Israeli Oregonians help artists back home sell work
By Deborah Moon
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Israelis Tamar Mullee and Sharon Elboim have been in the United States for 18 years and seven years, respectively, but the ties they feel to their homeland prompted them to launch a business that aids other Israelis.
“We are very connected to Israel—that’s never going to go away,” said Mullee. “We visit often and each visit brings new opportunities and a yearning to have an Israeli connection even though we are here. It keeps us close to home.”
So on Jan. 3, 2007, the duo launched Urban Attitude to sell jewelry and accessories from Israeli designers. Through their Web site (urban-attitude.net) and trade shows, the women sell four collections—largely wholesale, though retail orders are accepted online.
“There are a lot of jewelry designers in Israel,” said Mullee. “They all complain it is difficult to work there. It’s very limited and the economy is difficult so they are always looking for ways to explore marketing angles.”
New markets have definitely emerged for the four collections Urban Attitude represents. At their first trade show in Las Vegas, the women were invited to supply the celebrity jewelry gifts for the American Music Awards in November.
“I’ve always known we have something good in Israeli jewelry,” said Elboim. “It’s attitude, talent and culture … a blend of Mediterranean flair together with European chic. The common reaction we get at trade shows is it is so unique and different.”
The response the pair received at the first trade show was so positive, that they knew they were on to something.
“We got the green light,” said Elboim of the response in Las Vegas. “We got so many compliments and came back with so much enthusiasm. Since then we are just growing.”
The women spent Jan. 6-8, 2008, at the Accessory Trade Show in New York, where they were joined by one of the Israeli designers.
Both women attend the trade shows and work long hours setting up and staffing their booth. Both said the trade shows are a lot of work but well worth the effort.
“For 10 hours a day the booth is packed with people and you need to give them attention,” said Elboim. “The trade shows are successful not just in sales but also in terms of business connections,” said Mullee, who takes the lead in the business end of Urban Attitude.
Mullee, herself an artist and graduate of the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem, also has worked in project management and business management. She draws on that expertise to coordinate the business end of the company.
“Sharon does the talent-hunting, the Web site and photography (of jewelry),” said Mullee. “Sharon has a good eye for fashion things and the talent to pick and choose the right stuff.”
Currently Urban Attitude’s collections are marketed locally at Flutter on Mississippi Avenue, IMP in the Alberta neighborhood, Accessories for the Heart in Lake Oswego and Marystance in West Linn.
They plan to approach several Judaic shops in town about carrying the Judaic line of jewelry from each collection. Mullee said they have the Judaic jewelry in stock but have not yet added it to the Web site.