READ INVESTOPEDIA’S SPECIAL REPORT on starting a business in New York City, filled with stories of Brooklyn business startups. You’ll see why Brooklyn and Queens are magnets for innovation and small-batch production as well as get important leads to New York City services that can untangle regulations and smooth your way. (Full disclosure: The Investopedia story is brought to you by founding folks at Brooklyn Artisan.)
SMALL, MEDIUM, AND LARGE: Otherwise, it’s hard to categorize the ingenious designs of Brooklyn makers at The Factory Floor in Industry City in the recent two-weekend show. But starting small, Brooklyn Artisan will do our best, for the record.
Small batch, small scale, big thinking at bhold design: Product development under the eye of Susan Taing, founder, takes certain characteristics from the MakerBot desktop 3D printer used to produce prototypes in the bhold lab. Double-walled thermal saki cups, for instance, with little fingerholds on one side.
Or—our favorite, above—colorful little two-tone, two-piece objects that separate: the outer C-shape that hangs on the restaurant table and holds your bag or helmet by its handle or chin strap; and the inner part that emerges to wind and store your earbuds tangle free. You can work with the bhold labs on your own designs; contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Or like us, you can just stand at a design show and play with the appealing objects fitting them together and taking them apart over and over again as minutes tick by.
Small detail, big advantage: Cambium Studio is a Brooklyn-based woodworking furniture and design company founded by Mark Righter. From its Greenpoint location, Cambium will create custom designs for clients, and on its website offers a portfolio of pieces of its own design.
What caught our eye at The Factory Floor was deceptively simple but elegant shelving for display of favorite small objects—a place to put the candles, the Japanese vase, the framed photo—that can be adjusted as the array of objects changes. How?
The framework is hung from a secure cleat on the wall, but individual shelves operate on a sliding dovetail joint. The shelves, using bamboo, are beautiful finished and the sliding function gives you an excellent excuse to pat them and fiddle with them for the pleasure of touch.
Then there’s the MidCentury-looking coffee table with lift up hinged covers on its four storage compartments. Three of the covers are in a 60s’s orange and one is in bamboo strip laminate. Fittingly it is named Mod Quad by Wonk, its maker.
Other combinations of finishes to suit individual clients are possible, Wonk’s website says. In fact, since each piece is custom-made for you, you are confronted with swatches and urged to pick from them. Takeaway notion? Wonk if you love finishes.
Along with others, Pratt Institute was a co-sponsor of the design show at The Factory Floor. At the Pratt Industrial Design booth—Pratt Institute is, by the way, based in Brooklyn—Brooklyn Artisan was engaged by a very clean-lined yet comfortable loveseat. The foam cushions made it quite sittable. And as its Pratt graduate designer demonstrated, the cushions can be flipped to your choice of color contrasts.
More coverage from the recent Brooklyn design show at The Factory Floor in Industry City, Sunset Park, is to come in the next few days. For Brooklyn Artisan’s prior coverage, follow these links:
“Ready, Aim, Fire” or “Done is Better Than Perfect”?
WHY DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT, says the Etsy Blog title for the June 20, 2013 entry by Alexandra Ferguson. And then the art shows a cute cushion with the message, Ready, Fire, Aim. As the originator of “‘Done’ is better than ‘perfect'” (explained in an addendum to an earlier post to this blog), I like to think that in today’s conditions these mottos make more sense than they did in Bill Jones’s day.
Ms. Ferguson observes that many businesses get stuck in “paralysis by analysis” rather than going forward. Her own story is a case example that encourages leaping from the daydream stage into production and selling – in her case, selling her handmade cushions on etsy.com. Her first offering of message pillows she’d already made cost $1.60 in listing fees, a very low capital requirement to enter a business! No lease. No significant inventory. No staff. No equipment beyond what she’d needed for gift-cushion making as a hobby. Her launch served as a market test — and a commitment test. Was this really a business she could stay in? DUMBO-based etsy.com made it not only cheap and easy to get her product to market, but the market itself is global.
