By Chani Mizrahi
People often ask me what made me decide to start my own business. There’s actually no clear answer to that. You see, I didn’t exactly “decide” to start my own business; it kind of just… happened—and turned out to be absolutely perfect for my crazy military spouse life!
It all began while I was shopping for hair extensions to create my wedding hairdo. My husband and I planned our wedding by ourselves, so we were on a tight budget. I thought I’d save money by doing my own wedding hair (which, having grown up helping my mother with her wig business, I was quite qualified to do). Finding that hair extensions were pricier than I’d anticipated, I set out to find a cheaper way to obtain them. I eventually took a risk and ordered some cheap ones from overseas, which thankfully turned out to be very nice quality, and looked great under my bridal veil.
Fast forward to after my wedding: having been so excited to start covering my hair upon marriage, as is the age-old custom of Jewish women, I was surprised and dismayed to find I was really struggling with this particular mitzvah. At the same time, now that I was on the email list of the factory I’d purchased my hair extensions from, my email account was getting inundated with advertisements for their main export—wigs! Seeing a potential opportunity, I asked around my community to see if there was any interest. The response was positive, so I ordered a few and they quickly sold. Then I purchased beautiful headscarves that looked exactly like the expensive ones in stores directly from the manufacturers at a fraction of the price. They sold out fast.
Later, when we moved to a much more visibly Jewish neighborhood, I set up shop in a large room conveniently located at the front of our new home and put up flyers. Next thing I knew, I was working full time, running my own business, and carrying a large and interesting variety of great products. Now I’m the proud owner of Mazette Wigs and Ladies Boutique, which, interestingly, seems to be the only wig company that gives military discounts!
My business is very conducive to military life because I can set my own hours and bring work anywhere; when we go off on a drill weekend, TDY, or military conference, I simply don’t schedule any customer appointments at those times, and close my shop—though I can still take mail orders from anywhere. On the other hand, military life is also very conducive to running my business, because it has given me opportunities to travel to places and reach customers that no other sheitel (Yiddish for “wig”) business has ever been.
It is an understatement to say that military spouses must constantly adapt. Things are always hanging, are uncertain and unexpectedly complicated. We often find ourselves without resources we expected to have and possibly relied upon. Because of this we learn to get creative, think outside the box, find interesting solutions, and adjust our expectations as we continue to adapt, readapt, and readapt again. I feel it is exactly this mindset that has been the driving force behind Mazette Wigs, and within only a few years, transformed my business from a little side gig out of my guest room closet into an actual international business that ships an incredible variety of products all over the world!
Essentially, I’ve only done what all military spouses are called to do: I’ve adapted, taken advantage of small opportunities where I’ve found them, and made the best of things. With G-d’s help, I have been successful. Furthermore, what used to be a very difficult mitzvah for me has turned out to be a very joyful one, and I’m constantly thrilled by my opportunities to share that, making it easier, more enjoyable, and more affordable for so many others too!