When you think of bikini designers, you probably don’t think of two Hasidic men. But that’s exactly who is designing the bikini swimsuit line Beach Gal. Both designers, 30-year-old Barry Glick and 34-year-old Saul Samet, work out of Boro Park, a prominently Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
It’s not just the designers that will surprise you either. The styles are also unprecedented–they contain detachable accessories like beads, seashells, and fringes. And you know, they don’t follow tznius, the modesty rules that Hasidic Jews are known to observe. Glick, a dad of three, told Racked in an interview:
“It isn’t a culture shock to me. I see it solely as a business opportunity and as a way to express my creativity.”
Before this venture, Glick was the owner of a store selling bekishes, the long coats worn by Hasidic men on Jewish holidays. So, what prompted him to go into the bikini business? Of all things, an ad for Pandora Jewelry–which designs customizable charm bracelets. He thought, why not make customizable bathing suits?
He described how members of his synagogue were confused at first:
“It was pretty hard in the beginning. I would shop the idea around and say, ‘I wanted to speak to you about a business idea,’ and everyone would say, ‘Okay, what is it?’ and I would say ‘Bikinis!’ and they would go, ‘Huh?!’”
Yet somehow, things worked themselves out after Glick partnered with Samet, who also lives near him in Boro Park; the two then partnered with designer Cynthia Riccardi to help with the designs. As of now, almost all of the 2,500 pieces from their first collection have sold.
What’s even cooler is the fact that Glick and Samet aren’t hiding their new venture from their community–Glick stated:
“I don’t look at it as a bad thing. It’s a piece of clothing and just because no one in our community [wears] it doesn’t mean we can’t bring something fun and funky to it.”