Smorgasburg and the Brooklyn Flea help other artisan-entrepreneurs test themselves in the food business by providing venues and some basic disciplines. The Brooklyn Botanic’s celebration of hot chiles is another. Ample Hills Creamery founder Brian Smith took his unusual ice cream flavors to market via ice cream trucks and kiosks before committing to that first lease in Prospect Heights. Brooklyn’s growing network of co-working spaces and commercial kitchens keep equipment and production space costs thinkably low. Share-and-learn facilities like 3rd Ward in Williamsburg can graduate their biggest successes to Industry City in Sunset Park.
Brooklyn Artisan Executive Editor Basia Hellwig reports in “Start Ups Aren’t for Sissies” on some entrepreneurial thrills and chills. Her stories provide mental preparation. BA Executive Editor Joy Makon’s look inside Alchemy Creamery gives another window into what’s involved. BA Executive Editor Phil Scott and Contributor Bruce A. Campbell have reported on Brooklyn’s Makerbot, pioneer of 3D printers. There’s venture capital out there to back some winners.
Tomorrow, Brooklyn’s first food and drink trade show, Brooklyn Eats, presents a new opportunity. It is sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and a host of corporations like commercial Citibank, Fairway, Whole Foods, National Grid, Verizon, and Acumen Capital Partners LLC and Jamestown Properties, as well as the Daily News and Edible Brooklyn as media partners.
The bright line between artisan and entrepreneur shines when the Alexandra Fergusons and the Brian Smiths of the world realize they’re not just creating cute cushions or unique premium ice cream flavors, they’re creating businesses. Should they move beyond bootstrapping? How much bigger can small-batch get before small-batch loses its edge? Sounds like it’s time for a serious, stage-two business plan. That’s when a trade show like Brooklyn Eats or a presentation to a venture capital fund really starts to make sense. It’s only been a very few years since Makerbot stepped up, after all, and it’s now valued at $403 million. Who’s next?
Brooklyn Artisan Editor & Publisher Anne Mollegen Smith was editor-in-chief of Working Woman magazine when its circulation grew to 950,000.
CSA Signups • Maker Opportunities Big and Small • Art and Literary Openings
Now on location in DUMBO: Heartwalk, a 30-foot art installation made from Sandy-salvaged wood. Situ Studio, a DUMBO-based design studio was commissioned to create this piece for the Times Square Alliance and the Design Trust for Public Space where the Heart was installed in Times Square. Boardwalk boards from Long Beach, NY; Sea Girt, NJ; Atlantic City, NJ were repurposed for the installation. Through April 30, DUMBO visitors are encouraged to interact with the piece and tweet/instagram photos to #DUMBOHeartwalk@DUMBOBID.
Art and Literary Happenings
Friday, March 15 Workt by Hand: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts at Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Until the late twentieth century, much of quiltmaking was thought of as a craft, and makers were often anonymous. This exhibit of 35 quilt masterpieces will explore the way quilts have been seen and understood as both an art form and a craft. Traditionally, quilts have been displayed horizontally to represent the beds for which they were originally designed. Workt by Hand displays some quilts vertically—in the manner of a painting or print—to encourage viewers to think of them as art objects. Opening Friday. On display through September 15.
Friday, March 15 Currency, juried solo exhibition by Denis Beaubois at New York Art Residency & Studio Foundation. Currency asks us to consider: How much is an hour of your time worth and what is the worth of each dollar you make? This exhibit examines thoughts about economy and labor, the value of a work of art, the worth of one day’s work, all on a global scale. Sydney, Australia-based artist Denis Beaubois will talk at 7pm. Sunset Park. 6pm-8pm.
Saturday, March 16 Gotham: Writers in the City at the Brooklyn Public Library. Novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander discusses his latest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, with WNYC’s Leonard Lopate. Grand Army Plaza. 4pm.
CSA signups happening now
The Vernal Equinox is on Wednesday at 7:02am. Balancing eggs on end: urban myth? Better to eat locally-sourced eggs—you could sign up now and get them through a Community Supported Agriculture group. CSAs work something like a magazine subscription in that members buy shares at the beginning of the season and receive regular deliveries of produce directly from the farmer. Now is the time that many CSAs are signing up customers for spring and summer shares. Just Food is a useful site listing all the CSAs in Brooklyn, and there are a lot. Here’s a short list of a few; check the site to locate more.
