The “shop local” movement has really taken off lately. But in the big borough of Brooklyn, that can mean a lot of schlepping around. Now comes a new website, IntoBrooklyn, totally dedicated to goods made in Brooklyn or inspired by the place. At its launch, the site already contains hundreds of items ranging from tee-shirts to toys to tote bags. Besides being a boon to shop-local enthusiasts, the site expands the reach of small shops and makers who don’t necessarily have an e-commerce outlet.
IntoBrooklyn is the brainchild of Katharina Goetz, a native of Freiburg, Germany, who moved to Dumbo in 2012. Her professional background is in consumer goods in Europe and the U.S., including brand management for pharmaceutical companies. Goetz’s first venture into the online sphere was in 2015, when she launched the website Brooklyn Bridge Parents, well-timed for the borough’s baby boom.
“There were lots of parenting sites, but they were boring,” says Goetz. “I think a lot of parents are bored when reading about what diapers to buy. I wanted to know, as a mother, what to do in my neighborhood. What drives other parents? How can I get the community closer together? I wanted to find out about schools and classes and camps.” The website has attracted plenty of ads for those schools, tutors, camps and other necessities of child-rearing.
IntoBrooklyn, which launched this month, calls itself “a curated online marketplace.” Early in her planning of the site, Goetz noticed that there were many Brooklyn-based brands with compelling products and creative ideas, but the companies making them weren’t particularly invested in marketing or building an e-commerce website. Goetz believed she could give these local makers a platform for selling their products. “I wanted to create a hub for brands in Brooklyn and to take over the marketing part so that companies could focus on the creative part,” she says.
At this point, the website features the products of about 20 vendors offering products including apparel, fine-art photography, games and accessories. Goetz found the vendors by prowling through Instagram, local arts-and-crafts fairs, and recommendations from friends.
While all of her products carry her stamp of approval, she mentions a few favorites. Gregoire Ganter is a Brooklyn-based artist and photographer who creates collage photography prints. The prints feature the names of Brooklyn neighborhoods crafted from photos of landmarks and lettered signs. Brooklyn Barn, founded by designer Phillip Thomas, has the motto “Art made practical. Style made functional.” That translates into graphic tee-shirts like one that says “Priceless” and features a picture of a barcode. Another tee-shirt features an image of the “AfroKing,” which was originally one of Thomas’ paintings about empowerment. Chili Ortega is another of Goetz’s favorites for its bright, creative designs in clothing for men, women and children.
Magdalena Concepts is another standout brand, one with a political twist. The company creates designs for tee-shirts and other products that reflect history and current global issues, all made in Gowanus. Since they’re hand-printed, every shirt is 100% original, the company says. The majority of the designs are inspired by street style and the founder Magdalena Santos’s Polish heritage. Magdalena’s shirts prominently display phrases such as “Ich Bin Ein Brooklyner,” echoing JFK, and “My Motherland is Brooklyn,” written in Russian. The latter is a dig at Vladimir Putin and his “KGB-style propaganda machine,” the maker says.
Goetz came across her fair share of challenges when launching the site, as all founders do. One of them was persuading the first vendors to sign on. “Many vendors didn’t want to sign on until the site was launched, but I needed vendors to launch the site. It was kind of a Catch-22. I’m very grateful to the vendors who came on board right away without knowing what was going to happen,” said Goetz.
The site follows the “drop ship” model, in which there’s no central warehouse and the products come straight from the vendor. Some items are made to order and ship a couple of days to a week later, while others are ready to be shipped immediately. Now it’s up to Goetz to help the public discover the goods. As she says, “I really wanted to have a site where small brands have a certain amount of visibility.”