Like many millennials, Gen Z zoomers and 20+, Shani Weiss turned to TikTok when the coronavirus sent everyone home.
By viewing one-minute videos on the social media app, supplemented by YouTube videos, Weiss, 29, learned how to run an online clothing business, while working as a senior partner at an investment firm. in Philadelphia.
With this self-taught knowledge, Weiss created Schlep and Schmoe, a clothing brand that blends Judaism and popular culture.
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Selling t-shirts and hoodies with catchy TikTok-inspired phrases and pop culture references, such as Im a Stan For Bubbies Brisket and Jew-wish, Schlep and Schmoe has gained traction among young Jews. .
But the Weiss clothing company was not created just for fun.
In May, after the most recent wave of violence in the Israel-Hamas conflict, Weiss sat down at her computer, ready to do her day job, but felt disconnected. Weiss did not work with many Jews and felt his work was no place to discuss politics. But when she looked at her phone during breaks, Israel was the only topic people seemed to post.
I felt like I really lived in two opposing worlds, Weiss said.
She wanted to take action and was no stranger to defending Israel, she had formed the Israeli activism group Dragons for Israel at Drexel University, where she studied finance and information systems. management, before obtaining his one-semester diploma in early December 2013.
Sensing that posting on social media was fleeting and divisive, Weiss pivoted.
I was thinking, what could I do that isn’t necessarily just reactionary action compared to what’s going on right now? said Weiss. Well, one way to do that is to instill a great sense of Jewish pride in the next generation.
Along with the wealth of knowledge she accumulated through TikTok, as well as her six-month stint at a start-up in Israel after college, Weiss created the Schlep and Schmoe website and hired a printing company. external to print shirts to order, so Weiss didn’t have to worry about keeping inventory.
She reached out to Jewish TikTok users to share information about the company, and Schlep and Schmoe gained attention after The Times of Israel published an article on the brand last month. The company has gained over 550 Instagram followers without spending a single dime on marketing.
Sales have been good, Weiss said, although sales aren’t everything for her.
It’s not something I do for money, Weiss said. It’s a way for me to give back to the Jewish community.
Growing up in the modern Orthodox community of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Weiss said she had always had a deep connection to her Judaism, but that she hadn’t always had the easiest time finding a space to express. his Jewish pride.
In Drexel, which has a relatively small Jewish community, the Jewish Federation estimates that 5% of schools, about 23,600 students, or about 1,200, are Jewish. Weiss got involved with Hillel and Chabad on campus.
All of these different experiences just allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for Judaism, build a really great community, and have a really positive relationship with Judaism and Israel, Weiss said. If I could give this back to just one other young Jew or Gen Z Jew, it would be a success for me.
Beyond just helping others wear their Jewish pride on their sleeves, or more specifically, on the front of their shirts, Weiss hopes to help financially support Jewish organizations, locally and beyond.
To this end, Schlep and Schmoe partner with two organizations: he donates 10% of sales to the Amit Emergency Relief Fund through Amit NewGen Philadelphia, a group of promising leaders in the world of Jewish philanthropy, and for an event for Just Cause Events, a New York-based organization that combines entertainment for young professionals with fundraising. Schlep and Schmoe donate two clothes to be pulled at the event, with the proceeds going to the One Israel Fund.
Weiss hopes that Schlep and Schmoe expand their offering to include towels and bags and also expand their reach in the community. Until then, she’s just excited to see people wearing Schlep and Schmoe shirts.
It was just a ton of fun, honestly, to see him there and see people reacting positively, Weiss said. And then seeing people wearing the shirts, it brings me so much joy.
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