Social Life Magazine | Luxury Publication for the Hamptons

Julia Haart: Breaking Free While Empowering the World


By Christine Montanti

Photography by Tiffany Walling McGarity



The magnitude of courage, understanding and talent that American fashion designer and entrepreneur Julia Haart possesses is completely unsurpassed. Known for starring in Netflix’s My Unorthodox Life, a reality series which centers on Haart after she fled her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and moved to NYC, the 5-foot powerhouse continues her transformative journey into modern society. With several innovative projects underway, this year marks the tenth-year anniversary that the mother-of-four was reborn into a new life of freedom. The fashion mogul is conquering career goals at an astounding rate. Within months of first leaving her Haredi community, Haart expeditiously launched a luxury shoe collection, and, only a few years later, secured positions as Creative Director of La Perla, and CEO of Elite World Group. More recently, the entrepreneur released her best-selling autobiography Brazen: My Unorthodox Journey from Long Sleeves to Lingerie and launched a luxurious shapewear collection +Body by Julia Haart. Currently, the pioneer proves to be more resourceful than ever as she gears up to unveil a new swimwear collection as well as her partnership with a ground-breaking dating app all while advocating on multiple global platforms for women’s civil rights and against anti-Semitism.



The day of the Netflix star’s interview is Friday, October 13th, almost one week after the horrific attack on Israel by Hamas. News of the atrocities that occurred on innocent victims is breaking all over the globe, and media outlets are encouraging the public to stay out of Manhattan because Hamas is calling for global demonstrations in support of the assaults. When I arrive at Haart’s Tribeca Penthouse, her demeanor is justifiably somber, “It’s really difficult to even find words for what’s happening. Every time I turn on the television or look at my phone it gives me tremendous anguish to see things that I genuinely can’t comprehend,” Haart explains.

It’s an extremely distressing time for the entire world, but especially troublesome for the entrepreneur whose youngest son Aron and ex-husband Yosef are currently both in Israel. They were there at the time of the massacres because the father and son were celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot while Aron is studying in Yeshiva; Aron has decided to remain in Israel to show solidarity with the Jewish people. Fortunately, Haart’s three other children Batsheva, Miriam and Shlomo were not in Israel at the time of the horrific acts of terrorism. Haart, a strong advocate against anti-Semitism, is planning to travel to The Promised Land soon to provide support on behalf of her Jewish heritage and community.  

The Russian-born entrepreneur is no stranger to activism. Earlier this year, Haart was at the front lines in Ukraine in an ambulance trying to assist freedom fighters while aggressively being shot at and attacked.  The American fashion designer reveals, “I have led, marched and spoken at a rally in Washington for Iranian women who have been brutalized, poisoned, beaten and imprisoned because they asked to be educated and to have the freedom not to be covered head to toe. I have walked through remote villages in Rwanda handing out menstrual cups to women.   I believe in global sisterhood, and I have spent all the strength I have to create this army of women who are united and working together to change the world to a better place.”  



Haart, a well-known and adored educator in her former Haredi community, taught English and Judaic studies at several Jewish schools in Atlanta, Georgia as well as Brooklyn and Monsey, New York.  The mentor is visibly shaken by the inherent hatred toward Jews and explains, “First it starts with religious anti-Semitism, then it transforms into economical anti-Semitism and the third version of anti-Semitism is political. I have always had such a difficult time understanding how, during the holocaust, normal people could walk their dogs, feed their children, tuck them in at night and go to work while other children were being brutalized and ovens next door to them were being fed human sacrifices.  How did they say nothing?  How could they dehumanize people to such a degree? How did normal, average people walking the streets remain silent?  I never understood it.  It’s not until today that I actually understand, and that is, hate always has an excuse. There is always a justification for hate, and that’s what is happening today.”  

Despite it being a terribly sad moment for the entire world, it happens to be a breathtaking picture-perfect day in Manhattan. We are seated on beautiful, white, art deco sofas in the living room of Haart’s modish, three floor Tribeca penthouse.  Adjacent to us, stunning floor to ceiling casement windows offer breathtaking waterfront views of the Hudson River. The sun is glistening on the water, and in the distance, there are several people paddle boarding.  Further to the left is Governors Island and the historic Statue of Liberty, the iconic symbol of freedom seems appropriately within our line of sight. As I continue to admire the scenic view, Haart begins to share her strong message in response to the Israeli massacre to the public: “Don’t’ stay silent! Do not be fooled, it is not Israelis. It is not the IDF killing innocent Palestinians. It is Hamas saying to their own people, “stay and be slaughtered.” Hamas doesn’t care about Palestinian people. Hamas uses children as human shields. Israel is actually telling innocent Palestinians to leave Gaza. The people who are living under Hamas’s rule, the women, children, and LBGTQIA, are suffering tremendously, and now, Hamas is telling its people to stay and be murdered, so they can use it as a weapon against Israel and the Jewish people. It is a wholesale slaughter of their own people! My message today is, if you are keeping silent, and if you celebrate brutality, cruelty and murder, your name will not be forgotten. One day in the history books, the people who supported murder, brutality, evil, and cruelty will not be able to hide in the shadows anymore. We will bring them out into the light.”

