Tag - interview

Supper Magazine Featuring Evan and Kimmee in: A Taste Of Up-And-Coming Brooklyn

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How a couple’s dinner parties turned into a full-time job, from the April Edition of Supper Magazine, by Rob Marcantonio

Tucked away in Greenpoint like a few of our favorite things here at Supper, there’s a warehouse (two warehouses, in fact) owned by an engaged couple. Their names are Evan and Kimmee and they’re the proprietors of Brooklyn Spice Co. and Greenpoint Trading Co.—two companies pumping out tons (literally tons) of high quality spice blends each and every day.

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HOW DID THEY GET HERE

A failed tee-shirt company, a short bout of unemployment, and a love for cooking led these two to start a business together. “Evan was working in spices, and we were running a tee-shirt company at night. That was a total flop. But we knew we wanted to work together, to do something creative as a couple,” Kimmee explained. 

Kimmee had just left her job in production. “We were cooking all the time and constantly having friends over for dinner. We were always using spice blends of other companies but not liking them because they were really high in salt, or they weren’t flavorful enough, or they had too much going on.”

So they started making blends together and giving them to friends. Their frequent dinner parties became their training and grounds and trade routes. This hobby grew and grew until it made sense to make something of it. “Since Evan was already in the spice industry it just made sense that we would start our own business,” Kimmee said. “We started buying bulk spices, we lined them up in our hallway, and we got a food-handlers permit. From there it just sort-of evolved.”

Evan and Kimmee began selling their craft blends as Greenpoint Trading at Smorgasburg and other like-minded flea food markets in Brooklyn. “Those are a great way to meet people and make friends,” Evan said. The recent craft culinary explosion has sparked a vibrant community of DIY food suppliers and mom-and-pop purveyors. For anyone that was making their own pickles, mustards or cured meat, Evan and Kimmee were the neighborhood supplier.

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Their first big seller was turkey brine for Thanksgiving a couple years ago. “Once that sold really well, we said ‘okay, let’s make this permanent,’” Kimmee explained. “We moved into a legitimate space and just started going full force.” They started expanding rapidly and organically with a lot of help from friends.

Evan and Kimmee’s dinner parties were still an integral part of their business. They recruited free focus groups. “Friends would go home and I would just give them a little baggie of seasoning with a number on it. I would say, ‘try this on everything and let me know what you think.’ Then people would report back to me,” Kimmee said. That’s how they expanded their spice line.

Now they sell nearly a dozen different quality blends in addition to supplying wholesale buyers as Brooklyn Spice Company. Brooklyn Spice business has been taking up most of their time, and also led them toward expansion.

They grew out of their original space in just over a year and have recently moved to a warehouse a couple blocks down the street. It’s nearly four times the size. “We needed a warehouse that can do Brooklyn Spice Company and Greenpoint Trading Co,” Evan said. They’re really excited and they’re operating at a pace that is going full steam ahead. “It’s a totally new company. We’re just growing so rapidly,” said Kimmee.

Armed with one forklift and a cargo van, the heroic Evan and Kimmee are doing all of this on their own. They receive all shipments and hand-deliver their outgoing orders. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Why work for someone else?” Evan laughed. When he left his old company, people just came with him. “I didn’t have to ask. They just knew that the service and the quality wouldn’t be there without me.” Evan and Kimmee have their hands in every part of their business, which helps them maintain the quality on which the pride themselves.

“Now we have all these friends doing small companies, mostly on the side of their full-time jobs, and we’re their supplier.” Evan explained. “We supply to our friends at Tin Mustard, local picklers and DIYers but we’re also supplying to companies like Bill and Evans and a bunch of meat curing companies.” No matter how large Brooklyn Spice grows, they want to keep whom they sell to always at the mom-and-pop level.

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NOW AND MOVING FORWARD

Greenpoint Trading Co.’s spice blends are currently in a dozen stores in Long Island, about six stores in Brooklyn and two or three stores in Manhattan. You’ll be able to catch them at Brooklyn EATS, Brooklyn’s first fancy food-style trade show June 26th in south Williamsburg. They’ll be selling gift sets and starter kits in addition to their regular assortment.

Order online anytime on their website.

Be on the lookout for an update from Supper about the furniture showroom Evan’s dad will be opening in their old warehouse space!

