As if finding the right clothing to fit your style, body type and budget isn’t hard enough, finding clothes that also fit standards of modesty is a hurdle for as many as 15 million women in the United States alone, says Nava Brief-Fried. A self-described “modern Orthodox Jew,” Brief-Friend started the online marketplace ModLi almost three years ago, when she was just 24 years old, to help women with this problem. We caught up with her to talk about the business.
How does your Jewish faith play into why you started ModLi?
Being Jewish, there are many values I grew up with, and one of them is modesty. When I found it was hard for me to find fashionable clothes that were modest, I decided to change that.
Why did you decide to go the marketplace route, versus creating a more traditional online store?
We wanted to create a large collection of modest fashion, because that doesn’t exist anywhere. If you go to one store, the modest fashion options are very minimal. By aggregating hundreds of designers, we’re giving people one place to find them all.
What do your customers request most often?
[They request] maternity and plus-sized clothes, so we are increasing the number of designers we have who sell those.
What has surprised you since launching ModLi?
We were getting all these sales in Utah, and we were asking, ‘What Jewish community is in Utah?’ And then we found out it’s Mormon women. So we actually flew out there to spend time with bloggers and Instagram users, meeting with these women to understand their outlook on modesty. We’ve discovered we have so many different types of customers from different religions. Even though our everyday lives are different, we have the same values incorporated into them. This means we’re looking for the same types of fashion options.
Can you tell me about your marketing efforts?
We do a lot of online marketing and utilize social media by advertising on Facebook and working with influencers. We also partner with different organizations and nonprofits, and we’re always seeking new ways to reach people organically. We’re only reaching about one percent of our audience, but we know they all live in communities, and they all have a place of worship, so we want to get into those through events and [meet them where they are].