When Tali (Tal) Schwartz was in high school, she had no inkling that a career in fashion was her future. She loved math and science, and after graduating pursued a degree in nutrition while her husband studied in law school.
Tal discovered her talent for design during the summer of 2016 when her husband had an internship in Washington D.C. that required him to travel most of the week. With two small children at home, she needed a creative outlet. On a whim, Tal purchased a few reasonably priced headbands and beanies that she embellished with the help of a sewing kit and some craft supplies from a local store.
Soon, friends started noticing the eye-catching pieces she was wearing. When they learned that Tal made them herself, they asked if she could make something similar for them. “I created things that weren’t out there,” she said. “The goal was to make things that were unique, fun and different.” It wasn’t long before her hobby became a business, and Tal New York was born.
Tal New York sells headwear and accessories, including beanies, caps, headbands and scarves, online direct to consumers and wholesale to retail outlets nationally and internationally. In a big step for her brand, she opened her first brick and mortar store in East Rutherford’s American Dream Mall, not far from her current home in New Jersey. “I’m so happy to offer our clientele a location where they can see, feel and try on our products,” she said. There’s also a larger variety. “Our partner stores often carry only a partial selection. At American Dream, customers can see our full collection.”
Accessories have a starring role in making an outfit come together. A basic black or denim outfit is elevated by a colorful headband or cap. In cooler months dazzling beanies add warmth as well. New items like skinny scarves, that can be worn as a headband or scrunchy, add intrigue to an outfit. Married women who cover their hair like to wear pretty caps and headbands over their falls.
Tal oversees all designs. “It’s about combining creativity with current trends,” she said. “I do like embellishments, but now it’s more about fabric, fit and texture.” Bright and pastel colors are big now, and tie-dye is slowing down. She sees people gravitating to simple but elevated basics that are “super comfortable and super cute,” with something to make them stand out. The Tal line, with her signature script, fits that bill. Toile and floral prints are also doing well. She makes sure her products are the highest quality, even though it sometimes takes months from design to manufacture to get them just right. “I love to hear from people that they’re buying new products but still wearing my designs from prior seasons because it shows the staying power of our styles.”
Tal New York at American Dream was supposed to open, along with the rest of the mall’s retail section, in March of 2020 but the date was pushed to October 1 due to the pandemic. “I got so much positive feedback,” she said of her opening. “It was really unheard of for a frum store to open in a standard mall, and word spread fast. People were really excited. Our store has since inspired other local brands who had never thought about opening in a mainstream mall to consider the option as a way to grow their brand and clientele.”
Giving back to the community is an important value for Tal. On the Tal New York website and in the store, anyone making a purchase can click the “Team with Tal” button to donate $2.00 towards purchasing hats for cancer patients, and Tal will match it. She then donates hats directly to cancer patients by partnering with Chai Lifeline, Sharsheret and other organizations that help distribute them to patients in hospitals. Several patients who have benefitted from this initiative reached out to Tal to become sponsors for other patients. A counselor at Camp Simcha wrote to Tal to thank her and let her know that every time they give out her beanies, the children smile and say they finally feel like themselves.
“I am always thinking of ways to make the brand more meaningful,” she said. “It’s important to me that Tal New York has a purpose beyond business. It elevates what we do and really makes an impact on peoples’ lives.”
By Bracha Schwartz