original, another on Hillel Street that focuses on European brands of shoes and an outlet on Shmuel Hanagid Street. There is also a store in Malcha Mall.
“What I love about clothes is the ability they give you to constantly re-invent yourself and experiment with new looks. Though I’m not so keen to make changes in my personal life, I love playing around with different clothes," Anat says. "If I didn’t own a shop, I’d be a shopaholic so I feel like I have directed my passion for clothes in a healthy way.”
“My sales assistants and I are like family. Most remain in the shop for many years and they are all very special people – kind of crazy and strong individuals. We are all into astrology. I am a Leo – independent with a big ego. I know what I’m good at.”
Anat is an eight generation Jerusalemite on her father’s side and fifth generation on her mother’s. “I don’t question Jerusalem or think about leaving. Jerusalem is within me. I’m a provincial girl, and have never suffered from wanderlust. The most challenging time was the intifada but it put things into perspective. Suddenly, the priority was life and not business.”
Anat’s husband, Ze’ev, is a film director and a passionate bike rider, and two of her three sons own Shesh stores. “In the beginning, Ze’ev was very involved with the business but he now does his own thing. Ze’ev and I are opposites but we complement each other well," she says. "He is more up in the air whereas I am more grounded and practical. He is a minimalist; I am anything but a minimalist. I love my family and they are my absolute priority.”
Anat lives in Kiryat Hayovel. “Though the center of the city is a vibrant place to work; I enjoy coming home to find refuge in my garden, which is earthy and wild," Anat explains. "To unwind, I potter in my garden and am currently doing an enriching gardening course. I enjoy reading, have done yoga with the same instructor on a nearby moshav for 15 years and am learning Ayurveda.”
“The clothes I select are suitable for everyone. They are really what grab my attention and speak to me on a particular day. I buy a huge mix, which means that there is something for everyone.”
Anat has a positive outlook and says: “My advice to others who want to start their own business is to not give up during the hard times, which there certainly will be, and to keep the passion alive for what they do.”
“In another lifetime, I would have gone into some form of healing in a serious way. It’s a dream of mine to really care for people and make a difference. We do a bit of that through the shop," Anat points out. "People come in and confide in us or they just want a listening ear. It’s a wonderful feeling to dress people up beautifully and make them feel better about themselves.”
"I love getting up in the morning and just knowing that everything is okay. It’s incredibly rewarding to be part of the Jerusalem landscape. We have many loyal customers who have left the city and return especially to get their hair done, to go to the dentist and to shop at Shesh.”
iTravelJerusalem.com is a new online international travel portal offering all the latest information on things to do, places to eat and places to stay in Jerusalem.
iTravelJerusalem.com is a new online international travel portal offering all the latest information on things to do, places to eat and places to stay in Jerusalem.