29  Aug
2012

Announcing the Smallknot/Accion Co-Funding Program

Smallknot is thrilled to announce today a new partnership program with Accion serving the East Coast and Online, a leader in U.S. microfinance.  The Smallknot/Accion East program is a revolutionary co-funding alternative for small business owners, blending crowdfunding and microlending.  Under the partnership, small businesses can leverage crowdfunded capital raised on Smallknot to unlock business loans from Accion.  Crowdfunded collateral raised via Smallknot will help small business owners get access to potentially larger loans than those for which they would otherwise qualify, while building meaningful business credit for the business owner. 

We couldn’t be more excited to combine forces with Accion in bringing this program to market.  Accion East and Online is part of the U.S. Accion network the largest microlending network in the U.S. With over $340 million lent since 1991, Accion is committed to bringing affordable microfinance solutions to small business owners nationwide and has helped thousands of small businesses grow and thrive. 

Our very first campaign in partnership with Accion launched yesterday: A7, makers of hand-crafted leather camera straps here in Brooklyn.  Co-owners Melissa Patenaude and Craig Hackney are seeking $7,500 to fund their new fall line and increase their distribution.  It’s a beautiful product, and their previous limited edition run received great reviews in magazines like GQ and across the internet.   

The Smallknot/Accion program is an innovative new way of leveraging the power of crowdfunding to bring increased access to capital for small businesses looking to expand and grow. In addition to building business credit and unlocking capital, the partnership will help promote the visibility of all our Smallknot campaigns.  

For more information about the Smallknot/Accion co-funding program, and to find out how to apply, click here. 

20  Aug
2012

Smallknot is Looking for Interns and Ambassadors!

Want to get involved with Smallknot? We’re looking for creative, passionate people to join our mission of building strong local economies and supporting small business. Get on the front lines of the NYC startup scene while getting real experience in social entrepreneurship and economic innovation.  

We’re looking for interns to work closely with the team and founders in our NYC office (at least part-time), and we’re also looking for brand ambassadors that can help us organize communities across the country

Intern duties will include drafting blog posts, interviewing small business owners, helping with social media, community outreach and events planning, conducting research and day-to-day operations. Ideal candidates will have strong writing and social media abilities, able to work independently in a fast-paced environment. We’re a young startup - so things move quickly! 

Intern positions are unpaid, but we promise you’ll get great, real experience. This isn’t a “please get us coffee” gig, it’s a chance to roll up your sleeves and help us build a company.

If interested, send us a message at info@smallknot.com with some background about you and why you’d like to join our team.  We look forward to hearing from you! 

3  Aug
2012

Smallknot Profiles: Hot Blondies Bakery

Smallknot loves local business, and every week we’re profiling the people and places that make our neighborhood special.  Want to get covered in a Smallknot profile, or know someone who should be? Shoot us a message here.

This week’s profile is about Laura Paterson and Lorin Rokoff, co-founders of Hot Blondies Bakery, a popular online bakery based in Manhattan. They’re known for their delicious blondies and “brunettes”, and their edgy yet fun brand.


How did you two meet?

We worked together at Museum Moving Image; Lorin was in development and Laura in marketing. Once we met, we made an instant connection and have been great friends since then!
 

Why did you decide to open a bakery online?

We were so miserable with our desks jobs and we both wanted to do something where we could be creative and have our own thing. We both wanted to open a bakery and saw the opportunity in the market — there were so many cupcake places but not as many brownie and blondie places. So, we put a small amount of money together and went for it.
 
What are the advantages and disadvantages of operating an online store?

The advantages are the lower overhead costs and that our schedules are more flexible. We’re here all the time, but we can bake on our own schedule. The main disadvantage is that we don’t have a real face-to-face with our customers. Everything is online, so there’s no way for them to come in and see the product.
 

Do you have plans for a store?

Right now, we have a commercial kitchen in Chelsea, which we use for baking and wholesale orders. We’d like to open up a retail shop soon!
 

What’s the best part about having your own bakery?

The freedom that you have and the flexibility and creativity. It’s nice that everything you’re doing is going towards your goal of making the business successful, whether it’s washing dishes or doing finances, it’s all apart of the goal that you have set for yourself. Even though it’s work, it’s still a tangible pinpoint for self satisfaction.
 

Are there any downsides?

