From ETHAN STARK-MILLER
It would be no understatement to say that Buunni Coffee made a significant impact on the neighborhood before it closed last January. Many saw it as a community center where they could not only have a cup of coffee but also stay in touch with neighbors for hours.
Eduvigis Marmolejos was one of Buunni’s loyal fans. In fact, the owner of One Yoga for All on Johnson Avenue says she was often inspired by the Buunni’s ability to bring the surrounding community together despite their differences. And that really showed when the same community gathered in the weeks leading up to its closure to keep Buunni open – a battle that was ultimately lost.
“I’ve always supported them because they really set an example for the community – or what community should be,” said Marmolejos. “You were always inspiring.”
After that rally in January to save Buunni, Marmolejos realized that she too could create a stronger support network among her colleagues. In fact, it was most important to her during the pandemic when many of these companies – including her own – were struggling to survive.
Your idea? Use their studio space to bring other entrepreneurs together and create a monthly pop-up market focused on wellness.
The yoga business in particular has taken a hit during the pandemic, especially because it’s a practice that typically requires face-to-face interaction. Since their newly expanded studio space was closed for more than a year, Marmolejos had to teach yoga using the online video conferencing app Zoom.
As a result, some of the Marmolejos yoga teachers – and even some of their clients – developed sideline jobs to bring in extra cash.
“I know a lot of my customers have become small business owners during the pandemic,” said Marmolejos. “Some of them became candle makers. Some of them were selling jewelry. We just talked and talked a bit about how we can work together, how we can be more community. “
Their monthly pop-up market idea is to give small businesses that don’t have brick and mortar stores a physical space to sell their products.
“I have a privilege to have a shop front that only people pass by,” said Marmolejos. “And I want to give (other companies) the same chance. So these are people who don’t have a storefront, they probably have an Instagram account and they sold it there. Or maybe even an Etsy website. “
At least initially, the market itself will be housed within the walls of One Yoga at 3264 Johnson Avenue. There is a room, said Marmolejos, that is big enough for up to 10 salespeople. But she’s also researching the city’s approval process to see if she can expand the market to the sidewalk in front of the studio.
One way or another, Marmolejos is hoping to launch the pop-up market later this month and continue it every month from then on
The market Marmolejos envisions will have a bit of everything from homemade crafts to food stalls. She assumes that she will need to bring different groups of vendors to market each month based on their limited space and the huge amount of interest she has already received from potential vendors.
Alexa Rivera is a Marmolejos yoga customer who plans to sell her homemade candles through the pop-up market. The Marble Hill resident started her business – Soy Vida Candles – during the pandemic to distract herself from the stress of her day job.
That’s because Rivera saw much of the coronavirus firsthand at outpatient registration at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital across Broadway Bridge.
“To work through COVID and see all these patients come in and die, I just needed one way,” she said. “You know, something else that occupies my mind and time. That’s how it all started. “
Rivera chose candle making because she always found lighting a scented candle to be a great way to relax after a stressful day.
So far, Rivera has made her candles at home – a process that takes several hours, depending on the batch size. And she mainly sells them to friends, family and work colleagues. So she’s looking forward to the opportunity to sell them on the pop-up market.
“I’m very excited,” said Rivera. “It will be another fun experience. I think a lot of people like candles. They like the scents. Some smells bring back memories of their childhood, you know? “
Nyota Nayo works as a teacher in the yoga studio. She also plans to take part in the inaugural pop-up market this month to sell jewelry. Nayo works as an “independent consultant” for paparazzi accessories, which among other things sell performance jewelry that dancers and other performers can wear during a show.
Nayo also works as a dance teacher and a doula – a non-medical obstetrician – both professions, she said, can involve performance jewelry.
Nayo, who lives in Long Island but spends some time in Riverdale, mainly sells the jewelry to her customers and through Facebook. Often out on business, Nayo looks forward to the pop-up market so she can showcase her jewelry in one place.
“I’m so everywhere,” said Nayo. “So sometimes it’s good to only be in one place. This promotion in one place is very good. “
Although these different products don’t seem related, Marmolejos says that everything on the market has a common theme: wellness.
“Something that is informative, something that makes you focus on being better for yourself,” she said. “So, things like that, I want to focus on everything that contributes to the community.”