Babies, Business and Religion

The Orthodox Jewish moms behind Mimulo invite us over for some morning musings.

Mimulo founders Chani Frankel and Freidel Levin

*We’ve partnered with Zahler’s to help you find a little you-time in your mama morning juggle.

There’s nothing easy about getting up and out the door when you’re 8 months pregnant. Now imagine you’re not only 8 months pregnant, but also tasked with getting 3 kids out the door to school, prepping for your sabbath dinner, and opening your hip Brooklyn flower shop for the steady stream of customers already waiting at the gates.

It’s all part of the Friday morning juggle for Freidel Levin, a young Orthodox Jewish mom of soon-to-be 4, who co-owns Crown Heights floral favorite Mimulo with longtime friend (and fellow Orthodox mom of 4) Chani Frankel.

It’s a juggle that both women have been working on for more than 10 years, as they’ve watched their shop go from a young upstart to a floral and event planning destination. “Our shop has been held up to countless skeptics who said that a religious, orthodox young woman who is a mother and wife couldn’t create a successful business,” says Freidel. But, “we’ve learned how to manage our time, balance our roles and prove to ourselves that we can do it all.”

Of course, in the midst of all of that, it’s not always easy to find a few seconds a day to take care of mama and baby on the way. So we’ve partnered with Zahler’s to show how fitting a healthy Prenatal + DHA vitamin into your routine is easier than you think…especially when it goes down smoothly, and has everything you need in a single serving.

Cool Orthodox jewish momkids eating breakfast

Here’s Freidel’s Friday morning musings.

What’s a typical morning like in your household?
Right now, mornings have a very relaxed atmosphere. The kids are old enough to manage themselves. My older children bus to school and can walk if needed and my youngest gets a ride to school with a dear friend down the block. They are all aware of their timeframes to get out of the house and can really get themselves out with a minimum of my input.

How has your pregnancy experience changed now that you’re on the 4th time around?
The fourth time around has been a wonderful experience. I am generally laid back about pregnancy, but this time seemed like it was taking it easy on me a bit. My kids were thrilled to have noodles and cheese for 5 months while I vomited, so that was a win!

Woman cooking shabbat dinnerZahlers prenatal vitamins

How do you find time to take care of yourself during the day, especially while pregnant?
That is not something I am great at, but I try to put on mascara every day, eat regularly and never go to sleep without a shower. Vitamins are something I try to incorporate into my daily routine. I have been iron-deficient in the past and this pregnancy blood test showed a strong Vitamin D deficiency, so aside from sunbathing, vitamins it is!

The Zahlers prenatal is the first prenatal I have had that didn’t come right back up. In all previous pregnancies I was not able to keep them down as they were so nauseating. I am really impressed with the thought they put into making this a palatable and pleasant experience.

What’s Friday like in your shop?
Fridays are traditionally a busy day for a flower shop in an Orthodox neighborhood, but we also have orders coming in every day for delivery all around New York City. Our clients come looking for our aesthetic and touch at their events. It’s been humbling and thrilling to be invited to be a part of their momentous occasions.

Older child kissing mom's pregnant belly

setting up the flower shop

What’s it like being a mom business owner in the Orthodox community?
Being a business owner in the orthodox community presents its own challenges and benefits.
We are blessed to have Shabbos, a built in day off each week that is respected across the community so we get to recharge and reconnect to family and friends. We also have the added opportunity to host each week so when people come into the shop on Friday the most common question we get is, when do you cook? When do you do it? We’ve learned how to manage our time, balance our roles and prove to ourselves that we can do it all!

In the years since we’ve opened, we’ve seen an unbelievable explosion of young women entrepreneurs in our neighborhood and it has been so beautiful to watch! Our shop has been held up to countless skeptics who said that a religious, orthodox young woman who is a mother and wife couldn’t create a successful business as proof on the contrary and we are so proud!

Mimulo in Crown HeightsWoman with bouquet of flowers

What inspired you to open Mimulo?
We started Mimulo on Mother’s Day 2007. I had been working for someone else’s startup, and I was inspired by it and I couldn’t see why I couldn’t do that for myself. I was pregnant with my first child at the time. Mimulo style is about taking what is and elevating it. There’s nothing better than coming into a home or a wedding hall and NOT changing the whole thing, but focusing on the good and making it better. Our mantra/motto is to express the client while infusing it with Mimulo magic. It is distinctive in that it may go unnoticed but it is infinitely better. There’s a quote I read that sums it up: ‘When it’s done well they can’t tell you did anything.’

Tell me about your relationship with your business partner, Chani.
Chani and I have been friends since we were in the youngest bunk in Camp Emunah (sleepover camp). We were always great as friends, but working together has brought us closer in many ways and I am always grateful to have her a partner. She is always up for a good time and the hardest worker I know.

How does she inspire you as a mother and entrepreneur?
As a mom, Chani has a way of letting go that I admire. She doesn’t coddle her kids and expects them to figure things out on their own. Her children are extremely independent and self sufficient. She is also attuned and attentive to their growth, and has a way of knowing how to give them the opportunities they can use to thrive. I am challenged to face my more protective tendencies and to remember that my kids are their own people who need to fall to learn.

In our business, she pushes me to focus on what we know is right for our business or client. I push her to think about issues we encounter from other perspectives so we can accomplish whatever we can on all fronts.

Flower ArrangingMimulo

Tell me about your mama network and how it pushes, inspires and helps you to grow?
I am part of a group of friends who have all spearheaded businesses in different areas (e.g. fashion, restaurant, bookkeeping to name a few). It is great to have a place to bounce ideas, share tips, give and get real opinions and advice.

Some are more attuned to our craziness and push us to embrace it, for which we are grateful. And some are the critical audience we need to keep us grounded. We know at the bottom of it, all we are rooting for is the others’ success and that is the motivation behind us all. It is also very good to have friends who understand the pressure we put ourselves under and know how to get us to step out of it and enjoy life!

How do you balance having 3 children (almost 4!), running your household and also being a business owner?
Balance is a constant challenge. I have certain things set up so that I can manage (housekeeper, schedules, carpool) and I have a wonderful husband who is truly committed to making our life work. It is not always easy as my business is very seasonal so there are very hectic times and everyone has to step in or step up to help everything continue to flow.

Original photography by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded.

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Jessica Pallay

Jessica Pallay

JESSICA PALLAY is Co-Founder and Editor of Well Rounded NY. She is a Brooklyn mama to Libby and Elsie, and writes about all things pregnancy and new motherhood.

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