- Graphic Tees
- The Dress Shop
Artist turned entrepreneur Lexy Funk is the co-founder and CEO of Brooklyn Industries, a business that has grown since 1998 from making messenger bags out of used billboard vinyl to a full men’s and women’s lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer. The visionary entrepreneur has grown the retail company organically to include 14 stores in four states and a successful e-commerce website.
Funk is determined to build a global retailer that fills a void in the clothing market with artistic clothing for urban dwellers. She has used her instinct, intelligence and sheer determination to navigate every aspect of the business, from merchandising and finance, to design and photography.
In Her Own Words
What is the key to success? Is it three words: LIVE, WORK, CREATE?
“It’s having a completely unique approach. LIVE, WORK, CREATE came out of our early experience of being artists and trying to make a living. Brooklyn Industries was born from a need to be artistic and be commercial. Directly making products for our store and our customers allows us great freedom, and an ability to speak directly of philosophy, of concept and of community while being highly entrepreneurial.”
Why are community partnerships important to Brooklyn Industries?
“We believe in the creative energy that develops through collaboration. We opened our first store in 2001 in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We as artists and designers were part of the community; we sold to people we knew; we realized that a storefront is a meeting point for our customers, and a central place where ideas can coalesce.
We usually design a t-shirt around an idea and donate the proceeds back to the local organization that is fighting for these issues. We educate our customers through the t-shirt, and hope that by them wearing this product, they in turn continue the discussion out into the world. So this partnership through product becomes productive, and becomes generative, rather than most corporate sponsorships that are stale.”
Why and when did Brooklyn Industries decide to have an ecological commitment?
“Our first product was a bag made out of recycled billboards. My partner and I hand cut all of the billboards, washed them on the roof of our factory and started selling them to boutiques. We are interested in recycling and sustainability as an idea that has come out of numerous art movements of the 20th century.
Many of our t-shirts are made from organic fabric. We are small, but by being trend forward on the ecological front we can influence bigger businesses who really are negatively impacting the environment.
Also, our stores are powered by wind. We have stickers on the store windows, and we talk about this all the time.”
What has Brooklyn Industries achieved since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008?
“When we started to see the economy slipping in August of 2008 we decided to continue to open new stores. We have opened two since then, one in Union Square and the last one in Portland Oregon. This enabled us to keep our G&A expenses stable and keep going forward on our brand mission, and product development.
Since the crisis we have focused on what makes Brooklyn Industries different than every other retailer, and on why the customer should keep purchasing from us. We have become more passionate, and more direct about why we are here.
Lastly, I’ve started to take all the photographs for our campaigns. I hadn’t shot seriously since my mid-20s. It saves money, and we can bring back a degree of rawness and photo realism that was always part of my art.”
Who is Lexy Funk?
A CEO, Entrepreneur, Mother, Photographer, Green Power Pioneer.
What has she done?
Lexy Funk, a New York-born, Europe-raised artist turned entrepreneur is the principal co-founder of Brooklyn Industries, a business that has grown since 1998 from making messenger bags out of used Brooklyn billboard vinyl (in a factory she lived in) to a full men’s and women’s lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer.
How has she done it?
Without a business degree or investment capital, Lexy Funk created an anti-bureaucratic culture of creativity and independence in the workplace, centered on her mantra of LIVE, WORK, CREATE which encourages creativity in both life and work. She has used her instinct, intelligence and sheer determination to navigate each stage of the business.
Why has she done it?
Brooklyn Industries was born out of the need to find a sustainable way to live without sacrificing an individual's creative drive. Lexy Funk strives to live up to the principles of LIVE, WORK, CREATE every day by finding and nurturing young, raw talent and developing thoughtful and artistic designs. Lexy Funk believes in contributing to the community through design and products. With roots firmly planted in sustainability and the communities around Brooklyn Industries stores, Funk continuously seeks inspiration and collaboration from the artistic community.