How do you incorporate community involvement, sustainable activism, and independent design into one store?
Ask Bulletin, the female-focused startup company meshing philanthropy with traditional retail through Bulletin Broads, their newest pop-up shop in Williamsburg. Created as a direct response to the current political climate, Broads supports female-run businesses by showcasing 40 completely female-driven brands and featuring products made for women, by women. Ranging from graphic tees to feminist zines, every product carries a message of empowerment and celebrates individuality.
“We wanted to send a message and do something positive for women, rather than just run a store for sales-on-sales’ sake. The execution of Bulletin Broads just made a lot of sense!” says Ali Kriegsman, co-founder and COO of Bulletin. “For two years now, we’ve worked directly with hundreds upon hundreds of incredible female-founded ecommerce brands that struggle to get access to physical retail space. So many of those brands are making products explicitly for and about women and share a very feminist mission.”
Through Broads, Bulletin plans to back up that feminist mission with tangible results. In collaboration with Planned Parenthood of New York City, Bulletin is donating 10% of all store sales to PPNYC.
“We’ve all really struggled with sustainable activism,” says Kriegsman. “Everyone is busy, people are running their lives. We felt like opening a store that would generate money for PPNYC every single day was a great way for us to help women in need, and a great way for Williamsburg women to support each other through shopping and community.”
Bulletin’s unique business model is what really makes community interaction and small business support possible. Marketed as the “WeWork for retail space”, Bulletin rents sections of its stores out on a month-to-month basis. Each brand applies and is handpicked by the company’s team to ensure that it fits Bulletin’s core mission, giving a voice to smaller companies that might not otherwise be able to break into retail thanks to big fast-fashion retailers.
“Small brands and the local boutique shops that support women are being pushed out of strong retail neighborhoods,” says Kriegsman. “Real estate becomes super pricey and small business owners can’t pay to play anymore. With our rent-share model, we really hope we are lowering the barrier to entry for physical retail so places like Williamsburg can still feature amazing female designers.”
In addition to its Williamsburg location, the startup also has a storefront in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. While both spots follow the same business model, Broads is Bulletin’s most successful venture yet, perhaps due in part to the extra programming hosted by the brands that transform the store space into a truly immersive shopping experience.
For the duration of Bulletin Broads, customers will have access to a wide variety of programs. These events include both productive ventures like workshops and write-your-representative nights and more lighthearted happy hour gatherings to form a balance of fun and function.
Kriegsman is particularly looking forward to a June 10 event hosted by Working Girls Co and Dokonoko that celebrates the launch of the brands’ summer towels and pool floats with free sangria pops and tons of rosé. “Sometimes it’s fun to just celebrate summer, being a woman, and the incredible brands we host in the space,” says Kriegsman.
By tailoring the space to a specific type of shopper —“some people have told us that Broads feels like walking into a real-life Instagram. It’s very curated,” says Kriegsman of the store space— Bulletin created a niche concept store with a clear mission. Female entrepreneurs and women’s issues are unquestionably front and center, and every component of the store from the brands it hosts to the clientele to Bulletin itself is committed to empowering women.
“We are a fully female company. Alana [Branston] and I are co-founders, and our three full-time staff members are all amazing women that we would not live without. We want women to succeed and I think building community is critical to that,” says Kriegsman.
Bulletin Broads will be open from June 15- August 15 at 145 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn.
All photography by Seth Caplan.