DBP recently launched the Business Resilience Series, a Make It in Brooklyn initiative that aims to highlight Brooklyn’s entrepreneurial spirit by bringing together Brooklyn-based founders for moderated discussions about how to succeed in today’s marketplace.

The series, made possible with a grant from TD Bank, kicked off with Building Black Businesses in Brooklyn, a virtual discussion moderated by Monique T. Marshall, co-founder of the organization Black to Business, and featuring panelists Michelle Cadore, co-founder of DA SPOT NYC and CEO of YES I AM Inc.; Keith Forest, marketing and PR strategist at NY Beauty Suites; and Delroy Levy, CEO and founder of Likkle More Jerk.

Monique asked why the panelists chose to locate their business in Downtown Brooklyn. “I was drawn to Brooklyn,” explained Delroy. “It was the perfect place to start the business. (…) it’s growing, it’s dynamic, and City Point just made sense for us. After being here for five years, I can say I couldn’t have found a better place.”

Michelle Cadore had more personal reasons for choosing Downtown Brooklyn. “This is home for me. Fulton Mall has always been a part of my history; Brooklyn Tabernacle is church for me, City Tech was college for me. Downtown Brooklyn is the mecca for fashion, for business. Why not Downtown Brooklyn? Being here is definitely a game changer for our business.”

Conversation turned to the effects of COVID, and panelists were asked how the pandemic had affected day-to-day operations. Michelle explained that, as a storefront clothing boutique, they had to pivot from conducting business in-person to exploring the world of e-commerce. They ramped up DA SPOT’s online presence with social media promotions, partnered with Amazon to expand the shop’s visibility, and applied for public and private relief grants. Michelle recommended all independent brands do the same to survive in this new post-COVID world.

COVID created the impetus for the opening of NY Beauty Suites’ Willoughby Street location, Keith Forest said. Founder Johanne Brierre saw a need to provide space and essential services to beauty and wellness professionals who, because of the pandemic, had been shut out of traditional work settings. NY Beauty Suites provides entrepreneurs with not only a suite of their own to conduct their business in (as the name implies), but also other resources and tools, including photo shoots to assist with social media marketing. “Social media content development is a key marketing aspect that many fresh businesses tend to shy away from. But it’s important to get the story of your business out there so that the community can connect with it.”

All three panelists concluded on a critically important piece of advice for new entrepreneurs: seek mentorship. “Educate yourself, reach out, network with people in your trade,” advised Delroy. Keith added how important mentorship from experienced individuals is for success, and Michelle provided a list of available resources that assist with certifications, business workshop classes, account and finances, how to legally register a business, and more.* The panelists’ words of wisdom left the webinar’s audience informed on how to make the most out of available opportunities and resources, and how to navigate the future of business in a post-pandemic landscape.

Interested in hearing more of what the panelists had to say? Watch the conversation below.