After her second child was born, a tiny seed of an idea was planted in the mind of 24-year-old Sacha Gorelik. One year later, it has bloomed into a new start-up, called The Sabra Patch.
Sacha made aliyah as a teenager with her family from London, ten years ago. While she did not have an easy time integrating into Israeli society, she pushed herself to finish her bagruyot (matriculation exams) and went on to attend Bar Ilan University, where she graduated with a degree in social sciences. She is also a trained masseuse and a gymnast, and has worked as a gymnastics coach in the past. Her eclectic interests and talents may be the reason why transitioning into the new and unfamiliar field of entrepreneurship did not deter her from pursuing her dream of creating an online marketplace for Israeli artists.
The Sabra Patch is a far cry from the typical fare of hamsas, Stars of David, and silver-plated religious paraphernalia that one might find when searching for Israeli art, or gifts from Israel. Of course there is a healthy dose of Judaica, but there is also wall art, baby gifts, sculptures, wallets, toys, purses, scarves—even mixer covers and tissue holders–all handmade by talented artists who live in Israel.
One of Sacha’s goals in creating The Sabra Patch was to expose the multicultural side of Israel. The sellers are from all different backgrounds, and many are olim. Sacha especially wanted to highlight the work of Ethiopian artists, and sought to partner with an organization called “Nashim Rokmot Chalom” which was created to aid integration and employment of the Ethiopian community by giving Ethiopian women a platform from which to sell their unique artwork.
There are now over forty sellers with items listed on The Sabra Patch, who enjoy direct exposure, as opposed to their work getting lost in a sea of thousands of sellers and millions of items to choose from, on a site like Etsy. The buyers benefit from the knowledge that everything listed is handmade and a product of Israel.
Sacha periodically picks sellers to highlight on the site’s blog, which gives readers a glimpse into life in Israel. Since launching in January, the site has had over eight thousand visitors. Right now, she is working on launching a Hebrew version of her site to make it more accessible for the Israeli market.
However, getting her idea off the ground was not an easy task. When asked what was the most difficult part of the process was for her, Sacha explained that before speaking to a web developer, she needed to recruit artists, so there would be actual products to post on her site. However, many artists were reluctant to join before there was an actual website. “It was a bit chicken-and-egg,” she quipped. Additionally, while stressing that her husband, a NJ native and content manager for a financial company in Tel Aviv, is extremely supportive of her endeavors, juggling the care of her two small boys in addition to building her start-up was no simple feat.
Despite the bumps in the road, Sacha has made it to the other side, with a beautiful website full of hundreds of unique items for sale, a testament to artistic talent and multiculturalism being alive and well in the Holy Land.
Check out http://thesabrapatch.com/ to discover the diversity and uniqueness of Israeli artists and their work.