I’m always fascinated by people who have a passion for something and are able to turn it into a business. In Brooklyn, you can find a lot of small businesses started by people who had a dream about creating something better or different than what you could already find.
There has always been all different kinds of food production in Brooklyn but not all of it has been very good. In the past couple of decades, a group of foodie entrepreneurs changed the meaning of “Made in Brooklyn” to denote something of high quality and good craftsmanship through their hard work and dedication.
Depanneur is a small supermarket selling locally-made goods like pickles, honey, peanut butter, confection and preserves, and they serve coffee and homemade pastries.
I first noticed Mast Brothers in Whole Foods because of their beautiful wrappings. Each chocolate bar is covered in a thick paper with nice simple graphic design, and of course, within is a high quality and delicious product. The store experience includes a view of their beautiful factory and an adjoining shop in which you can buy hot chocolate and other drinks.
Mast Brothers was founded by Rick and Michael Mast in 2007 in Brooklyn and since then they’ve shared their meticulous chocolate craftsmanship with Europeans, selling their chocolate in specialty shops and in a London flagship store that replicates the complete factory experience as it is in Brooklyn.
I often go to Williamsburg for inspiration. Williamsburg has for a long time been the neighborhood of the hipster — creative and cool people. You need to be curious when going there and not be afraid to open some doors even though it might look very quite inside. It’s not always easy to see what world opens up within.
The Sketchbook Project is another fun project started by Steven Peterman and it works as a small community resource. Everyone (if you have creative genes) can create their individual sketchbook and send it to the store which will display it within for visitors’ inspiration. The store has amassed sketchbooks from artists all over the world.
If you have a specific special interest, you can ask for it as they divide the books in different categories as design, fashion, nature, fiction etc.
Many of the established high street brands also want to have a piece of trendy Williamsburg and want to be represented there. The trend is to design the store so it matches the neighborhood; which made even Starbucks actually looks pretty hip here.