Small business owners celebrate Black History Month at Brooklyn Made

Brooklyn Made celebrates Black History Month with BIPOC, women-owned makers.
Brooklyn Made celebrated Black History Month on Thursday, Feb. 8 with BIPOC, women-owned makers.
Photo by David Glover

Brooklyn Made merchants gathered at the business’ Industry City shop on Feb. 8 for a Black History Month celebration showcasing the work of more than 10 Black makers.

Sellers offering a range of products from tea, bath products and candles to children’s toys and even food came together on Thursday to honor the creativity and entrepreneurship of their brands and meet with the community that supports them.

According to Gabby Napolitano, creative director and general manager of Brooklyn Made, this event meant a lot to the shop as over 80% of their makers are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.

“We figured what better way to celebrate Black History Month than by celebrating the incredible contributions of local Black creators?” Napolitano said in a statement. “It goes hand in hand with our commitment to creating a space where voices are amplified and artistry is celebrated, not just in February, but every day of the year.”

Gabby Napolitano led the celebration which featured over 10 makers, music and food catered by Georgi Caterer.
Gabby Napolitano led the celebration, which featured over 10 makers, music and food catered by Georgi Caterer. Photo by David Glover

When it came to figuring out how they were going to commemorate Black History Month, Napolitano and her team wanted to give Brooklynites a chance to hear the history behind the local brands, where their ideas came from, and how the entrepreneurs converted an idea into a full-fledged business.

“It’s a real way for shoppers to come meet the people who are behind the products, which is always nice,” Napolitano told Brooklyn Paper.

Two merchants, Victoria Willians, owner of Sensual Society, and Khareen Georges, owner of Teazert tea, were celebrated as Makers of the Month, winning them a year’s membership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

Other featured brand owners included Preye Okah of Cobblestone Candies, Maro Haile of Deseta Design, Gloribelle Perez of Harissa Hot Honey and Pierre Thiam, co-founder of Yolélé. 

“Brooklyn is a symbolic place for me. That’s where I opened my very first restaurant so it means a lot to me,” Thiam told Brooklyn Paper. “I feel very special and humbled to be honored.”

Makers of the Month, get a spotlight within the store and a year's membership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Makers of the Month get a spotlight within the store and a year’s membership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Photo by David Glover

Thiam’s brand sells West African snacks and spices in the Brooklyn Made store. Being featured in this celebration is beyond anything he could have dreamed of when he first started his restaurant and brand in Brooklyn.

“Yolélé, it’s an expression of joy. It’s like a way of saying let the good times roll and that’s what food really is,” he said. “This recognition comes with much more than a regular one because it’s Black History Month. This month recognizes our contribution to the world.”

Brooklyn Made hosts monthly parties to spotlight their makers, including during Hispanic Heritage Month. Next month, Napolitano plans to host an event highlighting female vendors for Women’s History Month.

The store, located on the ground floor of Industry City’s Building 5, is largely supported by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and partners like Wells Fargo who funded $25,000 in grants to be gifted to makers in the store.