Steve Hindy, co-founder and president of Brooklyn Brewery, said that while the U.S. was in a recession over the last several years, his business was able to stay afloat by exporting to countries like Sweden, U.K. and Brazil, which were thriving at the time.
“It enables you to kind of spread your risk around,” Hindy said. “It’s great business if you can develop it, and we’ve been fortunate to have really great partners to work with.”
Today, Hindy is exporting to 20 countries, including Norway, Finland, France and Australia, and anticipates the launch of a brewery in Stockholm, Sweden, and is currently eyeing an additional brewery in South Korea.
“Wherever I go, be it in Europe of Asia or somewhere in the U.S., there are links to what is happening here in Brooklyn,” he said. “The arts, the literature, the music; the whole culture of Brooklyn is a great export.”
It's this type of vision of tapping the international market that led to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's comprehensive export plan for the city, which he unveiled at Brooklyn Brewery last week.
His roadmap, called, “Export NYC: A Roadmap for Creating Jobs Through Exports,” outlines ways for government leaders, business partners and non-profit organizations to embrace the need to help businesses successfully export.
“New York City is the creative class capital of the nation, and we need to make it the export capital as well,” Stringer said. “At a time of slow growth at home, exporting offers businesses of all sizes the opportunity to access vast new markets and lift up the entire regional economy.”
According to the report, although 87 percent of the world’s future economic growth is expected to take place internationally, there has been a lack of “coordinated strategy” when it comes to shipping goods from New York.
Export NYC recommendations include a call to Fortune 500 companies for mentoring smaller businesses in exporting with the development of a New York Export Corps., the creation of a NYC Regional Export Council and Service Sector Task Force to focus on a regional exporting plan, and a focus on the overall diversity of the city’s branding for the international market.
“We must do more to provide our businesses with the support and guidance they need to sell their goods and services on a world stage,” he said.
Stringer’s office performed case studies with a number of local businesses who have already tackled international commerce, including the New Jersey-based firm WKS & Co., Manhattan architectural firm WORKac, the Brooklyn Brewery and Thea Grant, a small fashion company remaking antique jewelry in Brooklyn.
Thea Grant, co-owner of the DUMBO-based fashion and design company, does 75 percent of her business overseas with clients in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.
“That’s something that’s come naturally to us,” Grant said. “My dad was an entrepreneur and started Brooklyn Goes Global, and it was my job to bind these books he wrote called the Seven Steps to Export Success.”
According to Grant, the hurdles surrounding international laws and restrictions can be enough to scare an aspiring entrepreneur away from dealing with other countries.
As a jeweler, she says the laws can be even more subjective.
“When we started selling little keychain cap pistols in our jewelry, I was scared to death that these were going to get ripped off in customs,” she remembered. “I called at least five different government agencies to see if I could ship that.”
Along with aesthetic restrictions, Grant said it has also been difficult finding which countries can even afford her products, as international taxes can cause inflation, especially in the European market.
“There’s a lot of knowledge you have to have, and it’s all spread out in all these little myriads of different places,” she explained. “We need to gather it into one place so it’s a one-stop shop.”