A bit about Zippi before we begin
In have heard quite a bit about Zippi in the past because she is Limor’s best friend (see previous interview) and have also met her briefly a few times. The last time was when we bought an amazing table and bed for the children in the shop she was working at the time. What I knew about her beforehand, was that she is a real entrepreneur, and a very active and very interesting woman, which made me sure that her story could only contribute to this blog and its purposes as well as being a true inspiration to others. Zippi lives in Binyamina with her husband and their three children.
Zippi, first of all thank you for agreeing to share your story here and to be part of this series about people who “Do it Differently”. I think a lot of women can be inspired by your story, your knowledge and your experiences.
The last time we met was at the closing sale of the store you were working at – when we bought furniture for the children. You told me then that you were sick of selling things?
Look, I am naturally very thrifty. I like to go out and also to spend money on nice meals in restaurants, but to go to a shops and buy things, I do not enjoy that. Do not like malls. I grew up in England and lived there for a long time recently, and I have always preferred to go to thrift shops or to buy second hand on sites like eBay. So for me to work in a store, like I did for the last two years, and sell unique and beautiful things that nobody really needs – that was hard.
I went into this business because of the business partner, Tali, that I connected with on a personal level. The store was a small part of several projects we worked on together. The biggest project in that setting was “paying it forward” in which we taught women how to import things from India. As part of the workshop we traveled with the women’s groups to India and showed them how things work in practice … some of the women who went are today owners of their own businesses. This project continues until today and takes place twice a year – in February and October.
What did you do before that?
I left home very young, at the age of 15. I left home to go and study Hotel Management – a combination of practical work and studies. In the end it was mostly work – at the Dan Carmel in Haifa – because that was what I preferred. Over the years, the hotel became my second home really. I worked hard and progressed quite quickly. I was paying for everything on my own while in school. In that period, I also traveled several times to England and worked in various hotels.
When I joined the army at 18, I already had three years of professional experience. In the army I completed the officer program and was the last officer in the IDF without a high school diploma. After that, I traveled again. I was abroad for two and half years and worked in hotels all over the world. After I came back I started working in the field of event planning. It was at the height of the high-tech era so we earned a lot from those events. It was all very glamorous. And then I had the twins….
So I am guessing that you met your husband sometime during those years (laughing)?
The truth is that he is the son of my parent’s friends so I always knew him. I met him again when I returned from the last trip abroad and since then we have been together. I moved in with him after a week and we got married after 8 months. It was really fast!
When the twins were born I was home with them for a year. I enjoyed it but after that year I felt that I needed to get out of the house. We brought home an au-pair from the States (English was important to us) and went to work as an event planner at a venue not far from here. It was very convenient as I was usually at home with the children in the mornings, and in the evening my husband was at home.
13 years ago, when the twins were about two years old, I started an event planning business for families coming from the UK and that is what I do, on and off, until today, with other projects coming and going as well. I decided not to work for someone else as I realized that I can do it on my own. With my own business I choose which events I want to do, with which clients. I decide when I want to work and when I don’t.
Our economic situation obviously plays an important part. Today, because of our financial ability, the fact that I am frugal and that we know to how to manage, makes us able to get by on one salary. My husband works in high-tech, from home.
Our situation is as such that I do not have to work, but I always bring money home anyway. We are living off the paycheck he brings home and everything I earn is for extras. If we have extra, we do things, if we don’t, we don’t!
I see a lot of my girlfriends go out and buy stuff without thinking too much about it. I can sit for 3 days to look for a special deal that can save us a significant sum of money. I buy almost everything online. I like pass on things to others, such as children’s clothes, etc. and also to receive from others. I do all the grocery shopping at the supermarket and for the most, cook at home. I see the money that I save us, as part of my income. I know it is time consumed and have no illusion that someone working full-time could do the same. For me, I consider it part of my job.
Our children not missing anything. Maybe there are some things they want, but don’t get, but they know how it works for us. According to what we think makes sense, I budget a certain amount for something specific. If that is not enough for them, they can always work, save or sell something to add to that sum. I think it teaches them a lot. We always got along on our own without help from our parents. This is what I want to teach my children. They always have what they need, but if you want something more than that, they will have to contribute as well.
I grew up myself with similar principles and so I started to work at a relatively young age. For those luxuries exactly. I still remember the Dr. Martens boots that I bought with my own money!
Exactly! By the way, I also had those (laughs).
Other things you do regarding your (economic) situation?
Yes. We are constantly assessing the situation and staying updated. We are thinking ahead all the time and always making adjustments. It has become a part of me, really, to think before every step and make calculations. On the other hand, it gives us the ability to live the way that we do.
People wonder how we have money for all the things that we do. Outwardly, our behavior often looks very fun, very large, but on the inside I’m always very calculated. Always thinking ahead! It comes from being economical but also allows us to do the things that we love like vacations and going out. Most of our friends earn more than us but are constantly in debt and constantly marvel at the things we do. It is possible, when you think ahead.
I am not afraid of working and have during the years done all sorts of things. Somehow I always found a way to bring money home, from my business, from various projects, from garage sales or selling things for others. Often, it is the fact that It is hard for me to spend money but still want to be able to do all sorts of things that makes it an incentive to earn! It has never been because we need it as a family, it was always my own need to do so. It was never that if I don’t earn, we can’t put food on the table or pay the mortgage, absolutely not!
However, I try to do things that I enjoy! After the last project with Tali, I made the announced that I am taking a sabbatical to do fun stuff just for me! I still do all sorts of things, but in this period of time, I try not to commit to anything specific. There are always opportunities and new ideas going through my head. Actually, since I started this sabbatical I am busier than ever!
I try not to say “no” to anything to never close a door immediately. I always make a lot of things for others without expecting anything in return. You never know what can come out of something in the future. I always like to do things for others, even if there is no immediate revenue.
It is the importance of giving?
Yes, totally. I also volunteer at a shelter for battered women, helping them with fundraising. I think the secret is to do things all the time, even if there is no money to be earned from it. It is very important to give and with giving you always get something in return, even if it is not immediate. Somehow, the wheel keeps on turning. I always get something in return in some way and it is always a lot of fun!
I think that many Israelis live off what they don’t have instead off what they have. In England, for example, there is no such option. I think that with some effort it is possible to get rid of the overdraft and at least live on the zero line. Even without any background in economics, I know how to advise people to save a lot of money every month. But it is hard to change habits. Many people get caught in some sort of a vicious circle in which they live their life according to what they think it should look like. They work hard and for long hours, and then spend a lot of money on things because they have no time. Somehow, the easiest solution is to always to pay!
You can live comfortably and still save. We should not be ashamed to do our grocery shopping at the discount supermarket or buy at sales or that our child doesn’t wear brands, although sometimes there are good deals to get on those! The thing is to look for alternatives and be more creative – in everything; Food, work, income!
I could talk to you for hours! But as a conclusion, what would you say to people who want to do it differently?
You need to do things and not just dream about them. Don’t say to someone else that “I envy you that you are not working full-time” or “I envy you that you can spend more time with the kids.” I sometimes envy the full-time working women and the security and routine they have in that. But if I really want to do it like that, I would.
You have to do and you have to dare. You can always take a year off to try something else and if it does not work then go back to what you did before. No family or home is going to go under from being a year without one salary, not if that home is managed wisely. There is always something to save on, something to change and something to improve. There is always something to do, if you want to. So get up and do!!!
Zippi, thank you so much! For me this interview was a huge inspiration to hear your thoughts and the you do things. I personally learned a lot and I am sure that others will as well. So glad we got to do this!