Ros Bakst, Creator of Bakst to Black, Modern Religious Woman, Advocate of Facing Your Fears, and Loving Mother
When I discovered Ros in our Facebook Group, I knew she was cooking up some new fashion designs for the modest dresser, and I was interested (as a fellow modern Jewish woman) to learn more about her venture. Ros lives in Israel which is both a blessing and a challenge as you know. But, even more so, any woman who starts her own fashion company, has faced and overcome hurdles bearing children, and remains steadfastly optimistic about the future, is someone we should all get to know better! So, here is her fascinating personal story…
Let’s begin by having you tell us a little about yourself.
I am married, with three children, living in Israel. My daughter just got married about a month ago.
My twin boys are serving in the Israeli army. All kids do army service of some kind. They have to, by law, do two years and 8 months. Both my boys are in fighting units. Proud, but obviously nervous living in a country that often there is, sad to say, fighting and issues.
I also have my precious dog, Nella, who is like my baby.
What’s the quirkiest, most interesting thing about you?
I am a modern, religious Jewish woman with my own ideas of what I like to see women dressed like, and how I dress!
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I went to a non-Jewish school, even though my parents were religious. I learnt about all religions and was even “Mary” in the nativity play! I know all the Christmas carols by heart and my best job was decorating the school Christmas tree every year. [laughter]
What are some of the issues that you have faced that may have affected your confidence, and how did you overcome those issues?
I married young and could not have children straight away due to lots of issues. I ended up having IVF for all my kids after many miscarriages, etc. I think I learnt to always find out what you are facing and try to learn from the experience. Learning is the best way to overcome issues that you face in life. Never hide your fears. Talk about them. I spoke out to Jewish women who were scared of not being able to have children and gave them my experiences. In the religious world you hear about the women who have children, but fail to hear about the ones that don’t. Not enough is done to raise awareness about this, and it’s good to talk. I now see changes are happening, but it has taken 29 years of being married to realize that we can change society, however slowly.
How would you describe your personal style?
Due to being religious, we must abide by modesty and so our sleeves, lengths of skirts should be modern and modest at the same time. I don’t always follow the rules but my new brand of dresses can do that. Bakst to Black was created with this in mind. People can change a dress to match what they want to see. Sometimes if a skirt is too short, a religious Jewish woman will put another skirt underneath. To me, this is not something that should be happening in our day and age. Underskirts and extra under sleeves are messy and tacky. My brand is interpreting what I want to wear — a dress that is the right length, sleeve, collar, made just for me. Exclusive and expensive, but worth every dollar spent! You get exactly what you want, hand made for you.
What is your favorite style trick or tip?
I downloaded an app for a colour wheel — my strongest ally! Whenever I am out and see something I would like to buy, I hold back until I am sure it will match something [in my closet] colour wise, etc. I almost always have something in my cupboard I can match it to!
I also carry pictures of my accessories, scarves and jewelry, so I don’t spend extra money needlessly. I cover my hair with headscarves so I do have a matching scarf for all my clothes, ha ha! [laughter]
What’s coming up for you and your company — what is your new launch news?
So, having done a year or more research, we are now launching our custom made dresses. We have eight dresses in the brand and our website will show the first four.
All my dresses are black. I love black as a colour, and always have, and always will. Bakst is my surname and when I was bigger I would always turn to black thinking it was because I was big. However, after my gastric sleeve, I realized I still loved black. Now, I do love colour, yet I always turn to black as my solid base. Hence the name of my company, Bakst to Black.
The dresses are hand made by the fashion designer I teamed up with. She had her own European brand and her own shop in Belgium before returning to Israel and she understands the need for quality and elegance.
How and why did you start Bakst to Black?
Fashion was always in my blood, so to speak. I took a year to study fashion, personal shopping and wardrobe consultancy. I started designing dresses and decided to have them digitally made up. I thought about how modern professional women want to stop having to wear layers – you know? Long sleeves under shorter sleeves, longer skirts under shorter skirts – that kind of thing. We want one great dress! No layers!
I started to look into dresses. European and US-style, classy, elegant dresses. I got an idea of what women wanted to see. Women wanted elegant black dresses with modest sleeves, in a length that was just right for them. They wanted the modern feel combined with clean lines. Women want “plus” sizes. Women who are breastfeeding also want to be able to wear a dress.
What are some of the challenges of setting up a fashion brand from scratch?
Packaging has been very challenging and still in the working out stages. We want something that reflects the elegance and quality of our dresses. Having worked hours on this, I’m still not happy. We’ll keep going until we find the perfect packaging to complete our look when shipping to our future customers. I have sample boxes, bags, stickers, ribbons and so far nothing matches the quality I want from this.
What lessons have you learned about life and happiness? What would you tell women to do right now, today, to get started making changes?
To make changes you have to love yourself first. Learn what you love, what you want, and what makes you happy. I always take time for myself even though I work hard until all hours of the day and night. I know that sometimes you need to refresh and refocus.
We still have so much room to grow and learn new things. Go for it! I would never have believed I was opening a brand at my age! You will make errors. This is life! But enjoy every second, as you only get one chance to live life to the fullest!
What is the best way for members to connect with you?
Because my website is still under construction, you can connect with me on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/baksttoblack/
You can also email me your thought about what dresses you would like to see, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share an inspirational quote or very brief story to leave us with.
While the brand has taken me a long time to put it together, and sometimes it has been very frustrating and nerve wracking, I have often said, “I can’t do this,” but I am always reminded of a quote by Helen Keller:
“We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough!”