SUMMER 2019 The Summer of Torah, Hesed, and Charity

Past Articles:
ONE ON ONE WITH SHELLY ANTEBI

By: Ellen Geller Kamaras



“Hands down, my family is my #1 priority.  I also love business; work comes naturally to me.  You can’t be successful if you don’t love what you do. Like an artist who doesn’t like her creations, she won’t be able to sell them.”

I am thrilled to introduce you to Shelly Antebi, a savvy and vibrant businesswoman from our community.  Shelly is the owner of a women’s clothing store, “Shelly Antebi” with branches in Oakhurst, NJ and Brooklyn. Shelly is also a partner in Shelly and Renee Sample Sales Production in Manhattan.

After hearing Shelly’s life story, I couldn’t wait to share her life lessons with you.   Events and individuals in Shelly’s childhood forged her into the strong woman she is today.

A Little History

Shelly, born to Florence Bibi, A”H, of Syrian descent, and Philip Deutsch, A”H, an Ashkenazi Jew, grew up on Ocean Parkway near Avenue N.  Her maternal grandparents, Esther and Rubin Bibi, were pillars of the community, and Reuben was one of the founders of Ahi Ezer Yeshiva.  Shelly is the youngest of four children and has two brothers, Randi and Jeffrey Deutsch, and a sister, Cheche Adjmi.  Shelly was only four years old when her father passed away. Her mother was 36. 

“My dad’s death molded and shaped me.  Our lives totally changed when he died.  Overnight, my mom became the breadwinner. Her parents were a great help, and my mother ensured that we had absolutely everything.  She was the strongest influence in my life.”

Shelly’s Uncle Jack opened a jewelry business and hired Shelly’s mom.  Florence put forth all her efforts to support her brother.  She modeled a very strong work ethic for her children and taught them the value of hard work.  Shelly has a close relationship with all her siblings, and she respects them deeply.

Shelly attended P.S. 226 grade school, Boody Junior High, and Midwood High School.  It’s no surprise that Shelly chose Midwood’s co-op program.  This curriculum gave Shelly her first taste of the business world, allowing her to go to school one week and work the following week.  Her internship was at Morano’s, a jewelry store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, where her sister was employed.  The owner, Joey Morano, A”H, taught Shelly everything about the business, from cleaning the vault and selling the products, to understanding the customers.  “He taught me how to get into the client’s brain, treat them respectfully, and how to make them our customer forever.”  Mr. Morano was most definitely her strongest mentor after her mother. Shelly loved her job at Morano’s and quit school in 10th grade to work full time.

Shelly’s Character Traits

What is Shelly’s essence?  The one word I would choose to define her is strength.  Shelly describes herself as strong, determined, friendly, loyal, and social.  These attributes were clearly evident as I listened to Shelly’s description of her passage from child and teenager to wife, mother, entrepreneur, mother-in-law, grandmother, and community member. 

I would also add resilient, energetic, creative, and a quick thinker.

I was also struck by Shelly’s wealth of energy.  She shared that her ADD was a gift from Hashem, providing her with lots of energy and the ability to multi-task.

Marriage and Family

Shelly met her husband, Albert Antebi in the local community and was married at 20.  Albert was born in Syria, and escaped at 17. He spent a few years in Israel before emigrating to the U.S.  Nine years Shelly’s senior, Albert was already an established wholesale shoe importer when their paths crossed.  The couple lived on West Street in Brooklyn and they started their family right away.  They have five sons, three beautiful daughters-in-law, and four precious granddaughters.

When Shelly was pregnant with her third son, the purchase of a Brooklyn house fell through and the family stayed in their summer home in Deal.  The couple realized they had many good friends in Deal, and decided to remain there and raise their children in the growing and loving community.  Their sons attended Hillel Yeshiva from grade school through high school. The Antebi’s continue to be dedicated supporters of the school and the community.

“I feel so fortunate to be part of our community; there is no community like ours and there is an organization to meet every need!”

Shelly the Entrepreneur

Albert was proud to support his family and did not expect Shelly to be a working mom.  Shelly was 23 when her first business opportunity presented itself. 

