New York Embroidery Studio, a collaboration between luxury fashion designers Caroline Herrera, Ralph Lauren, and Oscar de la Renta, is moving to Sunset Park, signing the largest new lease in three years at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
The high fashion company, known for helping brands embellish garments with decorative stitching and rhinestones, pivoted at the height of the pandemic to make personal protective equipment like masks and hospital gowns. Founder Michelle Feinberg and her team made over 590,000 hospital gowns in just nine weeks while keeping hundreds of New Yorkers employed even as the city’s economy dwindled.
Many manufacturing companies had too few workers and not enough factory space to complete the job when hospitals were short on equipment and at capacity with COVID-19 patients during the worst of the pandemic. As local healthcare facilities stretched their dwindling supplies of PPE, businesses like the New York Embroidery Studio stepped up to fill in the gap.
While US-made reusable gowns ranged from $12 to $20 a piece, New York Embroidery Studio pieces cost $7.88 each. Feinberg said her gowns “exceed the standard” set by the Defense Logistics Agency, the federal agency that stepped up to supply PPE to hospitals and local governments who found themselves short on supplies.
The new 80,000-square-foot lease will bring more than 500 on-site jobs, yielding an estimated $73 million in economic output for New York City. The announcement came on Friday from Mayor Eric Adams, a week after revealing his Economic Recovery Plan, which he said will support small businesses, entrepreneurship, a more equitable economy while connecting New Yorkers to quality jobs and in-demand skills.
“Small and minority- and women-owned businesses must be at the core of an inclusive and equitable economic recovery, and I am proud to honor Women’s History Month by supporting NYES and women entrepreneurs in all five boroughs,” Adams said in a statement.
One week after announcing my administration’s economic recovery plan, I'm proud to show New Yorkers that we are getting to work and creating jobs in our city. https://t.co/lPMMoAxoxV
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) March 18, 2022
At Brooklyn Army Terminal, the studio will use automated machines and advanced manufacturing techniques to produce PPE full-time as part of an ongoing effort to restore the country’s national stockpile.
“The local production of PPE is essential to our health care workers and our city, so we are always prepared,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “We must be forward-thinking as we address our city’s future pandemic preparedness.”
NYES has been manufacturing in the garment center for over 30 years.
“I am totally committed to growing the apparel industrial base here in NYC,” said Feinberg. “We want to bring high fashion’s drive for innovation and quality to PPE manufacturing by developing novel and sustainable products for our clients.”
While medical PPE is typically not biodegradable, NYES has developed a biodegradable isolation gown and eco-friendly production methods to reduce waste and the city’s carbon footprint.
The company has committed to working with minority and women-owned businesses as contractors and subcontractors as they make the space, one of the largest at BAT, their own.
The fashion studio will go through the HireNYC program to find hundreds of local new employees.
Adams’ economic recovery plan contains 70 initiatives with the goal of returning to pre-pandemic employment levels. New York City’s unemployment rate is high at about 7.5 percent, roughly double the national average. The city’s budget relies on billions of dollars in federal aid.
“This is a plan to accelerate job creation and more quickly reach pre-pandemic employment levels, which were the highest in recorded history,” wrote Adams in an opening letter for the economic recovery plan. “But let me be clear— our goal is not to return to the previous status quo but to move forward stronger than before, making sure our recovery is centered on equity and economic mobility.”