In celebration of Mother’s Day this Sunday, we’re turning the spotlight on three extra-busy Brooklyn moms (BB’s own Nicole Davis deserves an additional shout-out here, though we’re not navel-gazing enough to profile our own publisher). In addition to mothering small children, all have launched and currently run successful and creative businesses that emphasize quality goods and a sense of community. Also, let this be your reminder: If you haven’t already done something nice for your mom, figure it out today so she’ll be reminded how great she is on Sunday.
Christine Onorati is the Brooklyn mom behind Greenpoint’s beloved bookstore, WORD. With her one-year-old son Adrian (pictured above) in tow, Onorati does most of her buying and bookkeeping work from her nearby home, checking in on the shop on an almost daily basis. Regarding her literary offerings to the small set, she says, “I always had a strong kids’ section in my stores because I think books are the best gifts to give a child.” And if you’ve been to WORD, you know that the kids’ section is a bright and inviting spot, and that the rest of the store is impossible to escape without taking home a few new titles.
In the spring of 2009, shortly after the birth of her first son, Judy Lee launched Half Dot Brooklyn, an urban outerwear line for “little ladies and gentlemen.” Lee worked in print design, hand-making photograph-covered journals until a pregnancy diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarium, a rare, severe and life-threatening form of morning sickness. She took up sewing in an attempt to distract herself from how ill she was. Soon enough, she was thinking up the little coat designs that are Half Dot’s bread and butter.
Each design is named after a favorite street in Fort Greene, where Lee and her husband lived when she was developing the line. Her son, Joshua, (pictured wearing one of his mom’s designs, above) is now one-and-a-half, and continues to inspire. “I always put my new outerwear designs on him to test out if they’re practical and comfortable enough for all our city adventures,” says Lee.
When Jennie Dundas and Alexis Miesen noticed a dire lack of ice cream in the Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill area, they “took matters into our own very inexperienced hands and Blue Marble Ice Cream was born,” says Dundas. Neither she nor Miesen had kids when Blue Marble made its Atlantic Avenue debut, but both women considered what kind of example they’d want to set for their small customers through environmentally-conscious business practices. Dundas now has a seven-week-old son, Jasper, who sometimes accompanies her to Blue Marble meetings. How has life changed since her newfound motherhood and ever-expanding business? “We can drive ourselves crazy with tasks and deadlines and goals and ideals, many of which we’ll never meet, and having Jasper makes me feel when I don’t get things perfect, at the end of the day, it’s all okay.”
On that note, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in Brooklyn and beyond.
Text by Alicia Kachmar, sent by Annaliese. Photos courtesy of WORD and Half Dot–photo by Amy Shaw.
Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.