Thursday, February 09, 2012

Lucky me! I recently got to meet yet another fabulous woman, Sara Shulevitz, an attorney and major fashionista who also has her own TV show. I was email introduced to Sara by a friend (thanks Gnesha) after another friend (thanks Chavi) told me about her, and we hit it off right away. My first impression of her was so positive and inspiring. She's bright, enthusiastic, fun, fabulous and generous, and I'm thrilled to have been able to interview her and share her outlook here with you!

Being the best woman you can be is my ultimate message here on this blog, and Sara totally represents this type of woman. She seems to have found the exact balance that I'm always talking about and aiming for.

Everyone, meet Sara!

"I am so unbelievably excited to be featured in your blog! Your blog is inspirational as are you! Your readers and followers are so lucky and the Legal Fashionista and the creator of Fashion-isha must unite! Special thanks to Gnesha for introducing us!"

Fashion-isha:  Tell us a little about your background: Where did you grow up? What type of family to did you grow up in? 

Sara: I grew up in a loving orthodox Jewish home.  I was lucky because I grew up in Manhattan's Upper West Side where my parents still live.  Growing up in an urban environment which is also a center of fashion impacted me a lot.  I attended Beis Yackov of the Lower East Side and Bruers High Schools.  My schools focused a lot on modesty/ tznius, but even though I was raised quite sheltered, as a young girl I was exposed to fashion just from living in Manhattan and always seeing women dressed in cutting edge styles. I was always fascinated by trends.  I wanted to be the 'material girl' I heard Madonna sing about because in the city the song was in the streets. But I wanted to do it in a modest way.  I loved bling as a little girl and wanted to grow up to be someone who embraced fashion and trends, as living in Manhattan the air resonated with it. And I wanted to combine the modest values and Torah values that were so instilled in me by my amazing parents and my family and tradition.

F.  Being an attorney is not the most common career for an Orthodox Jewish woman. When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer? What was your motivation? Did you find any opposition to this idea from your family or friends?

S. I went to law school at University of Miami and did my last year of law school at Fordham law in New York City.  My parents always wanted me to be a lawyer and another brother of mine is a tax lawyer (not as exciting as criminal law though).  Laws were always central in the house, a Jewish law was the guideline of how I was raised. Talmud was always learned between my father and brothers and I developed a legal mind at a young age, along with a sharp memory of Jewish prayers, blessings and torch teachings and quotes from the great rabbis/sages.  My mother would take me and my brothers to court when we were young children to watch proceedings and my mother told us it was her dream to be a lawyer and she would love if we would pursue this career.  I remember seeing a female attorney who was so elegant and well-dressed in a sharp suit with a feminine blouse under and gorgeous high heels and thought I want to be her when I grow up.  

The only opposition I encountered were from some jealous women and what I've learned is this:  DO NOT listen to people who block your dreams or who put you down.  If you forge forward with your dreams, aim for the stars, daven to Hashem (pray to G-d), and try to make a kidush Hashem (a good impression) in all you do, you can accomplish anything.

Also being a product of descendants from the holocaust, I have a strong will to survive, compete and win. It gives me strength knowing I am  literally rising from the ashes of the concentration camps.  

F.  One of the reasons why you are so compelling is because you find the balance between being a spiritual woman, a fashionista AND an intellect with a serious career. When did you first get into fashion? Did you ever consider a career in that field?

S. I had a love and passion for fashion and used to sketch high fashion women and gorgeous clothes, I yearned to be a designer, but I was told by my parents that many artists starve or have a hard time making a living, and they encouraged me to be a lawyer.

I served as a Miami prosecutor straight out of law school and after a few years I switched sides with the government to be a public defender. I later went into private criminal defense and opened my own law firm a few years ago. I have been practicing criminal law for close to 10 years and am still young.  I started young and Hashem (G-d) was with me every step of the way.  I deal with super serious issues daily and my cases take a toll on me.  Fashion is a diversion and fun for me so I lighten up the courtroom with stilettos or ankle boots with conservative suits. Miami is a bit more laid back than New York.  We all want Hashem to judge us favorably and to have angels in our favor speaking and advocating on our behalf.  Criminal defense has taught me how to be compassionate and try to help people.  A lot of defendants have tragic lives, mental health issues or drug addictions and I try to help them. The greatest feeling is when Hashem gives me the ability to help someone change and get out of their bad paths. In life, each of us at different times or situations needs guidance, a kind voice, compassion and of course, as a former prosecutor there needs to be good people on both sides.

F.  What would you say is the hardest part of being a religious, fashionable and professional woman? What would you say are the best parts?

