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Funk and her partner pursue their separate careers in photography and art before meeting. Both develop a passion to work and live creatively in everyday life.
Funk and her partner meet at Art Omi, International Art Residency Program in upstate New York. They start working together and decide to move to NYC.
LIVE, WORK, CREATE is born. Tired of working full-time with little time for their creative endeavors, Funk and her partner decide to start their own company so they can do creative work and still make a living.
Finding inspiration from a vinyl billboard found in a dumpster, Funk and her partner begin making recycled billboard messenger bags. They hire their first sewer and move into a one-story 3,000 sq ft factory in Williamsburg with a roof big enough to clean and cut billboards. Funk decides to focus on the business full-time.
The factory where they live and work becomes a busy enterprise and they decide to call the operation Brooklyn Industries (BKI). Late one afternoon Funk's partner makes the drawing from the factory rooftop with views of Greenpoint and Manhattan that becomes the iconic BKI skyline logo. They design the first BKI t-shirt and bag for the local Williamsburg art community.
The first Brooklyn Industries store opens in Williamsburg a month before September 11, 2001, on the corner of Brooklyn’s North 8th and Bedford Avenue. It was the first retail store in Williamsburg to offer cutting-edge clothing for men and women.
Funk stops carrying other brands in their store and decide to start making a full line of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.
BKI starts collaborating with musician Pete Miser. BKI launches in Japan with a licensing partner. In May, BKI opens a 400 sq ft shop in Park Slope. BKI opens its first Manhattan location in SoHo in November.
Aesop Rock starts wearing BKI clothing and collaborating with BKI on a regular basis. Shino Urano joins the company as the first graphic designer on staff. BKI opens its office/design studio on North 11th Street and launches BrooklynIndustries.com. In August, the Park Slope store moves down 5th Avenue to a larger space.
The fifth BKI store opens in the Boerum Hill area on the corner of Smith and Atlantic. In September, Brooklyn Industries opens its second Park Slope store on 7th Avenue.
BKI hosts a retrospective of its graphic designs in January. BKI launches the Spring 2006 collection with its first catalog, inspired by the loft lifestyle. The BKI office, design studio and warehouse move to a 22,000 sq ft space near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Brooklyn Industries opens two new Manhattan locations, a location in Chelsea on the corner of 8th Avenue and 18th Street, and a West Village location on the corner of Christopher Street and Hudson Street. Funk is identified as one of New York’s six top entrepreneurs by Crain’s New York Business winning the coveted “Small Business Award.” BKI is included in Inc. Magazine’s listing of the 500 fastest growing companies.
BKI focuses on growth for 2007. BKI doubles the number of headquarter positions and grows to 100 employees. Brooklyn Industries is included in Inc. Magazine’s listing of the 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America, as well as being ranked No. 28 in the Top Companies in Retail and No. 42 in the Top Companies in New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY, NJ, PA.
In May, BKI opens its first store outside of New York City in Chicago’s artsy Bucktown neighborhood. BKI promoted its presence in the Midwest with an Illinois T-shirt Design Contest, which led to a women’s and men’s t-shirt design made entirely by a BKI fan. In October, BKI opens its largest store near Union Square, NYC – on Broadway and 11th St. In honor of the company’s 10-year anniversary, DNR News features BKI as a brand that is “innovative, dynamic and attractive – quintessentially Brooklyn.” BKI kicks off a mini-collectible two-part catalog series for the holidays, collaborating with Brooklyn-based band Young Lords.
BKI debuts on the West Coast, opening a store in Portland, Oregon’s Nob Hill neighborhood. The store doubles as a Brooklyn Industries Art Space (BIAS), a store with space to showcase the works of independent artists. BIAS opened in March 2009 with Superstructure, artworks by BKI President, Vahap Avsar. In April, BKI is honored as a “Green Power Pioneer” by ConEdison Solutions and Community Energy, Inc. in recognition of its commitment to using 100% National Wind Power in all of its stores and office headquarters. In addition, CEO Lexy Funk was honored with an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist award in the Retail and Consumer Goods category for the Metro New York area.
Brooklyn Industries relaunches www.brooklynindustries.com and opens a location on the Upper West Side. The BKI office and design studio move from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to a space in DUMBO with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, very similar to the iconic logo. Brooklyn Industries holds its Summer of Music series of indie band performances in partnership with Absolut Brooklyn Vodka across its Manhattan and Brooklyn stores.
Brooklyn Industries DUMBO opens on 70 Front Street, marking BKI's 14th store location. In May BKI releases a limited edition Free Ai Weiwei T-shirt to bring attention to the imprisoned artist, with proceeds from the shirt donated to Human Rights Watch. By the end of the year, Brooklyn Industries starts a new bag factory at its headquarters producing the 'Handcrafted in Brooklyn' line.
Brooklyn Industries grows in Brooklyn, with new stores in Ditmas Park, Fulton Mall, and a store in Greenpoint made from 99% upcycled materials. BKI reintroduces the heritage Crypto Bags that the company was founded on, and rebrands its stores with a new minimalist and modern logo.
Brooklyn Industries collaborates with The Brooklyn Museum to co-design a tote and graphic tee for their Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, with Artbridge to produce messenger bags made out of a billboard art installation in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and with Brooklyn artist Braulio Amado for an in store exhibition and to create a mobile art piece out of its delivery truck.