This Women’s History Month, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is proud to share stories of our many women founders and business owners. Da Spot is a Black- and women-owned business located in City Point. The fashion boutique is home to 25+ independent creative Black-owned brands and it houses a small art gallery called C.A.N.V.A.S (Creating a New View Around Society), which also features the work of local artists.
Co-founder Michelle Cadore and her partners, FACE and Tyler Jordan, also partner with local artists to showcase their work. Recently, Michelle was featured in a national MasterCard campaign about small businesses which aired during the Grammy’s.
We talked with Michelle about entrepreneurship, collaborations she’s enjoyed, and why she and her partners chose Downtown Brooklyn.
DBP: How did you get started with Da Spot and your own clothing line, Yes I Am?
MC: I was working in city government helping small businesses. I reached a ceiling and decided to start my own clothing brand to help inspire and empower others. I met FACE, now my partner, in 2016 when I started my clothing line, Yes I Am, and decided he was going to be my mentor. One year later, FACE, another partner, and I decided to open Da Spot together. I had always wanted to operate a brick and mortar store and he had always wanted to open a boutique! We know first hand how hard it is for independent creatives to scale their businesses – especially those from underserved communities. We wanted to create a safe space to provide our fellow creatives with more visibility, access to economic opportunities, and connection to a supportive community.
DBP: How did you spread the word about your new venture?
MC: We tapped into our network. Our friends — all the people that we knew, the creatives we met along our journey, they came and they supported our vision!
DBP: What’s something you’ve done for YES I AM and Da Spot that you’re excited about?
MC: After the Mastercard commercial aired during the Today Show, I saw a sale pop up. I started screaming — Jennifer Hudson ordered two jackets from me! I just finished making one of her jackets and I can’t wait to ship them out.
I also applied DA SPOT for the “SHE CAN THRIVE” grant from the McBride Sisters and we were recently named as winning recipients. We previously won a Shea Moisture grant when we moved to City Point, so this is our second win! I’m glad to see big businesses supporting our mission and helping our community.
DBP: What are some upcoming collaborations you have planned?
MC: We worked with City Point last month to put on a “Black Creatives and Culture Market and Art Show” and it was a huge hit. In honor of Women’s History Month, we decided to also launch a women’s art show, called “She Will Change the World”, which will take place on the last two weekends of March. We are excited to once again create space for local women artists to have their work featured in City Point.
DBP: It seems like you’re passionate about helping others succeed.
MC: Yes! I encounter a lot of people who want to start their own businesses and I’ve been helping them launch for about 10 years. When I transitioned to full-time entrepreneurship in 2019, I decided to take business a step further and launch my own consulting firm, Cadore Advisory Group. It’s always exciting to see others realize their dreams of business ownership, and helping them go from concept to business registration is the first major step! That’s actually the easy part — managing operations, developing best practices, and strategically planning for growth and sustainability is the real work.
DBP: Why Downtown Brooklyn?
MC: We chose Downtown Brooklyn because it is home to us. Albee Square Mall was our favorite after-school hang out when we were growing up and we were always inspired by all of the small businesses in the area. After opening up our first shop, we’d often participate in FAD Market at City Point and we’d always envision owning a store inside the center. We finally made it happen!
DBP: Do you have tips for anyone who wants to start their own venture?
MC: My first piece of advice is to do your homework before you take the leap. Tap into your network and try connecting with people who can guide you in the right direction. It’s not easy but having a mentor, even someone who may be just a little ahead of you can make a difference. Also, there are plenty of free resources available from agencies like Small Business Administration, Small Business Services to local nonprofits and Community Development Financial Institutions. There are also online groups and resources dedicated to small business education. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals will not only help you start but it will keep you motivated. You just have to believe you can do it and you are halfway there.
Read more about MIchelle check out Da Spot here.