Archive for the ‘Letters from Lexy’ Category

Where We Create, Where We Make

Thursday, May 8th, 2014


From our bag factory in Brooklyn to cotton mills in Peru to old school screenprinters in Jersey, meet the designers, craftspeople and factories that help bring Brooklyn Industries’ ideas to life >

Brooklyn Industries began making vinyl messenger bags in 1998 out of our factory on North 11th St. and Wythe Ave. in Williamsburg. However, we faced the tough decision to close it in 2000 as we started opening up stores. We didn’t really have a choice as prices out of Asia at the time were considerably less, and our customers didn’t want simple bags for the price of a sophisticated bag they could buy for the same price. Thirteen years later, this has changed. First, foreign factory prices have skyrocketed, and secondly, awareness and desire for artisanal, local product has grown.

Now, Brooklyn Industries is once again planting manufacturing roots in Brooklyn. We began a resurgence of making products locally in 2011, with the reopening of our bag factory at our headquarters in Dumbo (later moving the factory to our warehouse near the Brooklyn Navy Yard). This process of moving as much of our manufacturing back to the New York area as possible continues.

But how do we make clothes and bags here when the costs are still significantly higher? We have been grappling with this issue for several years, doing tests with local factories and searching all over Brooklyn and Manhattan to find manufacturers to work with us. Along with bag production in Brooklyn, garment production in NYC, and t-shirt printing in Queens, I am proud to say that as of mid-2014, we are making 50% of our T-shirts within 150 miles of Brooklyn. We are knitting yarn in Clifton, NJ, dying the yarn in Shoemakersville, PA (no, there are no shoe factories there) and then sewing in small shops in Allentown, PA and Brooklyn. In addition to the local approach, we are using organic, recycled and bamboo yarns almost exclusively. It is a micro, small lot approach to making t-shirts, but we think it will work! -Lexy Funk, CEO


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2013: What A Year It Was

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013


Fifteen years ago, we started Brooklyn Industries in a Williamsburg factory where we happened to also live. That first winter was cold. We turned the heat off when the sewing team left at the end of the work day to save money and spun ideas on a pull-out bed wearing many layers of clothing. The path from an artist studio to factory to 17 stores and 170 BKI Industrialists has been neither easy nor straight. Our ongoing mission for 2014 is to sustain the raw creative spirit upon which we founded Brooklyn Industries. We will continue to expand domestic production and increase sustainability while infusing everything we do with creativity and fresh ideas. In 2014, we want the poetry of our motto—Live, Work, Create—to animate every design and product we make, and to equally inspire you in your life.

Happy New Year, and thank you for your support.

Lexy Funk
CEO & Co-founder








Letters From Lexy – So Much to be Thankful for This Year

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

My family and I have a tradition of going around the dinner table and saying what we are thankful for. We try to do this once a week. It is a way of showing appreciation and thanks without bringing God and religion into the picture. Usually we are thankful for our food, for our family, and of course I am always saying thanks to the blessing of having children.

For this Thanksgiving I wish that all 163 employees of Brooklyn Industries could sit around our metaphoric table and say what we are thankful for. I cannot speak for others, but what I am most thankful for is the continuing support of our customer. This might sound like marketing speak, but we are in the service business so of course we serve our customer. Throughout the recession, our customers have come back, and they have continued to shop, talk to us, and share their opinions. They have purchased new styles; they stop by our windows; they tell us what they think. In short, our customers help us exist every day and in turn help us form a community in which we share our ideas.

I have been reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma recently and thinking about localism, sustainability and how we can apply some of the ideas from the food movement to clothing. This is starting to happen. The Sunny Side Bag and the Penumbra Tote are the first bags we have made in Brooklyn in many years and customers love it. We see the sales one week and we make it the next week. However, localism is not just about manufacturing. It is also about where and how we all consume. By shopping at Brooklyn Industries, our customers are supporting our 163 people working in our neighborhoods, plus helping them pay rent, buy coffee, go to movies, support families. In turn our company can then pay health care premiums, do non-profit work, pay lots of rent (too much) and mostly (this is the biggest part of our budget) pay salaries. By purchasing locally, customers are in turn supporting themselves and the micro-economies that we all live in.

The last three years as an entrepreneur have been very hard, perhaps even harder for me than living in a factory. My goal throughout has been to keep us going, to keep us relevant, and to keep our wonderful products flowing through our stores to give support and purpose to our community. And ultimately, it is our customers we thank for making all of this happen.

Thank you Brooklyn Industries customer. We appreciate your dedication and purchases. Have a great Thanksgiving.



Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Worked on Saturday morning in our Dumbo office on spreadsheets in the morning.  The office was very still and calm, and work flowed quickly.  The boys came and we checked out Creator’s Project.  Definitely some interesting pieces, and a huge influx of people checking out the technological art wonders.  A cathedral ceiling with light that sunbathed the viewer, a snowboarding video with pounding music, an app to record the distance you throw your iphone, and renaissance painting folding into video crumbled paper.  Today’s the last day, so get there early.

Behind the Scenes-City Resurrection Photo-shoot at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Serena in her bunned glory

Serena in her bunned glory

8:00 am The team worked really well on this photo shoot.  The designers got involved from the concept and helped Eugene style.  Dale, one of our designers, came in early to do this cool bun hair-do on Serena the model which featured a round plastic object.  The lipstick was this perfect fluorescent orange that I am obsessed with and will not stop till I own one.

10:00am We left for the Navy Yard, and as we were only going about half a mile we got there quickly.  The guy at the security gate kept refusing to let us in, and sending us over to Steiner Studios, despite having a permit.  So it took us about a half hour of calling, and backing up and calling our contact before we reaching our first shoot location.

Outside the Greenhouse Hanger at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Outside the Greenhouse Hanger at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

11:00 am One of the piers has a giant orange greenhouse structure behind which is a loading site for cement.  A constant train of semi-trucks slowly ambled by us to drop off their loads.  I wrote the two models name on my hand as I have a horrible tendency to forget names, which ends up becoming moments of tyrannical gestures- “you over there move to the left”

11:30am Josh, yes it’s on my palm, was slightly boyish, perhaps even too so, but looked good in the dressed up meets industrial look we were going for.  We had him run, sit on the pier, walk around an awesome bunker like structure.

11:45am Serena had perfect bangs, red hair and strange eyes that looked both ordinary and beautiful.  She didn’t have too many model-ly poses which was a relief.  She walked down the yellow line in front of the trucks, she sat on the rope and we made fun of the rope to make her laugh.

Outside one of the buildings near the old Navy Hospital

Outside one of the buildings near the old Navy Hospital

12:30 We left the cement area to drive to the Navy hospital which was a dream as a photo shoot location- run down houses in and amongst trees and over-run fields.  However, our last photo shoot was in the woods so we wanted to get away from all the vegetation.  Still I couldn’t help taking a picture of Josh in the grass with the old monuments; it was so Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (which you should read as it is really good).

1:00 Photographed them both in front of the large bureaucratic building (nice, OK)

Serena outside of a Victorian Era Home

Serena outside of a Victorian Era Home

1:30  Shot Serena in the school outfit on the doorstep of the ivy covered building.  I wanted to move there, clean up, cook and have babies.  It just reeked of domestic haven from the Victorian era, of course, with all the repressive suicidal tendencies’ as well.

1:45 Thai lunch on Mrytle right where our warehouse is, and then back to the Navy Yard to the afternoon of texture.

2:00 Grab a couple of pictures of the cranes while the models are changing by the car next to the water.  Do you know the architect/theorist Anthony Vidler?  He wrote a really good book, the Architectural Uncanny which I seem to remember talked about cranes as walking architect or puppets.  I was obsessed with the book when I was 24, and interested in doing a group exhibit in mid-air.  Anyway, back to work.

3:00 A beautiful warehouse with nothing in it except two large pallets being moved around by two workers and a man standing with a new Suburu.  He was strangely very nicely dressed with a woven check shirt.  We played with the models, in front of the grey wall, in front of the brick wall.

3:30 Serena next to an abandoned stand-up washing machine, the photo was very white.  We passed the printing house for Duggal, hi said the guy on a cigarette break.  The architect was so varied, a Weimer German stone house next to a metal shell next to a fish house.  The tug boat guys waved their hands to take a picture and laughed.  I laughed and looked at my palm to keep directing.

Serena & Josh in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Tees

Serena & Josh in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Tees

4:00 Found the museum they are making of the Yard but the anchor was wrapped as were the bicycle round things (what are they called?).  They looked like white snakes in the material.  T-shirt shots in a strange courtyard with newly planted trees, brownstone steps with no pavement, small plants amongst pebbles and a bordered up sidewalk.

4:30 The team is getting punchy, t-shirts are flying quickly.  Serena and Josh are working hard.  Josh lies patiently in a gravel pit but it’s not sexy so we move on.  Serena hangs on a pole, kind of sexy.

5:00 We are done.  Wow that was fast.  The Navy Yard was more like an abandoned film lot than an industrial park, with remnants of architectural layers and industries morphing onto each other.  Quite inspiring.  We could shoot there every month and not bore of the location.

-Lexy Funk


Friday, July 1st, 2011 Photo Courtesy of Amber Rae on Flickr's @heyamberrae

Last week, we saw the positive impact of our Ai Weiwei t-shirt. The Chinese authorities released Ai Weiwei from prison. The freedom of artists to express themselves is exceedingly important to Brooklyn Industries. Our customers’ positive reaction to our contribution shows that when we do something positive, people listen.