< • Partners Trace CSA at Huckleberry Bar, Williamsburg. New Paltz, NY based Partners Trace offers produce and flowers with an under-two-hour travel distance to Brooklyn. On Monday, March 18 from 5pm-7pm, Huckleberry Bar will host a CSA Happy Hour for signups and information.
• Iliamna Fish Company, a family-owned fishing cooperative on the Bering Sea in Bristol Bay, Alaska, offers shares in their wild red salmon harvests. The sockeye salmon from Iliamna contains the highest Omega-3 oil content and naturally occurring anti-oxidants of any Pacific salmon species. Customers include Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Applewood, and Dean & DeLuca. Shares will be available in late summer with pickup location in Brooklyn.
• Brooklyn Beet CSA, serving Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn. Season starts June 3 for 26 weeks.
• Clinton Hill CSA, for Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. Check out their informative newsletter The Beet.
For Makers and DIYers
Saturday, March 16 Brooklyn Craft Camp. This is a day-long DIY chance to craft your heart out, socialize and have fun. This may not start you on the road to Etsy-ville, but it sounds like a swell way to spend a Saturday learning some new techniques with like-minded craft lovers. The day will consist of four classes (with four finished projects); a chance to meet and work with craft-focused authors, bloggers and designers; and tastes of local food and drink. Brooklyn Craft Camp was founded by Brett Bara, a lifelong crafter turned DIY professional. Sponsors include West Elm, Purl Soho, Juice Box, The Crochet Dude, Vogue Knitting Live. Classes are filling up, so registration asap is advised. Greenpoint. 10am-7pm.
Sunday, March 17 Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Class: Easter/Spring Equinox Edition, part of The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy. The Academy offers a fascinating series of classes that reflect an interest in taxidermy, animal and insect anatomy, fine art techniques and arcane subjects. This 3-hour workshop will have you working with Rhinoceros beetles (thankfully they are provided), to make a shadowbox diorama. The class is taught by a former insect preparator from the American Museum of Natural History, and may cause you to see nature’s tiny giants in a whole new way. At Observatory, Gowanus. 1pm-4pm.
Monday, March 18 The Future of 3D Manufacturing—Brooklyn Style: an evening of panel discussions and demonstrations hosted by Brooklyn Futurist Meetup. This energetic, well-attended Meetup will be joined by Brooklyn Tech and Volumetric Society Meetups for a lively session with all-star 3D enthusiasts. Robert Steiner, from MakerBot will speak and demonstrate a MakerBot. D-Shape, Shapeways and Make editor Brian Jepson are among other participants. The event is wait-listed, but you can attend by following the instructions on the site. At Brooklyn Law School, Moot Court Room, Downtown Brooklyn. 7pm-9:30pm.
Sunday, April 28 Lettering class at L’Ecole Des Beaux Arts. Classes at LDBA fill up and sell out almost immediately, so consider this a heads up if you’re interested in attending any future sessions. This 90 minute class, for 6 students only, will provide instruction and materials to learn classic hand-rendered lettering and font techniques to produce cards and envelopes. LDBA is a hardware, housewares and artist supply store and site founded by artist Sara Moffat. “We provide tools, techniques and materials to allow people to excel in their medium,” says Sara. Other unique classes are offered for all age groups, and include Knot Tying (a hot topic, apparently), Make Your Own Bow and Arrows, Picasso and Kandinsky Study for ages 5 and up, and all seem to fill up right away. Williamsburg.
A post-Sandy update
Monday, March 18 Nathan’s Coney Island location on the Boardwalk is scheduled to reopen. And next weekend, as part of Coney Island’s opening weekend celebrations, the first qualifier round of the 2013 July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest will be held. There’s nothing slow-food or artisan about these dogs, but what’s better than enjoying one by the Atlantic’s surf? Nathan’s main location on Surf Avenue is still being repaired and will reopen Memorial Day Weekend.
Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to email@example.com
Happy 32 Sol ♥