Women-Owned Brooklyn Business Part 4: Brooklyn Collective

Tessa Williams is the owner of one of a favorite spots, Brooklyn Collective, which is right across the street from our office on Columbia Street. We got a chance to speak with her and here’s what she shared with us:

First tell us about your business and any special or regular events coming up.

We are a collective of local artists & designers. Members sell on 3 month contracts with the shop, and during that time the boutique hosts promotional shopping events/parties to bring new customers to the shop and promote the new work/artists involved in the collective. All members contribute to the rent overhead of the space and keep their sales. We host parties every 2-3 months!

Tell us a little about your background and why you feel a connection to this endeavor.

I studied fashion and costume design in college, and then worked for some big league design houses before launching my own label at the same time I opened Brooklyn Collective. I wanted a place to sell my one-of-a-kind creations, which inspired the opening of Brooklyn Collective. It’s a retail opportunity unlike most in that we specialize in one-of-a-kind items, hand made, local goods. For designers it means the opportunity to test your ideas without committing to a production line expense overhead. I grew up in a very artistic family and so I am quite happy working with artists and designers of varying talents! It’s a treat to work alongside such inspiring people.

We’d like to know about your experience within your community.  Why did you choose this neighborhood to open your business and how have you become involved within your community?

I moved to this neighborhood in 2000 and have not lived anywhere else in New York. It’s definitely home and it’s a wonderful community of people and small businesses who are very supportive. I love that we don’t have any large chain businesses and instead have a lovely offering of small local cafes and restaurants as well as small shops/galleries. It’s important to shop local and our community makes it easy and fun!

What advice would you give to young women who want to open a small business and thrive?

I would say to be prepared to work your butt off and ready to single-handedly put out “fir after fire”.  It’s not for the faint of heart! But return is creating your own life goals and working towards building your own future. I worked for years for corporate fashion companies, which was definitely valuable, but it’s frustrating building someone empire when you have an entrepreneurial spirit! It’s really not easy, so stay true and honest to what your mission is to succeed and stay sane…and enjoy the support of your surrounding community-they will give you all you need if you stick with it and offer them something unusual.



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