CROWN HEIGHTS — When sisters-in-law Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik first went into business together, they never imagined that some of their best customers would be in Malaysia.
But for women who strive to stand out within strict codes of modesty, MiMu Maxi's newest line of chic, extra-long skirts — initially tailored to the sartorial concerns of Hasidic Crown Heights — are injecting fresh energy into women's wardrobes around the world.
"People are surprised when they see the women here," Hecht said of her fashion-forward cohort in Crown Heights. "As much as women are covering their hair and keeping the guidelines of modesty, they want to be trendy and feel current."
The nascent company's five newest skirts — a hi-lo maxi, which is longer in the back; a leopard print shoe-skimmer, a knee length "midi" and two slim-fitting basics Notik calls "the skirt version of leggings" for their versatility with fall's slouchy sweaters — capture the current craze for maximum coverage.
"Instead of going basic, we decided let's design some funky stuff. One of the things we’re very proud of is that we keep our fans very involved," Hecht said. "We opened it up to the Facebook page."
In fact, all five styles were voted into existence by MiMu's Facebook fans.
"With our customers and our fans, we're selling them what we believe in," Notik said. "Sometimes we just go to the Garment District and see what inspires us."
That often means trekking with babies in tow.
"We've schlepped them all to the city," Hecht said. "Yakov and my youngest Dovi are at the age when they can interact, so when we’re in the fabric store we put their strollers facing each other and say, you guys talk."
The pair said MiMu Maxi was born in the hours they spent together with their infants this summer, discussing the never-ending struggle to find affordable, appropriate clothes that didn't feel nerdy or dour. Like their fans, they often found themselves desperate for anything that fit both the requirements — covering elbows, knees and collarbone — and their taste.
"We were wearing things that we love all the time, and we were playing around with the idea that we should just make what we want," Hecht said. "We both love vintage, changing things up."
Now, that idea has blossomed into dreams of a retail website and perhaps eventually a storefront.
"It's taken off even more than we imagined," Hecht said. "There's one [a skirt] for everyone."