Local entrepreneurs Deena Buechler Bernstein and her husband Henry Bernstein are at it again. The Teaneck residents, who started their own business of making custom challah boards quite accidently…literally, are now Facebook group admins.
When a challah board wedding present fell and broke, they went shopping for a replacement but nothing met their approval. That was when they decided to craft their own board, which led to a thriving part-time business for Henry, a biomedical engineer by day and graphic “Deesignz-er” by night, and Deena, a chocolatier by day and artist by night.
Fast forward to an economic downturn due to the lockdown from the coronavirus and the two came up with another idea. This time they figured out how to do free advertising and bring along a community of friends who could spread the word.
On Thursday evening, July 16, they launched a Facebook group, Jewish Small Businesses, which took off like wildfire. Inviting their friends and family to join, they encouraged each person to invite 10 others to the group. By Shabbat, fewer than 24 hours later, they were up to nearly 350 members. The numbers have been climbing steadily ever since.
Having started their sideline making challah boards crafted of wood, painted with acrylics and coated with resin, they quickly went on to purchasing professional-grade equipment and expanded their business to include other Judaica artwork. Deena said, “Everything we make is custom so our customers choose the color scheme and text for everything. We do wedding logos, family names, monograms and more. Each piece is one of a kind and no two designs will ever be identical.”
Their signature piece is what they call the kiddush tray. The Bernsteins enjoy entertaining for Shabbat and they created the functional piece to hold shot glasses to be passed around the table. “It’s not only beautiful,” remarked Deena, “but functional because people can pass it around without spilling. The glasses have different brachot on them—one says ahavah (love), hatzlacha (luck), parnasa (success) and so forth, so when you pass out the glasses you are also passing around brachot to your guests.”
Henry said, “Deena and I work approximately three to five hours a day, which entails painting, resin-ing, designing the graphics on the computer, posting to and responding to social media.
He confided, “Deena and I have the skills to create each piece from start to finish alone. However, it’s something we love doing together so we actually work side by side every day while singing and dancing to our favorite music and we help each other out throughout the process.”
“Even though I prefer to do most of the graphic design work and Deena handles all the social media, we do the painting and resin-ing of each piece together,” Henry added.
Asked about changes in business since March, he admitted, “The pandemic has definitely affected our business. Most of our orders are wedding gifts and since many Jewish weddings have been postponed or have been in backyards with only immediate family, there are a lot fewer people buying wedding gifts. Since our business slowed down, we figured other people are probably in the same position.”
That was when he and his wife decided to create the “Jewish Small Businesses” page on Facebook. Their goal was “to connect with other business owners and help spread brand awareness.” Do you need information on pastries, original children’s clothing, lactation specialists or organizers? Find those and more at Jewish Small Businesses. There are Jewish small businesses of all types waiting to connect with you.
Whether you would like to help a Jewish small business prosper in these harrowing times or if you are eager to promote your Jewish small business, to shop or to advertise, log onto Jewish Small Businesses on Facebook. Find Deena and Henry on Instagram @deesignzbydandh.
A personal thank you from Deena and Henry says: “Thank you all for joining our group. Check out our store and make sure to use the coupon code: JEWISHSMALLBUSINESS at checkout for 5% OFF. We make handmade custom epoxy resin challah boards, Judaica, artwork and more. Each piece is one of a kind and we’d love to make something for you~