Sofia Bat Sarah is grateful that there has been such a positive reaction to her tichel sales, which only began in February/March of this year.
At just 17 years old and still a senior in high school, Sofia Bat Sarah has no plans for marriage in the immediate future, but you might still catch her on occasion wandering around wearing a tichel (head scarf). That’s because she wants to make sure that the tichels she’s creating are as comfortable as she’s promising her buyers.
It all began when Sofia saw some images of Judaic jewelry online. It tickled her crafty side, and she was instantly inspired.
“I love that kind of stuff,” Sofia said. “It’s so beautiful. I decided to try making my own.”
She began tinkering, creating and selling her handmade jewelry last year. She makes necklaces with the star of David or “hamsa” hand, Mizrachi-style earrings and bracelets, and much more.
“I have something for everyone, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, I even custom-design,” Sofia said.
Soon after she started selling her jewelry, she came across a TikTok account with a woman demonstrating how she styled her tichel. Adept at the sewing machine since she was a young girl, Sofia immediately decided to try creating a stylish tichel herself.
“I was shocked when I saw how much tichels cost!” Sofia said. “They usually run from $27-$30+! I decided to make them more affordable and available, with significantly cheaper shipping options.”
Sofia’s tichels cost between $5-$15. (And yes, that’s with up charging a little so she can still make a profit!)
She buys 3-4 yards of fabric at a time, cuts the fabric into squares or triangles, and then crimps or sews the edges. Each yard of fabric yields two tichels. Tichel-making takes Sofia about one to two hours while her jewelry takes her between 20 minutes and three hours, depending on the piece.
Sofia, who prefers to be known by her Hebrew name, grew up in Detroit, Hamtramck and Warren, knowing very little about her Jewish roots. A few years ago, she attended Menorah in the D and had a marvelous time. Soon after that, she joined Chabad in the D for Shabbat and was “instantly hooked.” When she attended Shofar in the Park in Royal Oak, it was the first time she had ever celebrated Rosh Hashanah.
“I’ve been exploring a lot recently,” Sofia shared. “And that was the start of it all. I love checking out other synagogues and have since moved to Oak Park to live closer to the Orthodox community.”
Her parents and two brothers are supportive, but according to Sofia, her family is also still getting used to these changes.
A Brush With Haters
Unfortunately, after posting her first few TikTok videos that explored different parts of Jewish culture and traditions, Sofia was “doxxed.” Neo-nazis found her full name, address and phone number online and began posting her details on numerous sites, inciting others to harass her virtually. Her phone was always “blowing up” with nasty messages. Some people even turned up at her house. Sofia called the police but was advised to “just block them” and told “we can’t do anything unless you’re physically harassed.”
After this scare, Sofia deleted all her social media accounts, except for her business, changed her phone number and became extremely private about sharing any information publicly. That’s also why she’s uncomfortable sharing her photo publicly.
Despite this extremely distressing episode, Sofia continues to create her Jewish-themed jewelry and her tichels. She is grateful that there has been such a positive reaction to her tichel sales, which only began in February/March of this year.