| Family Diary |

Off the Rack: Chapter 12     

She unhinged her jewelry box and handed me my glistening Rolex. I put it back on, smiling


Rechama Jaffa with Musia Slavin

I opened my storefront on January 14. I closed it three months later, on March 18, 2020.

It was a state mandate, not a choice, but that didn’t make it any easier. When I pulled down the rolling metal gate, I didn’t know if I would ever reopen. How long would Covid last? Would my fledgling store survive? There was no way to know.

“It’s just my luck,” I vented to my parents. I opened a brand-new store and then — boom! — three months later the world descended into chaos.

Why did this have to happen just after I’d signed a lease?

But after a few weeks, I realized there was a blessing in it too. I had a place to escape to. Instead of spending all day, every day at home, I could safely trek to my store and organize my inventory.

I was grateful for my parents’ sake, too. They cared so much about me and my business. They’d been cheering me on since day one. During Covid, my racks stayed full. I swallowed the sight, but if my business had still been in my parents’ basement, I think it would have been too painful for them to see just how much my dream was floundering.

It got worse before it got better. The first week of lockdown, my team and I were still fulfilling online orders.

“You think Covid will end in time for Pesach?” I asked one of my sales girls.

“Our customers certainly believe it will,” she said, showing me the rows of orders on her computer screen.

Then the mandate dragged on. People stopped shopping. After Pesach, my father asked me how D-RAMA was doing.

“I don’t know if I’ll make payroll,” I admitted to him.

At the time, I had three sales girls — and a lease. Each time I ran the numbers, it seemed less and less likely that D-RAMA would survive the pandemic. Eventually, I let two of my sales girls go. I couldn’t afford to lose them, but I couldn’t afford to pay them either.

Six months in, I sat crying on the floor of my beautiful, empty shop. The racks were still filled with my designs — but I had few customers.

“People want fresh, updated pieces,” I explained to my parents.

What I had was two seasons old — so people weren’t buying it — and because people weren’t buying, I couldn’t afford a new line of production.

“Mommy and I can give you a loan,” my father offered. I immediately felt two things. One, frightened at the pressure of owing someone else money. Two, relieved and grateful to have such supportive parents.

I so desperately wanted to run D-RAMA on my own dollar — and until Covid, I had — but it was time to put my pride aside. I needed my parents’ help.

“You’re the best,” I said, still crying.

My mother looked at my father and then spoke. “We need something as collateral, Rechama. We know you — you’re a spender — and we need to know we’ll get our loan back.”

“What should I give you?” I asked.

“Something valuable that you’ll miss enough to want back,” my father suggested.

I thought about everything I owned and then looked down at my wrist. I unclasped my Rolex, the badge of honor I’d worked to buy myself, and handed it over to my parents.

Gently, my mother took it and laid it in her jewelry box.

“I’m only looking after it,” she said. “It’s yours again as soon as you’re ready.”


With my parents’ loan, I paid Ben to manufacture a new collection for D-RAMA. Baruch Hashem, as the world reopened, my store filled with the happy chatter of customers again. And six months later, I went to speak to my parents in their room.

It was a hectic morning in our home — the day of my younger sister’s wedding. Makeup artists were milling about. Dresses were hanging in the hallways. And I had a check for my parents in my hand.

“Here you go,” I said, handing it over.

“Oh, Rechama!” my mother smiled as she took it. “We’re so proud of you.”

She unhinged her jewelry box and handed me my glistening Rolex. I put it back on, smiling. The watch meant even more to me now — because for the second time, I’d worked hard to earn it.

to be continued...


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 771)

Oops! We could not locate your form.