A riveting, inspiring memoir of one woman’s escape from an extremist religious sect and an extraordinary rise from housewife to shoe designer, to CEO and co-owner of the modeling agency Elite World Group
Ever since she was a child, every aspect of Julia Haart’s life—what she wore, what she ate, what she thought—was controlled by the dictates of ultra-orthodox Judaism. At nineteen, after a lifetime spent caring for her seven younger siblings, she was married off to a man she barely knew. For the next twenty-three years, he would rule her life. Eventually, when Julia’s youngest daughter Miriam started to question why she wasn’t allowed to sing, run, or ride a bike, Julia reached a breaking point. She knew that if she didn’t find a way to leave, her daughters would be forced into the same unending servitude that had imprisoned her.
So Julia created a double life. When no one was looking, she’d sneak looks at fashion magazines and sketch designs for the clothes she dreamed about wearing in the world beyond her orthodox suburb. In the ultra-orthodox world, clothing has one purpose: to cover the body, head to toe. Giving any thought to one’s appearance beyond that is considered sinful, an affront to God. She started clandestinely selling life insurance to save her “freedom” money. At the age of forty-two, she finally mustered the courage to flee the fundamentalist life that was strangling her soul.
Within a week of her escape, Julia started a shoe brand, and within nine months she was at Paris for fashion week. A year later, she became creative director of La Perla, the world-leading lingerie brand. And now, she is the co-owner and CEO of Elite World Group, and one of the most powerful people in the fashion industry.
Propulsive and unforgettable, Julia’s story is the journey from a world of “no” to a world of “yes,” and an inspiration for women everywhere to find their freedom, their purpose, and their voice.