The Rural We: Mimi Rosenblatt
Along with Marsha Weiner, Mimi Rosenblatt is the co-founder and co-manager of Catwalk, the Great Barrington resale boutique whose profits support the animals of Berkshire Humane Society. Founded in May of 2014, Catwalk now provides 10% of BHS’s budget. The shop has been so successful that BHS is running a clothing drive to stock a second, soon-to-open store in Lenox (on Church Street next door to Alta and Patisserie Lenox). Donations can be dropped off at the Berkshire Humane Society headquarters in Pittsfield, at the original Catwalk in Great Barrington, or during a two-day event at the new store on Nov. 11 and 12.
I was born in Texas City, Texas, near Galveston, but my father was from the Bronx, so we grew up with a New York dad who’d travel to get bagels and lox and other foods we couldn’t get in our small town. I ended up moving away and living in San Francisco for almost 20 years. It’s where I went to law school and started getting involved in nonprofits, PR, marketing and fundraising, and that culminated in my working at KQED, a PBS station. I got into dancing while I was in law school, as well, and became very serious about it during the aerobics craze of the ‘80s, along with Pilates and yoga.
I met my husband, Mark Lefenfeld, and moved to Austin to raise our two kids there. It was there that I got my first cat, and at one point we had five cats in the house. We lived there for 15 years, and a month after our youngest son went to college, in July of 2004, we decided we wanted an adventure.
My husband is from New York, as well as my father, so we had a lot of family there that we weren’t seeing much of, and both of our kids were going to Boston University. I’d always had a fantasy of living in New England. I’d worked at a camp in New Hampshire when I was younger and had always wanted to get back. We wanted to live in a small town in the mountains, somewhere beautiful.
We arrived in Great Barrington with three cats and somebody called and said Berkshire Humane Society was starting Purradise [a satellite adoption center specifically for cats]. I’d always loved animals but had never been formally involved with an animal organization. I currently have two cats. I adopted the very first cat from Purradise, Paulie, a Siamese. And then Roxanne, also a Siamese, came from Purradise, as well. They’re best friends.
I joined the advisory board and focused on fundraising, but I don’t enjoy asking people for money. I was thinking about what we could do that wasn’t throwing a party. I’d been shopping vintage and resale stores since I was 17, so we decided to do a pop-up boutique. We went all over the county and put it together very quickly, and made $10,000 that weekend. It was a two-day, extremely successful pop-up and we realized there was a need for high-quality, reasonably priced clothing.
I convinced two other women to help me open a full-time business. We made a leap of faith and just did it. Catwalk was founded in May of 2014. We opened on Memorial Day weekend, and we’re still going strong. It’s really taken a village of generous donors, dedicated volunteers, hard-working staff members and stylish shoppers.
We offer curated, new and gently used designer women’s clothing and accessories. The price points on the majority of items are $20 and under. Catwalk likes to provide a very personal shopping experience, and we’re happy to whip together an outfit for you. We’ll even go to people’s houses to help them purge their closets, because that can be very overwhelming for some people.
Catwalk filled a niche that we didn’t know existed. Right now we’re stocking our soon-to-be-opened Lenox store. All donations are gratefully accepted and are passed on if we can’t use them. We’re hoping Catwalk Lenox will have enough space to carry men’s clothing and possibly some housewares.
I’m also now working at a new nonprofit, Moving Arts Exchange, a dance company and school for all ages that opened last February next door to Catwalk. I’m teaching a cardio groove class, which is similar to Zumba. I’m going to be 69 and a lot of women give up exercising by that age, but staying in motion is the fountain of youth, and it’s important to stay active. You don’t need to have dance experience to take my class. We just have a good time, and it’s important to get more people moving and active, and not feeling intimidated walking into a dance studio.
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