It's almost impossible to imagine but Maya Reik, who dropped out of school six years ago at the age of 14 to study fashion, now boasts 20 full-time employees at the Jaffa Port headquarters of her brand, Marei 1998 – as well as branches in New York and Milan.
To date, the 20-year-old Israeli fashion designer has produced eight collections, all of which have been received with a mixture of excitement and amazement. The latest, the 2019 summer collection that hit the runway at New York Fashion Week – and was featured simultaneously at showings in Milan and Paris – signified Reik's unambiguous breakthrough into the realm of global fashion.
Reik, who grew up in Beit Yanai, in central Israel, and took courses at the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design and elsewhere, says she divides her life today between Tel Aviv, New York and Milan.
"So," she says, “if I needed to describe my status, I would say I live ‘between places.’” Her clothing line is manufactured in Italy and India, and she has financial support from her family. (Reik’s father, businessman Avi Reik, along with his brother, sold their Flying Cargo Group to international shipping giant DHL for $100 million in 2007.)
“I’m aware I’m lucky – that I can do what I do with the privilege that's been given to me, with substantial help. I do my best and I don’t feel a need to apologize for it,” Reik says. “I work hard, I provide jobs, I do good things and touch people.” Those workers, who toil around the clock for her in Jaffa? “Some are 20, 30 and even 40 years older than me," she says quietly, "but it still feels very natural for me to employ and manage people older than me.”