America at work
Reinventing Hanukkah: How One Small Business is Rethinking Jewish Gift Giving
Erica Szulc | December 11, 2017

Amy Kritzer’s entrepreneurial journey began with what she knew: Jewish Food. She started What Jew Wanna Eat, a food blog, in 2010 as a way to share her take on traditional Jewish recipes. She modernizes these recipes and often offers healthier alternatives and garnered a huge following. Last year she had the opportunity to come out with her own cookbook, “Sweet Noshings.”

That’s when she knew she was onto something. And it was just the beginning. She went on to buy ModernTribe, alongside her brother Andrew, a Jewish gift shop. Moved the store solely online, and is working feverishly to bring “modern design to Jewish lives.”

The website sells everything from custom dreidels, chic and industrial Menorahs, gourmet latkes to jewelry and an assortment of Bar and Bat Mitzvah Gifts.  And even a diamond-laden Yarmulke, billed the most expensive in the world. But the Hanukkah season makes up 40% of the company’s revenue, Kritzer told the New York Times.

This Holiday season FreeEnterprise.com had the chance to speak with Kritzer and learn more about her small business, and her desire to merge modern living with traditional Jewish culture, and how she’s breathed life into the holiday season.

Becoming the Boss
ModernTribe has existed since 2007, originally with both a brick and mortar and online store, and now carries its presence solely online. Amy and Andrew run their business out of San Francisco with three employees. They decided to acquire ModernTribe because “it was a perfect complement to my blog,” seeking to show Judaism in a cool and modern way. The store provided an opportunity to help people “have pride in being Jewish by offering products that they can show in their homes.” This first year has been challenging for her and Andrew with the competition from other online stores, but “it is very rewarding work.”

The Mission
ModernTribe wants to encourage the celebration of Judaism. They do this by creating and offering products that their customer is looking for and would be proud to show off. These products often have a modern twist on what you would find in a traditional synagogue, allowing people to “celebrate Judaism in a way that they are proud of and reflects who they are.” Many of these products are created by artists on Etsy and other small artists.

Keeping the Customer in Mind
When She acquired ModernTribe, she also acquired a new mailing list. Upon reviewing it, she noticed that the people shopping at the online store were very different from the people who visited her food blog. However, she also saw that “they are similar in the sense that they are both searching for products that allow them to be Jewish in a modern way.” Throughout the year, she has been able to put the two audiences together and getting positive feedback from each.

What’s Next?
“We want to focus on our customer service. It’s already very good, but it can always be improved.” To do this, they simply want to make their customers’ lives easier. One way of doing this is setting up a “Holiday Reminder” to help customers who opt-in remember when Jewish holidays are approaching as the dates change each year. ModernTribe is also starting to use Facebook Messenger as a way to communicate with their customers, and they will continue to add new products.