More fashion for a cause? You betcha. After all, why “Livestrong” when you could “Get Sababa?”
Lance Armstrong’s yellow “Livestrong” bracelets to benefit his cancer foundation are already passé. But hoping to start a fashion craze of her own, 27-year-old Traci Szymanski has launched Get Sababa, a clothing line in progress, complete with the now-requisite rubber-band bracelets. (Hers are blue-and-white tie-dye.)
Szymanski, a DVD producer, never affiliated herself religiously until her work on a DVD for the Kabbalah Centre made her think twice. She’d been raised in an interfaith family — her father is Catholic and her mother is Jewish — and said she’d never had an interest in Israel either.
“Before I was like, ‘I’m not going to go to a war zone, but kabbalah provides tools for me that I feel protected,'” she said.
Those tools allowed her to feel safe on a trip to Israel she took two years ago, but more than that, she said, “Going to Israel, it changed my life, my whole world, my whole perspective. This passion came out after being in Israel and realizing the history of the Jewish people.”
“[Coming back from Israel,] I wanted to wear something with Hebrew writing on it and I couldn’t find anything aside from oversize shirts from Mr. T’s,” she said referring to touristy spot on Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehuda Street.
She also wanted to help the country she now felt tied to. She wanted to help her Jewish homeland, she said, and she also wanted something cool to show her Jewish pride. The solution seemed obvious. She decided to make her own shirts and then donate the profits to Israeli organizations like the Israel Defense Forces and Magen David Adom.
In seeking the perfect goodwill logo, the word “sababa,” which means “cool” in Arabic and Hebrew slang, seemed the perfect choice, showing Jewish and Israeli pride without alienating people.
“I wanted it to be something very mainstream,” Szymanski said. “I wanted it to be something that isn’t so serious or political or religious. Something just cool that any young person or anybody of any age thinks it’s cool to wear.”
Szymanski decided to partner with Oranim Educational Initiatives, an organization that works with Birthright Israel and other philanthropic funds to subsidize travel programs for young Jews. Together, they created Get Sababa, and thus a clothing line was born.
In one day they sold out the first round of some 500 T-shirts emblazoned with the word “sababa” in Hebrew and English at a Birthright event in Israel. The line has been selling steadily at Birthright and other Jewish events, as well as through the Web site, getsababa.com.
The shirts now come in a range of 12 colors and styles, from tanks to 3/4-length sleeves. The latest ones have moved on from simply “sababa,” to the addition of an English slogan below: “Are you sababa enough?” The wristbands read “GET SABABA” on one side, and sababa (in Hebrew) on the other side. Shirts range in price from $20 to $30 and wristbands are $5.
Szymanski has started slowly, but would like to promote the brand more extensively in the future. She was featured last week on Leeza Gibbons’ “Leeza at Night” radio show, although the L.A. airdate is as yet unknown.
Still, locals who are interested will be able to purchase them in person at Szymansky’s booths at the UCLA Israel Independence Day Festival on May 12 and the Israel Festival in Woodley Park on May 15.
Szymanski also plans to expand the brand into a full clothing line. Baseball caps are high up on the list, as are sweatsuits with the logo across the back. She even has her sights set on high-fashion items.
“I’d like to do a line where sababa can be on anything,” she said.