Haart’s passion for advocacy is a result of her own transformational journey based on years of restrictions and being subservient in her former Orthodox community.  In the entrepreneur’s bestselling memoir Brazen, Haart details her personal voyage, unrelenting desire for freedom and her creative spirit that led her to forge a new path.  Shortly after fleeing her fundamentalist community, the author obtained career aspirations at an unbelievable fast pace without any formal background in fashion.  Within months of leaving Monsey, New York, she unveiled a self-titled shoe collection and then only a few years later, became creative director of La Perla and then CEO of Elite World Group.   The mogul explains that the restrictions her community placed on her felt wrong. “I was constantly being told my purpose in life was to be silent, subservient, obedient and invisible. There was a constant dichotomy of who I was as a person. I am not a quiet person and I’m not shy. I am a ferocious reader and I’m not stupid. There was this constant war between who I was as a person and who I was supposed to be. They had convinced me that I was eternally flawed.”

The activist’s groundbreaking work in the fashion industry is not only about creating stylish garments, it’s a platform for empowerment and self-expression. Her cutting-edge designs and her commitment for inclusivity is reflected in her latest fashion endeavor +Body by Julia Haart. +Body promotes diversity and body positivity. The collection features fashion forward pieces, that women can wear either under their clothes, or simply as stylish clothing itself.  Sizing is combined of both dress size and bra cup size for a perfect fit for any body type.  The exclusive shapewear collection is crafted from luxurious breathable materials and each piece is designed to provide support without sacrificing comfort and made to fit women’s bodies like a glove; enhancing natural curves and offering a seamless foundation for any outfit. Haart uses a revolutionary technology that enforces the shapewear fit making it extra comfortable by incorporating stretch material fused with print and color so the fabric won’t distort or fade and is more durable.  As an extension of +Body collection, next season the fashion designer will be launching the first ever shapewear swimwear.  The revolutionary swimwear collection looks and feels like a bathing suit but is more flattering and has the appearance of a tankini. Aside from fashion, Haart is also partnering with the dating app Tawkify and will be revealing the details of her relationship with the matchmaking service very soon.



One of the most significant aspects of Haart’s journey is her commitment to empowering women. “What I tell people all the time is to embrace the unknown.  Don’t be afraid to be afraid.  The unknow is where everything happens.”  It took me 8 years to leave my fundamentalist community because I knew nothing about the outside world. I educated myself and I read every book that I got my hands on.  I watched television and made money under the table.  While everyone thought I was teaching, I was also selling life insurance.  I hid everything, I didn’t know a single human being on the outside world because I didn’t exist on the outside world. I didn’t have social media. I was a zero and I was scared. Although I planned to leave, I was so afraid, it felt like time travel.  It felt safer to die than to walk out of my community.”   

Although Haart was planning her exodus for many years she became increasingly depressed and suicidal because it felt almost impossible and frightening for her to leave without having any connections to the outside world.  Ultimately, it was Haart’s younger daughter Miriam that motivated and inspired the mother-of -four to flee her community after raising the same questions and concerns as her mother regarding the unfair treatment of women.

As we wrap our interview and gear up for My Unorthodox star’s photo shoot, Haart turns to me and asks, “When do we invent and create?  When we walk into the unknown.  If you know everything you have the answers to everything and you don’t ask any questions. If you think that everything has been done already then you don’t innovate, create and change. I understand that the unknown is scary but that is where everything of value is. Don’t be afraid of being uncomfortable. If you are doing something that is so easy for you that it is comfortable, you are not doing anything to build or change. Put one foot in front of the other even if your body is shaking and sweat is pouring out of every pore and embrace the unknown.  The unknown is beautiful!” 

Instagram:  @juliahaart


Executive Producer & Creative Director: Christine Montanti

Photography: Tiffany Walling McGarity

Videography: Mav Cinema

Hair Styling: Nikki Jaeger of Nubest Salon & Spa

A special thanks to the Haart family for their hospitality 

and our beautiful location in Tribeca