‘From the Gegent’ is a series of articles featuring businesses, services and the people behind them in the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. Presented by Mica Soffer, owner and publisher of community news service COLlive.com and neighborhood directory gegent.com:
Photos: Shmuel Amit
Mushky Rosenfeld, who founded the Mod Shop clothing store in Crown Heights, first realized she loved fashion as a young girl growing up in a small town in Ottawa, Canada.
Her passion for fashion and clothing goes deeper than just enjoying beauty, since learning to enjoy getting dressed up and looking good helped save her from a life-threatening eating disorder, she says.
“One of the things that helped to me get better was learning to love the way I look in my clothes,” she says. “If I didn’t learn that, I would never learn to feel comfortable about myself. I believe that making yourself feel beautiful really helps you to feel better about yourself.”
After battling and then overcoming her disorder, as a teen she learned to use dressing creatively as a way to make herself feel good about the way she looked. She credits a childhood friend for teaching her about enjoying getting dressed up and boosting her confidence.
“She would lend me her clothes, and showed me how to dress, and I started to appreciate fashion and the way it made me feel,” Rosenfeld said.
Fashion wasn’t Rosenfeld’s first entrepreneurial endeavor. She first opened a preschool in Crown Heights to support her family while her husband was in school.
Despite the preschool quickly growing, Rosenfeld felt she wanted to pursue her real passion in fashion. She began with selling clothing from her home, and as her business began to take off, she rented a space on Kingston Avenue over Kettle and Cord.
The Mod Shop store opened this past summer, offering affordable and trendy fashion for women. While the initial plan was for the space to function as a showroom, there was a demand for an actual store to shop for clothing.
“I wasn’t sure there was room for another store in Crown Heights,” she says. But the more her customer base grew, the more she realized, “people want to shop for affordable, trendy, tzinus clothing, which is so hard to find. And they don’t have to leave the neighborhood for it.”
As a proud Chabad woman, Rosenfeld says: “I really believe that tznius fashion should be affordable and accessible. I provide reasonable pricing on all my items, and this way I can help so many women look good and feel great about themselves, all within the framework of tznius.”
“I feel like since more frum women are taking leadership roles, at home and at work, it’s becoming more common for women to dress more trendy, and wear different things. The beauty of a leader is that they stand out. I want to encourage more woman to try something new, and not be afraid to be themselves.”
The clothing she offers are on-trend, but not too over-the-top fashionable, she explains. “In Crown Heights, the regular everyday woman doesn’t want to stand out too much. They don’t want to make a statement, they want to look good while fitting in.”
Mod Shop does not currently design a clothing line. “What I really enjoy is offering a large variety of trendy clothing which appeals to all types,” she says. Mod Shop carries up to size 10-12 to cater to more sizes and body types.
Price points are low for stores catering to frum clientele, she points out. Examples are exercise skirts for $25, with other skirts going up to $40, shirts range from $25 – $35, with a few at $40. Dresses range from $35 to $50. She also carries some designer fashions for Yom Tov at reasonable prices.
The store has a flexible 2-week return policy on unworn items and a website that ships orders all over the United States and Canada, offering the same items as in the store for the convenience of those living out of New York.
Customers range in age from 13-year-old teens all the way up to 70, she says. “Today a lot of the young girls are wearing the same things as their mothers,” she laughs. “It wasn’t like this when I was growing up.”
Sunday afternoons tend to be the shop’s busiest time of the week with girls coming in after school and checking out the variety. “My customers are comfortable just checking if there’s anything new, and they know that I’m fine with them coming by even if they don’t buy anything,” she says.
She does notice how girls will come into the shop with their mothers and refuse to try on any clothing. “I can tell it’s because she is self-conscious about her body,” she says. “I can usually talk to the girl and show her how beautiful she will look in the dress. I can relate because I’ve been there and I remember that struggle so well.”
“It makes me so happy, seeing how happy they are when they do try it on, and they see how great they look, and they feel so good about themselves. it’s very rewarding,” she says.
The mother of 2 children says she has always been a working mom. “It’s important for my daughter to see that I am a working mom, and I want her to see that it’s ok for me to be more than just a mom,” she says.
“Obviously, motherhood is my main role, but women are capable of doing so much,” she says. “I try to do it all myself, even not having cleaning help, because I want to be an example to my daughter. I do have an employee working here in the afternoons so that I can be home and available to my children in the afternoons. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”
390 Kingston Ave, FL 2