I would say the downside of being your own boss is that we work all of the time; it’s very demanding. If anything happens, we’re responsible no matter what. It’s also financially straining. Ultimately, down the road, we’ll be able to make more out of it, but the beginning stages involve a lot of front work, and it’s tough! But its all very satisfying!
 

What’s one thing you’ve learned from having your own business?

We’ve learned to let things take its course. There’s a lot of times when something happens and we have down moments and feel disheartened. But it’s important to remember that there are a lot of up moments around the corner! That’s something important that we’ve learned, and I think that’s great advice for other small business owners.
 

Any updates or news about Hot Blondies Bakery? 

Recently, our blondies were featured on Good Morning America! We’ve also started teaching classes at the bakery now. We hold baking parties for up to twelve people, it’s excellent for birthdays, corporate events, and even bachlorette parties!


Visit Hot Blondies Bakery online here

31  Jul
2012

Smallknot Featured on KillerStartups!

From Around The Globe To Around The Block: An Interview With Jay Lee, The Founder Of Smallknot

"In the world of startups innovation can often become a hollow buzzword. With technology advancing at a speed only rivaled by the industrial revolution, many in the industry are looking to change not only the the technology that runs the system that we live by but the system itself. I sat down with Jay Lee the founder of SmallKnot, and I can firmly say that he is one of these people…" read more here.

20  Jul
2012

Smallknot Profiles: Terri

Smallknot loves local business, and every week we’re profiling the people and places that make our neighborhood special.  Want to get covered in a Smallknot profile, or know someone who should be? Shoot us a message here.


This week, we spoke to Craig Cochran, co-founder of Terri, an all-vegetarian quick service restaurant in Chelsea. Craig and his business partner, Michael Pease, have designed a healthy menu featuring a wide range of easily accessible yet wholesome foods. 

What’s the story behind Terri?

Michael and I became friends in college; his brother was my roommate. We had both independently become vegetarian, but shared the same vision of a restaurant that had a better selection of vegetarian food, particularly transition foods for those who still liked the flavor of meat. Our vision was to make a place for people who want to eat more health consciously. We waited a while before we opened up Terri, and sacrificed a lot to save up enough money to open the restaurant. Finally, we did it, and have had a successful restaurant for two and a half years now. 

Why did you decide to open a restaurant in New York City?

We’re both from upstate New York. The original plan was to move to New York City, learn how restaurants are run here, and take what we’ve learned back upstate. It didn’t really happen that way. Michael and I were both previously managing another company that was rapidly growing, and we were looking to open up new locations for the restaurant. One of the customers owns the building that Terri is now in, and he approached us with this open spot. He really liked the restaurant we were managing, so he gave us a good deal to put something here because he trusted that we would do a good job. We took the opportunity and have been in this spot since then.

Did you both always know that you wanted to open a restaurant?

Not exactly, we had managed restaurants for 10 years before Terri, but we did a lot of other things beforehand. I’ve had many different jobs, between being a personal trainer and drawing for Marvel Comics. Michael has a masters degree in economics from NYU.

I read that the restaurant was named after your mothers, do you feature any of their recipes on your menu?

Yes, my grandmother and mother gave me my love for cooking and food, and I use a lot of what I’ve learned from them for our menu. Our banana bread is actually my grandmother’s recipe.

What have you learned from having your own business?

We’re learning all of the time! I’ve learned that I’m happiest and proudest of the fact that we can build a successful business around the idea that you can have a great relationship with your staff, who are motivated not by the threat of being fired, but by the rewards of doing good work. We absolutely love our staff. I have definitely learned that you can have a successful business and still be nice to everyone and maintain a comfortable, family atmosphere.

What do you enjoy most about having your own business?

The most enjoyable part is the people I get to work with. I work with such incredible people, and we all share this happiness for working here. Owning my business gives me the power to maintain this enjoyable environment. In other situations you may not have as much control over that. 

What is the most challenging aspect?

I think all of my employees are worth 6 or 7 figures, but I can’t pay them that much! There are other challenges, but that’s the one that bothers me the most.

Any advice for other small business owners?

I love to help others out, I often do free consulting because there’s such a huge learning curve with owning your own business. But the biggest piece of advice I have is to surround yourself with great people and treat them fairly and kindly. I think if you follow that, it’ll be hard to not succeed!

