“Grab life by the matzah balls”
Unkosher Market’s line of Jewish T-shirts and Instagram musings are creating quite the buzz. In the last few weeks alone, they’ve been featured in The Jewish Week: New York, PopSugar, The Guardian, Times of Israel, and more. And they just launched three weeks ago!
With such catchy phrases like “shvitz it out” and clever Instagram puns such as “Monday. Not so tefillin’ it,” UnKosher Market is bringing Yiddish and Hebrew to a whole new hipster level.
I was thrilled to chat with Shiran Teitelbaum last week, one of the creators and founders of UnKosher Market.
What inspired you to design and sell T-shirts?
My creative partner Alice Blastorah and I were hosting a party for a friend’s conversion. We ended up calling the party Jewchella.
A half a dozen women in their 20s came over…and we surprised everyone with shirts. They were white with black typeface. Once our friends got the shirts, they posted them on Instagram. By then, everyone was asking where they could get them. We decided to test out new sayings and designs on Etsy. After a few dozen sales, we knew we were onto something. By then, my dad’s oldest friend Glenn Feldman (former CEO of Kitson) saw the shirts and thought we really had something. So the three of us partnered up and spent the year figuring out the fabric, the designs, and the sayings. We launched officially only a few weeks ago.
What has been the response so far? Who’s buying your shirts and where? I can see an entire generation of people who identify Jewish but also want a relevancy.
We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response. After the Guardian feature, a lot of people from the UK started buying the shirts. However, many emailed us to tell us that they would be reluctant to wear them in public because of the perceived Anti-Semitic climate in Europe right now. But they applauded what we we’re doing and we’re happy to support us.
Our customers seem to be everywhere—Toronto, New York, LA, Australia, Arizona, Texas…
These seem to be speaking to people who want to self-identify as culturally Jewish. However, we’ve had a number of Orthodox Jews wondering if we will sell shirts with sleeves. We’re actually looking into sweatshirts as well.
Where are you both from? I’d love to hear a bit about you.
I’m originally from Los Angeles but lived in Canada for ten years. My mother is Israeli, and my father is a Montrealer whose family is originally from the Ukraine. And we grew up in a Jewish-ish neighborhood in Los Angeles—Agoura Hills. Alice Blastorah, our lead art director and creative mastermind, is from Toronto originally. Our other partner, Glenn Feldman (former Kitson CEO), is from Montreal.
How do your families feel about your new venture?
Everyone is very excited. My parents are beaming with pride.
How do you come up with the sayings for your shirts?
My background is in writing. I’m a copywriter at a big advertising agency in Los Angeles. So I’m use to the writing process. I come up with the sayings and then bounce them off of friends to see if they stick.
Your Instagram posts are so clever. Does it take you a while to come up with these fabulous puns? What’s your process like?
It’s funny because in advertising puns are shunned, but it’s one of my fortes. I usually write a list of them and send them to Alice, and she decides which one she likes best. Then she’ll design the actual post.
Any plans to expand the line? Where can we currently buy the shirts?
Right now, just on Unkoshermarket.com, but we will keep you posted on any new ventures.
We’re starting our men’s line now and then hoping to expand to baby. Because who doesn’t want a briss gift with “Snip, Snip Hooray”?