S. For me the hardest part is being misunderstood. Because of my crazy lifestyle, between court,  the TV show and my religious upbringing, my life makes law and order seem's a lot to handle. A lot of people don’t understand me and judge me and sometimes I feel stuck between two worlds.  The best part is being a part of the Jewish community which is warm and deeply connected. The middos (good deeds) and hospitality is amazing, and at the same time, there is a closeness despite all the differences.  

F.  You now have your own TV show The Legal Fashionista! That's is so awesome! Can you tell us how that came about? What is your goal for your show?

S. I always joked around that my life is like a TV show having one has always been a dream of mine.  Hashem sent me this amazing opportunity and I want to make the most of it..  I received the Young Leadership Award last year for the South Florida Chai Lifeline and I want to continue doing charity work and chesed (acts of kindness).  The show gives me a great platform for that and a chance for me to give back to the community and the world.

F.  Who are some of your favorite designers and what are some of your favorite stores to shop in? What's your fashion philosophy? How would you describe your personal style? (For example: Do you only wear designer clothing, a mix of high and low, or do you like getting the best value for your money while still finding the most fashionable pieces?)

S. I love Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Pucci, however I shop mostly at Zara, Bebe, BCBG, and Benetton,  especially for my work clothes.  I also love H&M and Forever 21. I'm really a simple girl who was raised with the values of a simple life. Also, coming from grandparents who were holocaust survivors (my father was born in a DP camp right after the holocaust, and had a simple upbringing as a refugee) and as the the child of survivors, I was raised to be modest and not to be wasteful nor spoiled, and to appreciate having clothing.  Luxury items are not necessities but they sure are fun.  I love accessorizing with scarves, necklaces, chokers, bracelets, belts and amazing shoes that can make a simple outfit out of this world!

F.  Now for some personal stuff...

   Are you a night or morning person?

By nature I’m not a morning person.  I'm more of a night owl, however because my work requires me to be prompt in court, I am well dressed by 8:30 every morning and am forced to be a morning person.

What's your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

During the week I rarely get to eat breakfast because it’s a mad rush to court, but on Shabbos (Sabbath), my favorite breakfast is..chulent;) My father used to wake up early to daven (pray) so I am used to chulent in the early morning.  There's nothing like it... it sure beats cereal;)

Name three things you can't live without.

Three things I can't live without: a siddur or tehilim book (prayer book), black eyeliners, and pink or peach lipgloss.

  If you could only pack three articles of clothing what would they be?

They would be a Kiki Riki tee shirt,  a black skirt, and a denim skirt.

Who do you admire or view as a role model and why?

My role model is my mother who is a true aishes chayil (woman of valor), full of chesed (kindness) and true emunah (faith) who taught me a lot about balance and living in regular society as a religious Jew.

If you could purchase one dream fashion item for free what would it be?

My wardrobe is already out of control, but it would probably be a Prada coat and Prada boots, and some amazing Christian Louboutin shoes, and why not throw in some of the Manolo Blaniks that Sarah Jessica Parker would wear!

Thank you Sara!!

Isn't she amazing? Follow Sara on Twitter by clicking HERE and like her Legal Fashionista Facebook page for all her TV show information by clicking HERE!

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  1. great interview, she seems like a very accomplished well rounded women

  2. sara used to live in miami many years ago. her fasion style has certainly evolved since then. she is truly a ny girl. kudos to her for all her accomplishments. she is a wonderful person with great middos. truly the right person to interview!

  3. What an exciting and interesting woman! Love her style and intelligence!


    Art by Karena

  4. Brilliant interview, Sharon. I loved reading about her and will be on the lookout to catch some of her programs. Lovely to showcase another accomplished woman. xx's

  5. Thanks for the awesome interview! It's always great to read about such inspiring women!

  6. How cool is she.... very interesting. I love that she said don't listen to people who block your dreams and I LOVE that her Mom is her role model. xo

  7. Sharon, I read your blog periodically and I love it! What a surprise when I checked in this morning and found my fabulous sister in law featured. I love Sara!! She is awesome, brilliant, and truly beautiful inside and out, a real baalat chesed! She is really an inspiration to us all and always so positive. Keep up all the good work ladies!

  8. Ah, what an enjoyable read. She's quite a Lady and how wonderful that you got to interview her. xx

  9. great interview..enjoyed learning about her!!!
    Sounds like a great connection for you BOTH.
    Happy Thursday.

  10. Wonderful interview! Love the inspirations on your blog.

  11. Another inspiring blog Sharon! So interesting to read all about her. Great values and successful too. Wonderful!

  12. HELLO THERE! Thank you so much for visiting me yesterday and I ADMIRE A WOMAN who can be a professional and also PLAY!!! What a gal! And you too, so pretty and I BELIEVE IN PRETTY at any age!!!! HAVE A GREAT FRIDAY! Anita

  13. Wow...Love her sense of fashion and that she accomplishes so much in her life...nice interview and pics.