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Brooklyn Eats Feeds the Fever for the Boro’s Best Bites

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Cheesy cornbread, flavored pretzels, beef jerky, Kombucha, and Indian Lassi-style ice-cream were just a few of the selections offered last Friday at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s annual foodie extravaganza, Brooklyn Eats.

A buzz permeated the large Flushing Avenue warehouse space formerly occupied by Pfizer, where more than 100 food and beverage vendors were gathered to offer hungry visitors a sampling of Brooklyn’s best. Dozens of people took turns stopping at the stalls, inquiring inquisitivly about the products, some excitedly trying the foods, others somewhat more hesitantly.

“Brooklyn Eats is the hottest food show in Brooklyn – and it’s where our food and beverage companies make the jump from flea market tables to store shelves,” said Carlo Scissura, the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “It is the one show that brings makers and buyers together for business while allowing the public experience the foods and beverages that are on the forefront of Brooklyn’s food scene.”

North Brooklyn was well represented at the event. One of them was Kimmee Arndt, who along with her husband Evan Hoffman, started a spice business, Greenpoint Trading Co., about three years ago.

Along with their commercial spice business, the wholesaler Brooklyn Spice Company, Greenpoint Trading Co. focuses on selling a variety of spices, seasonings, and rubs. Currently sold online, Arndt and Hoffman are looking to expand further.

“The best part about what I do is that I get to work with my husband, and we haven’t killed each other so far,” Arndt joked at the festival. “I love the fact that we live and work in Greenpoint. It’s an amazing community to be working in.”

Hoffman and Arndt entry into the spice business was, for all intents and purposes, an accident. Hoffman was renting out a friend’s place adjacent to a spice factory, the latter was in the spice business, and it got Hoffman hooked. Along with Arndt, whom he was dating at the time, they decided to dive into the business headfirst.

That enthusiasm paid off. Their business is thriving, and next month they’re set to launch a Kickstarter to enable them to expand and begin selling in cities like Austin, Portland, and San Francisco, each of which has a growing spice industry.

Other standout vendors at Brooklyn Eats included Brooklyn Delhi, which sells three flavors of “Achaar,” – an Indian-style relish made with locally grown vegetables, fruits, spices, and oil. It’s the creation of Bed-Stuy-based chef, Chitra Agrawal, whose father hails from New Delhi, India, and her mother from the Southern part of the country. Growing up, “Achaar,” and chutneys were a staple at her dining table.

For the past six years, Agrawal has taught cooking classes specializing in Indian vegetarian cooking, eating locally sourced produce, and running a popular food blog, the ABCD’s of cooking. At first, the “Achaar,” was something she only made for her students, but with help from her fiancé, Ben Garthus, a product designer, the duo crafted Brooklyn Delhi last December.

“The response so far has been surprisingly good,” said Agrawal. “I try to make it not as intense as the ones you find in India and I try to use some American influences as well. I want to continue experimenting with more flavors.”

Jumping on the creativity bandwagon was Shahar Shamir, a former dancer who last year created Brooklyn Sesame – a healthy, artisanal Halva spread. Sesame and Honey are the central ingredients in his version of the Middle East confection. He then adds an additional ingredient to create a host of unique flavors, which can be used as a spread on toast, eaten with crackers, or consumed as a healthy alternative to dessert.

“I like authenticity and real flavors,” said Shamir, who started out making the Halva in his apartment before moving to a kitchen incubator soon after launching his product in July 2013. “I was amazed to find so many people in New York who already knew about Halva. I want to be the next Kashi.”

As the day went on, visitors and waistlines swelled at Brooklyn Eats marking a successful event for the Brooklyn Chamber and the emergence of the borough as the food capital of the world.

from Greenpointnews.com, Jul 01, 2014

Words and Image by Tanay Warerkar

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Power Couples of Greenpoint

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We could not have been more surprised and elated when we were approached by greenpointers.com to be the subject of their Valentines Day Installment of the Power Couples of Greenpoint! 

Thanks so much to Liz and Greenpointers.com for that wonderful praise and for supporting us, Greenpoint Trading Co, and Greenpoint Brooklyn.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating the love that wafts through the air in Greenpoint with profiles of some of our favorite entrepreneurial power couples. You might already shop in their stores, eat their food, take their classes, follow them online, or recognize them as fellow regulars at your local haunts, but now it’s getting personal! We asked our power couples to tell us about what they love about living and working in Greenpoint with each other, and the results were very sweet indeed.

Check out the interview here

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