Shelly was sitting with her kids in her closest friend’s living room when her friend remarked that she would love to re-do her basement.  Shelly noticed that women’s clothing was strewn all over.  Her friend’s husband had closed a store and the remaining stock was what Shelly spotted. 

“I told my friend, ‘I could sell these clothes! Please give them to me.’” And guess what?  Shelly sold 90% of those clothes for $9,000, and her friend had the money to re-do her entire basement. And that was the beginning of Shelly’s entrepreneurial career!

Shelly continued to take on similar projects. Someone asked, “Do you want to sell men’s suits?”  Shelly accepted various products and close-outs, not just clothing, and she earned a nice profit.  She even helped her sister sell 300 dresses for a respectable gain when a contractor botched her order and gave her dresses in lieu of onesies.

“I took merchandise on consignment and was always honest.  You have one thing to worry about and that’s your reputation. You leave with that.”

Maintaining a Work-Family Balance

Putting her family first, Shelly only worked when her husband traveled.  One day, Albert arrived home and told Shelly that a friend on the train had mentioned a beautiful dress that he had bought from Shelly.  Shelly’s secret was out!  Her key to success is keeping a proper balance, and she is an expert on maintaining boundaries and keeping her family as her top priority.  She promised Albert that her business would not conflict with their family life.

“I never allowed work to interfere with my family. It wasn’t an option.  If I had to close the store to run to a school event or even for a month, that was fine.  I wasn’t performing brain surgery.  My sales are gifts from Hashem and I show my appreciation by giving a portion to tzedaka.”

Contributing to Shelly’s success was her knowledge of how to create a business plan and crunch the numbers.  She mentors aspiring entrepreneurs.  “I am street smart! I can walk into a store, check out the inventory and within five minutes say what they need to do to break even.”

Shelly opened her first women’s closing store, “Shelly Antebi” 20 years ago in Allenhurst, NJ and it was a huge success!  Her specialties include outerwear and outfits for brides (such as clothing for engagement parties and sheva brachot).  Shelly then partnered with Renee Hanan to launch Shelly and Renee Sample Sales Production in Manhattan.  They run 25 sample sales a year, showcasing different top designers.  Six years ago, Shelly followed with a “Shelly Antebi” store on Avenue U in Brooklyn, open September through June.

Shelly’s Brand and Passions

Shelly feels exhilarated when she gets in a nice collection, puts it out, and it sells quickly.  She is passionate about dressing brides and making them feel beautiful. “When a bride walks out of the dressing room and smiles, I want to cry.”

Shelly provides excellent care to her clients.  The customer is always right!  She doesn’t consider it work since she loves business.

“In a way, my businesses are still mom and pop stores.  I give my customers a lot of personal attention, and call them when something comes in that I know they will love. I order one of each piece. People like to be unique.”

Shelly recognizes that it is critical to be surrounded by staff who have your back and to know how to delegate and hire people with the necessary expertise and skill sets.

She is also on fire about entertaining.  She attributes her love and flair for hosting huge dinners to her wise and sensitive mother.

“My mom taught me to take a 30-minute nap and chill out before guests come for Shabbat, and to look beautifully made up and relaxed.  She said that my guests would feel uncomfortable and not enjoy the meal if I looked tired and stressed.”

Shelly’s Positive Outlook

Around seven years ago Shelly recalls a transformational erev Shabbat conversation with her mother.  She wondered if Florence was angry at Hashem for being widowed at such a young age and being a single mom.  Her mother’s response changed Shelly’s life view.  Florence, who had lost her eyesight at that point, replied, “I see my life as perfect. Hashem gave me a great life.” 

Shelly realized that her mother saw her glass as half full. Shelly committed to adopting her mom’s life perspective, including treating everyone with respect, regardless of financial or professional status.

Shelly and Albert now live in Manhattan and move to Deal for the summer. 

What does Shelly do to unwind?

She loves to exercise, walk in Central Park, spend time with her grandchildren, and go out to dinner with friends and family.

And for her, business is a form of relaxation.

For future entrepreneurs, Shelly advises to persevere and have a business plan.  “Figure out your numbers, what you can make in one day, and your expenses, and let Hashem do the rest.”

You can contact Shelly via email at: shellyantebi@aol.com.

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.   Ellen works part-time as an entitlement specialist at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).