Have you ever felt that old fashioned Judaica items or religious household products look out of place in a modern 21st century sunny South Florida home? If you answered “yes,” then you should meet the Apeloig sisters.
by Evan Berkowitz
The Venezuelan sisters Daniela and Gabriela Apeloig, with their very extensive backgrounds in design, marketing and fashion recently started an extremely successful business selling modern Judaica items. Raised in a conservative Jewish community in Caracas, they are very much aware that these types of items are often important parts of women’s lives. Typically they are classic looking, made from traditional materials and often handed down from generation to generation.
But the Apeloigs decided to marry tradition and modern ideals in their newly designed mezuzahs and challah boards.
The sister’s actual plan regarding Jewish home items really started when Daniela was getting her Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing at New York University. She had to present a formal business plan/thesis before graduating. “I developed an extensive plan that went from the marketing and branding to the financials, logistics and production. When I moved from New York to Miami in 2013, I decided to make the business plan a reality together with my sister Gabriela.” Her sister also had a business background and had been employed for many years in the food industry marketing sector.
Gabriela said they both decided to move to the Miami area because they missed family here and the Jewish community life. “It was the closest we could find in the United States to the life we had in Venezuela,” she said. The sisters use their maiden names, Apeloig, for their business to honor their grandfather Andres, a Holocaust survivor.
The sisters were able to put an interesting new twist on their Judaica by using non-traditional materials, specifically clear and colored acrylic. “We were looking for a mezuzah case that would go in context with modern, elegant and minimalistic homes. We feel our mezuzah case is different from any other out there because it looks like a piece of art that is also a ritual object,” said Gabriela. The acrylic actually allows you to see the holy scroll, which is the real purpose of the object. Also their unique design makes the mezuzah appear as though it is floating on the door frame for a very spiritual look and feel.
The mezuzahs, which are available in about 15 colors and 4 sizes, were originally test-marketed in the Aventura area where they were an enormous success. A line of customized Apeloig mezuzahs has been created for several major local Jewish institutions including, Scheck Hillel Community School Athletic Center, the David Posnack High School, the Chabad Lubavitch Aventura South, and Sha’arei Bina Academy for Girls, so be sure to look at the door posts of these places the next time you visit.
That success led them to design a challah board that also had the see through element of acrylic. “We spent more than a year in design to ensure the final board was perfect. But we think the painstaking design process was 100% worth it. We partnered with expert industrial designers and artisans to deliver a product of premium quality,” said Daniela.
They funded the challah board business by starting a very successful online campaign on the Kickstarter website, which is a crowdfunding platform that allows people from all over the world to invest in projects. While most Kickstarter campaigns are not fully funded during the lifetime of the campaign, the Apeloig sisters had great success, raising $15,000 in just nine hours! They ultimately raised over $35,000.
This well liked challah board will be available for sale in early 2017. “We are very happy for the results of the campaign, we have pre-sold approximately 200 boards and they are not even produced,” said Gabriela.
Features that set this challah board apart are a built-in dish for salt or honey, a magnetic knife specially designed for acrylic, ergonomic borders for easy gripping and a custom-designed box, ideal for both long-term storage and gift giving. The beautiful boards come in two different styles and ten different colors.
More Apeloig Collection Judaica products are likely on the way. “We are now working on a textile collection for challah covers to complement our challah board,” said Daniela. She said that in the future they may bring their unique creative vision to a menorah, a Passover plate, candle holders and wine cups.