Small Business Week Profile: Deborah Muller
5 Questions with: Deborah Muller, Schmattees
1.) How did Schmattees come to be?
Schmattees came to be in a very funny way. I was getting my hair (yes, it’s naturally a Jewfro) blown out for an event. I had finished reading all my current event periodicals (which sound way more intellectual than People Magazine and US Weekly), and the only other magazine withing arms reach was Money Magazine. I sighed and reached for it. There was a fascinating article in about how a 32-year-old made $120,000 selling t-shirts online which was enough tto buy his first home. He also found a creatively fulfilling job where he set his own schedule and didn’t have to worry too much about overhead. The concept was print on demand — companies like Amazon and Zazzle handle the production and customer service while I deal with the creative design and marketing par. I have always had a love of comedy and strive to make people laugh. In fact, my husband says I usually act like everything is a stand-up gig. So the sense of humor part came easily to me. The sayings and mottos are easy because in my day job, I’m a publc relations consultant and I have to write and pitch story ideas in quick, engaging fashion. My usual uniform is a tshirt and jeans or when I really want to dress things up, a long sleeve tshirt and pants. I’m really the norm in a more casual, dress down work and life environment. Tshirts are everyone’s favorite item to throw on — for work, for sports, for brunch, for running errands. Therefore, the idea of combining Jewish pride and humor in a tshirt really spoke to me.
2.) How do you come up with the designs and sayings, and how often is your inventory updated?
I come up with my designs by just having lived as a Jewish person for 45 years. I grew up in a Reform Jewish family in Los Angeles, attended Sunday and Hebrew school, got bat mitzvahed in Israel and was an Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority member at UCLA (LML to all my Phi sisters out there). The only thing I didn’t do was attend Jewish sleep away camp at Ramah or Hesscramer, mostly because I secretly got homesick even at birthday sleepovers. I’ve probably attended over 100 bar mitzvahs, brises and Jewish weddings and know the lingo of what Jewish people think, say, speak, feel. I have a pretty good grasp of design and computer graphics, so the design of the shirts is no problem. Keeping inventory updated is no problem because Amazon prints on demand so I never have to worry about inventory because each order is printed as it comes in.
3.) What is your favorite Jewish food and why?
I grew up visiting my dad’s relatives and eating at Ratner’s, a famous Jewish kosher dairy restaurant on the Lower East Side — it was called Ratners. So I love Jewish food big time. Give me an onion bagel with cream cheese, capers, lox and onion and I’m a Happy Jewish Camper (which is one of my shirt designs by the way). Currently, my favorite Jewish food is Shakshukah because I love savory, and you can’t get much better than eggs and tomato.
4.) How do you participate in Jewish life in Phoenix?
I love the Jewish culture and work with and for Jewish arts organizations — so I really look forward to attending the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, the Desert Gathering Jewish Music Fest, exhibits at Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, and special events put on by the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix. One of the most amazing experiences that really connected me with my personal Judaism and the Jewish community at large was the interfaith memorial service at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. The feeling of being surrounded by so many Jews finding strength and solace in their community was overwhelming.
5.) What is your favorite t-shirt that you sell?
My favorite shirt? Hmmmm that’s like asking which of my kids is my favorite. I’d have to say Salty Like the Dead Sea is my favorite because so many different people can wear it (Jews, non-Jews, teens, adults) and it can mean slightly different things to each person. But I also love rocking my Jewish Geography Champ shirt. Who doesn’t try to figure out how they know someone else — it’s the Jewish version of Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Find out more about Deborah and Schmattees by following on social media! (BONUS: Free Shipping for Amazon Prime Members!)
Photos courtesy of Deborah Muller
This blog is part of the National Small Business Week series where we are highlighting local Jewish business owners.