This past Sunday also marked the NYC Pride Parade. And on June 24, NY politicians made marriage between same sex partners legal. While we are not a political organization, in my opinion the right to marry whomever you want is a critical freedom that rises above politics. We have done numerous collaborations and events over the years for Gay Pride, Proposition 8 in California (in support of same sex marriage), Housing Works, and The Ali Forney Center. Some of these collaborations have been driven from being neighbors (Housing Works is neighbors with our SoHo store location), because our team members believed in the cause, or, in the case of the Ali Forney Center, because I personally volunteered there when I first moved to New York.

Last week made me especially proud to work for Brooklyn Industries. We are here for a reason – not just to sell great clothing and to work with such wonderful people – but also to go out into the world in our small way and to say and do positive things. Live, Work, Create. is truly in force.


Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Brooklyn Boulders fascinates us. Our store operations coordinator, Shaen, goes there every day after work, and my two sons have gone multiple times and climbed free form, returning home with stories of height and might. Is this the latest of crazes after yoga and spinning? It makes sense, the challenge of vertical feet, but within the confines of an abandoned parking garage.

Rock is scary, rock is real and rock is definitely far from the street. 

When we were starting production in our factory in Brooklyn in 1997, I had a computer programmer friend who learned how to climb in Banff, Canada. She took me several times to The Gunks, and we made our way up some 5.6 and 5.7 climbs. When we got to the 5.8 realm I had a hard time scrimping and finding the crevasses and fear ultimately took over. My last climb was a multi-pitch, which involved being strapped into the rock at different intervals. Just above the tree line, perched on a minute ledge, my eyesight slowly went as panic took over. I had a rare temporary condition where extreme stress causes blindness. Sitting on that ledge, I couldn’t see anything: not the trees, the rock or the ground. Luckily, I had a good partner who coaxed me upwards. I managed to climb the remaining 30 feet and my eyesight slowly returned. That was the last time I climbed.

Image from


Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

I am thankful to see art on the weekends, to be able to walk to work, to have coffee in the morning, to come home to two boys reeking havoc in our apartment. I am thankful to work on building product, and I am thankful to hire good people from Craigslist. I am thankful for my husband and for the amazing art he is creating. I am thankful for my mother who is supportive of everything, and takes the kids occasionally. Lastly, I am thankful for snow that will come soon and enable me to ski through the woods with my seven-year old.




Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Suggestions for how to view Dan Colen’s recent show – “Poetry” - at the Gagosian Gallery, courtesy of a 10-year old’s perspective:

1) Go up to the bubblegum pictures and pick which flavor you would like to chew.



    2) Choose your favorite Harley-Davidson from the lopsided pile and estimate how fast you could get home.

    3) Talk about the 50 tricks you could do upside down on Colen’s upside down skateboard ramp. Fantasize about what tricks were already done on the skateboard art to make all those black marks.


    4) Ignore the wall — it’s really boring and pointless (again, a 10-year old’s perspective). 

    5) Ignore the bottle picture (see above); the smelly bubblegum ones are way cooler.

Photos courtesy of


Friday, September 24th, 2010

Our photography and store window campaign “Freedom and Adventure” launched this week, along with our October Collection. So what is Freedom and Adventure? It’s an advertisement you can put on any aspect of your life: your walk to work, your commute, your daydreams. What we hope is that when you read the “Freedom and Adventure” signs in our store windows you travel somewhere else, beyond just a retro 80s ad campaign.

For this photoshoot, we also traveled somewhere else. We were obsessed with the idea of Suburbia in Brooklyn. Maybe it was because of our concert partnership with Arcade Fire or all the back-to-school hype, or the retro vibe that we are feeling right now. America is suburbia, America is escaping suburbia. Brooklyn is not suburbia, but could we find a slice of it here? 

Ditmas Park is about as close as you can get- tree lined streets, huge Victorian homes, and backyards with pools. Personally, I have always secretly wanted to live there and have never been able to afford it. But really, do I want suburbia in Brooklyn?  Probably not. That’s why after a morning of Ditmas, we headed over to Prospect Park, and then to the Greenwood Cemetery and then to the beach in Red Hook. Why the beach in October? Really, because it was so hot the day of the shoot (85 degrees) that we were dreaming of water, ice cream and swimming. The models weren’t too happy to go up to their legs in the East River but it cooled us down.

Lastly, Freedom and Adventure was also standing underneath the BQE and catching our gent handling orange traffic signs.  Not too much to do – suburban boredom meets highway escape meets trying not to get run-over.

To view more photos from this campaign, click here.

Old House

2 on steps

Woman in the water

 Aqua Wall 1Forest man and woman

 Underpass 3