When Shira Jacobson made aliyah to Jerusalem three years ago, she was looking for Jewish artwork with a modern twist that she could hang in her new home. Not finding anything that spoke to her, she decided to create her own.
“I closed my eyes and imagined artwork that I wished to wake up and see every morning,” Jacobson, 24, said in an email interview. “I envisioned designs that would empower me to pursue my Jewish lifestyle through true joy and meaning.”
A self-taught graphic designer, the Laguna Beach native then came up with 15 posters that she used to decorate her home. When she had guests over, they would ask for copies. “After the hundredth guest asked for a copy of my art, I made an online store and started selling my work to the masses,” she said.
That online store is called Kosher Swag, and it sells kitschy shirts, aprons and art for men, women and babies to customers worldwide. The clothing is adorned with phrases like, “Sugar Tatty,” “Wake Up. Kick Tuchass. Repeat,” and “Coffee First Schmooze Later.” The artwork features Hebrew words, animals and a matzo ball soaking in soup with the word “Ballin’ ” above it.
Jacobson runs the business full time and has nearly 4,000 Facebook followers and 12,000 Instagram followers. She’s also held pop-up shops in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Monsey, N.Y. “I definitely see Kosher Swag maintaining a global presence,” she said. “There are many remarkable countries around the world [that] order Kosher Swag, from New Zealand to South America. The way I see it is, if enough people want to see a pop-up shop happen in their community, I will be happy to make it possible.”
The young entrepreneur comes from a family of self-starters. Her father, Howard Jacobson, told the Journal in an email from Israel that the family owned a high-tech glass business for 35 years. He said he’s sure that his daughter will be successful with her venture. “I believe that HaShem has a great sense of humor. Shira is merely emphasizing this with Kosher Swag.”
Devora Ebriani saw her friend’s daughter wearing a shirt that said, “I Love My Sugar Tatty,” and the girl’s father wearing the “Sugar Tatty” shirt. “I thought it was so cute, and after seeing Shira’s collection, I had to get some of that Kosher Swag,” she told the Journal. “Her art pieces are so beautiful and her T-shirts take a modern twist to Jewish humor. I love it.”
“I believe that HaShem has a great sense of humor. Shira is merely emphasizing this with Kosher Swag.” — Howard Jacobson
When Jacobson is not working on Kosher Swag, she posts funny videos of herself talking to the camera on her Instagram page, @theshirashow.
“My comedy page began a while back when my friend was hospitalized,” she said. “I would make her funny videos every so often and she swore that she felt better from the laughter [that] ensued from watching the videos I sent her. After she was completely healed, I decided to post the videos on Instagram in hopes that they would make others laugh and heal from illness or just good ol’ heartache.”
Jacobson is also a religious person, and she prays at the Kotel as often as possible. She decided to move to the Holy Land after attending her sister’s wedding in Israel and falling in love with the country. “I am in Israel because it is the place where I feel like my best, most happiest self,” she said.
As for her future, Jacobson said she wants to find “a cool mensch to marry and have a couple cute kids.” Her professional goals, she hopes, will lead to her “pursuing my art and comedy in a way that will inspire others to be proud of their Jewish culture and connect to Judaism in a refreshingly joyful way.”