Terri is located on 60 West 23rd Street in Manhttan

12  Jul
2012

Smallknot Profiles: Spruce

Smallknot loves local business, and every week we’re profiling the people and places that make our neighborhood special.  Want to get covered in a Smallknot profile, or know someone who should be? Shoot us a message here

This week, we’re speaking to Gaige Clark, founder, owner, and creative director of Spruce, one of the most highly acclaimed flower boutiques in New York City. Spruce was founded in 1998 and is based on 8th Avenue in Chelsea, soon to expand to Los Angeles. Their storefront is one of the most high-tech, beautiful shops you’re likely to find anywhere — definitely worth a visit if you’ve never been! 

We caught up with Gaige earlier this week and talked about her passion for flowers, her signature style, and what it’s like running her own business. 



Why are you passionate about flowers?

Growing up, I was always helping my mother out in her garden, and I really loved that. My great grandmother also used to sell flowers and had a farm, so it was in the blood.
 
I read that you’re originally from New England, what brought you to New York?

I actually moved to the city to publish magazines; I didn’t plan to be a florist. The magazine I worked for was in the corporate event industry, and I was doing consulting on the side. I was doing consulting work for a floral designer and suggested that she purchase a flower shop. She didn’t want to, so I took the opportunity. I quit my job and purchased the shop, rebranded it, and turned over the existing clientele. I worked very hard to make it into what Spruce is today.
  
Do you have a signature style for your arrangements? 
My style is called the New England Garden, which I developed entirely by myself. It’s clean, fresh, and tailored. What sets this style apart is that the flowers look as if they’re growing out of the container. 
  

What is your favorite thing about having your own business? 
Autonomy. I’m able to basically spend my time exactly how I liked to spend it. This gives me a lot of creative freedom. 
 
What is the most challenging aspect? 

Managing employees!
 
Any advice for other small business owners?

Be true to your own visions; become clear on exactly what that is yourself. This is especially important in the creative business.  Yves Saint Laurent never waivered from his ideas, and that’s what made him successful.  I employ that with my design and creativity.  A great designer is true to herself. 
 
Spruce is located on 222 8th Ave. between 20th and 21st St. in Chelsea.
11  Jul
2012

Story Slam

Thank you to everyone who came out last night for our first ever event at the DeKalb market, an Entrepreneurial Story Slam about Lessons Learned the Hard Way, tales of horrible mistakes, life lessons, ridiculous adventures, and plans gone awry.  We had a blast and hope to do more events like these in the near future. 

Comedian Max Silvestri MC’d, and we heard from 11 great speakers. All the presenters did a fantastic job braving it in front of the crowd, but I particularly loved Allison Robicelli’s story of making her way from Bay Ridge as a self-taught pastry chef, Jonathan Schnapp’s life lessons from selling CutCo knives (fair enough?) and Tom Mylan’s dashed dreams of partying in a new Trans Am.  

Thanks to everyone for joining us, and thanks especially to Nicole Davis and Brooklyn Based for organizing, and DeKalb Market for hosting. Let’s do it again sometime soon! 

Smallknot Story Slam

3Jul
2012

""I always knew that I really loved the community that I opened my store in, but the success of the [Smallknot] campaign inspires me even more about the power of community, and the power of individuals supporting small business. It inspires a lot of faith. It’s exciting to be part of it." - Molly Simons, Owner of Cake Notice"

First Smallknot Campaign in State Succeeds - Taylors-Wade Hampton Patch by Andrew Moore

Smallknot featured in Greenville Business Magazine

Check out our article by Katrina Daniel in Greenville Business Magazine, Emerging Companies: Smallknot.com

Smallknot.com is an innovative business launched by former Greenville resident Jay Lee.  Smallknot is a creative use of social media we will see more of in the future. Billed as a “social finance platform for local businesses and their communities,” Smallknot helps small businesses raise capital from the areas and people they serve in return for repayment through in-kind goods and services… Read more here

Lessons Learned the Hard Way, an Entrepreneurial Story Slam at DeKalb Market on July 10

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Come to DeKalb Market on July 10 at 6pm for a story slam with Brooklyn entrepreneurs telling life lessons about horrible first jobs that taught them everything, misguided choices, life lessons and inspiring stories of hard work and risks taken. 

Hosted by comedian Max Silvestri and featuring Tom Mylan from the Meat Hook, Jonathan Schnapp of the soon-to-be Royal Palms Shuffleboard in Gowanus, Allison Robicelli (maker of the greatest cupcakes in the world), and many, many more. 

$2 off beers and 10% off select food and retail.  Come by and hang with us!