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How Brooklyn Entrepreneurs Pivoted During a Global Pandemic

COVID-19 swept through Brooklyn’s business community like a powerful tornado last year – demolishing multitudes of small businesses that entrepreneurs worked hard for years to build.

The Bed-Stuy Gateway BID knows first-hand the trauma that the pandemic caused in Brooklyn’s commercial corridors.

“It’s been a real challenge. The pandemic forced far too many merchants and small businesses in our community to permanently close their doors for good,” the BID’s Interim Executive Director Lynette Battle said. “Fortunately, those shop owners and entrepreneurs who pivoted to survive the storm will have a fighting chance to fully recover as economic conditions improve.”

Several members of BKLYN Commons, central Brooklyn’s premier co-working space, strategically shifted with the powerful winds positioning their brand to weather the storm and thrive.

BKLYN Commons is home to more than 300 indoor storefront businesses owned and operated by entrepreneurs, creators, change-makers, and forward-thinking innovators. 

They’ve formed a tight-knit community to network and collaborate with each other from BKLYN Commons’ two locations: Bushwick/Bed-Stuy and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Over the next three weeks, Lindy Hale, content writer for BKLYN Commons in partnership with BK Reader will share members’ survival stories in a series of articles that we’ve collectively named Straight Out of COVID.

It will inspire struggling entrepreneurs, as well as share ideas about how other small businesses, nonprofits and solopreneurs can reinvent themselves.

“We all have a story. This series is focused on sharing the journeys of local small businesses, nonprofits, and solopreneurs as they’ve pivoted to reinvent themselves and their brands amidst the global pandemic,” the series author Lindy Hale said.

She hopes that entrepreneurs and business owners alike, will be able to envision themselves in these stories to gain inspiration and insight to keep moving forward, to keep scaling through this time of crisis. 

Starting on March 15, BK Reader will post two articles per week, every Tuesday and Thursday, in the Local Voices section.

In today’s post, we share the story of CNHJH – The Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice and Healing. The social justice organization has a long history of adapting to change. That experience helped Deputy Director Kyung-Ji Rhee to navigate the organization’s most recent pivot at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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