Frum fashion can easily go one of two directions: formless and void of any style, or figure-gripping but hitting all the coverage points. Sisters-in-law Mimi Hecht, 30, and Mushky Notik, 27, wanted something different. Inspired to create oversize, effortless, and comfortable yet stylish pieces without a designer price tag, Hecht and Notik jumped into the fashion business. “Let’s take a slab of material and make sure it covers all the right places,” Hecht says of their first design days, before their launch in 2013. “We’re both busy moms. We don’t follow magazines; we don’t have major inspiration. We were just thinking, ‘what do we want to create?’” Before they could get bogged down in creating a business infrastructure, they put up a website with their first pieces for sale.
Mimu Maxi first took off in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where Hecht and Notik live as part of the Chabad community. But about two months later, they noticed that shoppers were coming to the site from around the world. And not just Jewish women, but anyone who wanted the loose, minimalist, full-coverage items they were creating. Today, their Instagram account (@mimumaxi) has 30,000 followers, and their brand has blown up as part of a modest fashion revolution. They’ve been highlighted in Vogue and Marie Claire.
Hecht (née Notik) grew up in Seattle, one of Mendel and Leah Notik’s seven children. Hecht’s brother is married to Mushky (née Hayes), who grew up in a Chabad emissary home in Ottawa. Both women credit their upbringings as influential. “I definitely feel like being from out of town has shaped my openness and appreciation for diversity,” Hecht says. After some Jewish followers expressed outrage when a Muslim blogger wearing Mimu Maxi appeared on their Instagram feed, Hecht and Notik dug in their clogs.
“Our families are very much about treating every human being with respect. This is not something that’s going to stick around just for the Jewish community,” Hecht says. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe was all about that. There’s always one thing that you can connect with, no matter how different they seem. If what we’re doing can be a uniting force, then we’re all about that.”
The experience became an opportunity for them to express their belief in connecting all women. Additionally, their role as Orthodox “momtrepreneurs” has allowed them to break through the stereotypes of oppression and repression they see cast on religious women — Jewish, Muslim, and beyond. “It kind of just fell into our laps,” Notik says. “We didn’t intend to change anyone’s perspective on what Orthodox women were like. It wasn’t part of our mission. We follow a lot of intuition, and we follow where our brand takes us.”