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  • Writer's pictureKaren Seiger

Better Than Jam Co-Op: Entrepreneurs Thriving in the Markets and Beyond

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The markets of New York not only offer shoppers the rare opportunity to meet the people who make the things that we love; they also provide a place for creative people to meet, become friends, and start getting really big ideas.  The Better Than Jam Co-Op in Bushwick, Brooklyn is one such idea.  It is an exciting example of the entrepreneurial and creative spirit that takes root in the markets and grows into an innovative enterprise.

Printmaker and clothing designer Karin Persan opened the co-op just a few weeks ago, and she carries the designs from many of the talented artisans and designers who sell their products at markets such as the Brooklyn Indie Market, the Makers Market, the Brooklyn Flea, and others.  The design quality and craftsmanship is outstanding, and Persan also aims to keep prices affordable.  This shop is open 7 days a week, so if you can’t make it to your favorite market on the weekend, you can always stop by and do some shopping at the co-op on weekdays.

The current designers include Persan’s brand, Better Than Jam, as well as Joann Berman’s seriously fun and funky high-fashion pieces inspired by “green, hip-hop, skateboard culture, graffiti, Bushwick.”  At the other end of the spectrum are the dainty and feminine handmade dresses of Melissa Bell NYCKimmChi’s silk-screened apparel and the handmade clothing from the Soft Movement are stylish and comfortable.

Designs by Himane are about as environmentally conscious as any I’ve seen.  The one-of-a-kind clothing is made from “hand-picked, locally-sourced, recycled clothing, donated fabrics, and broken umbrellas.”  I actually recognized the fabric on one of their clever bag designs from an umbrella decorated with photo images of blue glass beads that I gave my sister Andrea.  What, I ask you, are the odds of that?

There are also several wonderful jewelry designers, some of whom are featured in my upcoming guidebook.  Caja Jewelry makes clean and clever hand-cut jewelry designs, including name plates ála Sex in the City, puzzle pieces, kitties, florals, or lungs.  Knitknit Knits has whimsical felted and knit necklaces, earrings, and brooches.  My mother loved the necklace from Andy’s House of Design that I got her for her 29th (ahem) birthday.

The BTJ Co-op is in the up and coming Loom Building shops.  The Loom is just getting going, with BTJ, a welcoming knitting cafe, an antiques shop, and some art galleries, with more to come.

Better Than Jam Co-op: 1095 Flushing Ave. (corner of Porter Ave.), a few short blocks from the Morgan St. stop on the L Train.  Open every day from 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

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