An Inspiring Mother- Daughter-in-Law Business Duo
Although mother-daughter relationships are often glorified in our minds, in reality, they are often complex and intricate. Naturally, every relationship between mother and daughter changes and develops over time.
With Mother’s Day approaching, we wanted to take our readers behind the scenes of a business run by a mother and daughter. That’s when we chanced upon a children’s boutique in Brooklyn run by a mother and daughter-in-law duo.
The business, which was established by Masha Gansburg almost 40 years ago in the heart of Crown Heights, quickly became a community favorite for children’s clothing. It was only natural that when her son got married, her new daughter-in-law Zeldy became an integral part of the business. Just a few months ago, Masha, a beloved mother and grandmother, passed away, and Zeldy and her husband were left to take over.
We spoke to Zeldy about the history of the business, working for family, and the truly unique relationship she had with her mother-in-law.
Can you describe what Young Timers Boutique is?
Young Timers Boutique (@youngtimersny) is a children's clothing boutique for newborn to teens, for both girls and boys. Our collection is curated from the best children's designer clothing from around the world. We are located in the heart of Crown Heights and have an online store run by my husband. We have a wide price range to serve our entire community. We pride ourselves on our customer service and provide personal attention to all our customers’ needs by helping them choose the perfect outfits for any occasion.
How long has the boutique been around, and how did it initially start?
My mother-in-law Masha established the business almost 40 years ago. She was born in Israel and grew up in Kfar Chabad; her parents were Russian Jews who immigrated to Israel sometime after the war and ended up farming and cooking for the local yeshiva. My mother-in-law moved to America in her late teenage years. After marrying my father-in-law at the age of 22 and having her first two children, she had difficulty finding baby clothing locally that suited her elegant sense of style, and thus Young Timers Boutique was founded.
Just think about it, a young girl coming from Israel with no experience in fashion, broken English, two kids at home, a working husband, still newly married, starting a business in a foreign country at the age of 24. This is the story of the American dream.
My father-in-law, a former contractor, who currently takes care of the bookkeeping and all office-related work, always likes to comment how my mother-in-law came from Israel, from a farm, but had "5th Avenue taste.”
For almost 40 years, my mother-in-law built up the business with lots of hard work through some tough times. She earned a reputation of honesty, love, and dedication to her customers and was well known in the community. The shopping experience at the store has always been personal and friendly. In fact, hardly anyone even knows the store by its name; everyone just calls it "Masha's": "I'm at Masha's, and she has the most stunning...", "I'm going to Masha's to get..." Even now, people still call it Masha's.
Sadly, my mother-in-law passed this January, the 7th of Tevet, after heroically battling a sickness for almost ten months, leaving us to continue her legacy.
What would you say the best thing is about working for a family business?
Flexibility; we are a real team. Everyone really cares about all the details, and we happily spend late nights together. It’s also a lot of fun at the end of the week or season reminiscing together about all the craziness and hard work with good memories.
What was your relationship like with your mother-in-law?
It was the talk of the town. When customers found out that I’m not a daughter but rather a daughter-in-law, they were shocked. She treated me like her own daughter. We got along really well and had a lot of fun doing business together for three years. She was always full of compliments and praised me to her friends and customers, making me feel really good about myself. We not only worked together in the store but also from home and spent a lot of late nights going to business appointments together.
What was the best piece of business advice your mother-in-law gave you?
Every sale counts and is important. Don't jump into things and be very careful not to overbuy. But most importantly; treat every customer like they're the best.
How does Young Timers impact the community most?
I would say our biggest impact is dressing the children of the community for Shabbos and Yom Tov and partaking in their Simchos. Every milestone is celebrated through our store, and we are so grateful we are part of happy memories.
What would you say is the best rule for a small business to follow?
As a small business, you need to provide something your customers won't necessarily get in the big stores, such as personal attention, exceptional customer service, a feeling of a community, and a unique, special product. You'll also need to fill a niche and keep your customer coming back to you.
What is something your mother-in-law implemented in her business that you want to always keep sight of?
Kindness and honesty. She always had a kind word, whether to her business acquaintances or customers. To the girls who had a hard time finding the right dress, she made sure they walked out the store feeling good about themselves. When dealing with her vendors, she would first compliment and then move on to the business talk. During shiva, more than one person related that they would sometimes come in just to get a "pick me up."
She was also sincere and never sold something that didn't fit properly or did not look right to her. She was more of a friend than a saleslady!
Having these traits in sight helps us stay grounded and sensitive even while maintaining our business mindset, because, don't get me wrong, she was the best sales lady and a real businesswoman.
What's one piece of advice you would give to other women working for a family business?
Each family business is unique and operates differently. One point I would like to share is that communication is key. If something is hurting you, you're just not in the mood, or if you need a little break, talk about it, and be open. Your family loves you and understands. If something is being done not the way you like it, speak up; you have a voice, use it! The only way to grow and survive in business is when everyone is happy! Including you and everyone else involved. So if putting in too many hours is affecting your children or your marriage, talk about it, and make arrangements that satisfy everyone's schedule! Your family only wants the best for you, so you might as well be open!
Whether you work together or live far apart, Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on and celebrate any of your mother-daughter relationships!