By Joshua Rosario
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new business incubator using recycled shipping containers has launched in Jersey City turning a vacant lot into a hub for shopping.
After five years of selling her postpartum apparel online, Nia Reid-Allen was considering opening a boutique of her own to sell her “mama swag,” but worried about the financial commitment.
Thanks to a new initiative in Jersey City, she and three other local entrepreneurs are bringing their businesses to a brick and mortar location.
On Wednesday, Mayor Steve Fulop unveiled a new business incubator using recycled shipping containers on what was previously a vacant lot across from the Jackson Square Hub on Martin Luther King Drive.
“When I saw what it looks like even in the early construction stages, I was like that’s going to be so cool,” Reid-Allen said of the project, dubbed “Container Village.”
“Why not give it a test run to see what it would be like if I outfitted a space and made it a boutique.”
Reid-Allen, the owner of Myrtle & Flossie, said she was inspired to create her brand after her own experiences following the birth of her daughter seven years ago. She experienced different emotional, mental, and physical changes during the postpartum period.
“I wanted to create a brand that speaks to that experience after a woman gives birth and is in the trenches of motherhood,” she said. “Which is why I create and curate apparel, workshops/classes, and other services that address the different needs and changes during the ‘4th trimester.’”
Reid-Allen’s Myrtle & Flossie is temporarily using one of the four containers along with Sw3at Sauna Studio, Ewiasi and Tafari Tribe Marketplace. Container Village is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but each shop has their own hours as well.
Reid-Allen has been running her business out of Container Village since September and will be leaving at the end of November. Next month a new wave of businesses will move in, according to Michele Massey, executive director of the Jackson Hill Special Improvement District.
Brick and mortar businesses can also apply for a chance to reserve the containers.
Massey said there is already a waiting list to reserve one of the converted containers. She said business owners from as far as Brooklyn are applying, but Jersey City businesses are getting priority.
“Container Village is a cost-effective initiative to not only bolster our efforts supporting new and growing small businesses, but also expanding upon our investment to revitalize the area, bringing tangible change, stimulating the local economy, and ultimately encouraging future business opportunities as well.”
Reid-Allen is looking to eventually open her own permanent shop on Monticello Avenue and continue to take part in the area’s revitalization.
Across the street, Fulop also cut the ribbon on a second city building that is part of the Jackson Square Hub. The new complex will house the city’s divisions of Housing Preservation and Community Development, as well as the newly created Division of Affordable Housing.
The Housing Preservation and Community Development offices will help residents navigate tenant/landlord issues, housing code enforcement, relocation services, the first time home buyers’ program, and the homeowner repair program. The offices will also handle short-term rental registration in 2020.
“It is going to make it a lot easier for people that are generally confused about all the different offices in Jersey City,” Fulop said. “It will be a one-stop-shop that you can come into and get all your needs around housing.”
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