What is Jem?

 After walking by Jem a number of times, I had to satisfy my curiosity. When I walked, I saw aisles and aisles of colorful fabric from the ceiling to the ground. I loved the environment. Jem is not your typical fabric store.  Jem is owned and operated by a brother-sister team, Michelle Zahabian, who is 24 years old, and her brother David. Their father was the owner of Fabric Warehouse across the street. After his passing a year ago, Michelle and her brother opened JEM, continuing their family tradition and a downtown staple. Located at 355 Broadway in NYC.

When I asked Michelle to describe their first year and half in business, she said it has been ” a lot of mini-miracles along the way”. Support NYC small business.

My Small Story Mix II

14 NYC stories in 14 minutes. A thread of conversations beginning with a new New Yorker  who is proof that people move to NYC from all over the world; a man roller skating w the bottom of a mannequin on his head  in soho; Freedom Bradley Dir-City Parks Foundations on what else “NYC Parks”; Founder of cleanplates.com the online healthy version of zagats; Guy wearing airtrekkers on Park Avenue; Iesha of Street Corner Resources, anti-violence teen protest @129 & Lenox; DJ Moma on going from engineer to DJ and “escaping the rat race”; Abby & Tori on the call that sent them to Haiti; Footwear designer Yusef Sirius El on 5 and 10 year business plans; Opera singer Joanna Bergin on the day she knew opera was her calling; Stylist Jason Rembert@Rocawear pop-up store on how he got his first internship at Elle; my first Yankee game, in the parking lot  I get schooled on Yankee culture by my host and former Yankee exec onYankee branding..but he has a World Series ring, I LOVE NYC; Cinematographer/producer Shawn Peters on what is Weeksville.

Maya Contreras: Drummer, Author & Editor-In-Chief of The Dirty Durty Diary

 Born in Denver, Maya grew up in a creative family. She has done everything in the arts from writing, performance to management. We had a refreshing conversation at NYC’s Gramercy Park Hotel about her novel “The Him Book: One Woman’s Almost Religious Search to Find the One” ,   NYC , Family, longer editorial, Jeffrey Wright and the story behind her bi-annual print magazine THE DDD – Dirty Durty Diary. As an Artist Manager, Maya has worked with distinguished stage and film composers including, Marvin Hamlisch who received an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe and Pulitzer Prize, as well as Bill Conti, an Oscar and three-time Emmy winner and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after composers and conductors.As a musician, Maya has worked with producer Dallas Austin, Professor Griff, composed the music for the Jomadi/Crossroads production of Six from the Rainbow, and was a student of Grammy Award winning drummer Woody Williams.

As a professional writer Maya has covered everything from New York Nightlife to the current climate of the music industry. Her interview credits include: Legendary MCs- KRS-ONE and Pharoahe Monch, Editor-in-Chief of Complex, Noah Callahan-Bever, Editor-in-Chief of the Austin Chronically and Founder of SXSW Louis Black, playwright and actor Paul Stoval-Oakley (Clear, Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci), actor Amina Robinson (Precious, Mamma Mia), Award Winning Director and Producer Jeremy Simmons (Trans-Generation, Eyes of Tammy Faye, One Punk Under God, and The Last Beekeeper) and legendary New York Graffiti crew The Tats Cru.

SMILEY’S YARNS: NYC’s #1 Knitter’s Haven Since 1935

 My first time in a yarn store so I turned on the camera. I stumbled upon the knitting factory for  New York’s melting pot. Based in Woodhaven, NY, Smiley’s Yarns is a company, established in 1935, that sells discounted yarn online and in store.  Some of the name brand yarns that it supplies include Lion Brand, Red Heart, Patons, CrystalPalace, Premier, and Tahki. This yarn store is worth the subway fare to Queens (it is very near the Woodhaven stop on the J train).

Lady Saw: Queen of Dancehall on Jamaica, “My Way”, Family, Kimora Lee & Farming

While at NYC’s Spur Tree restaurant , I noticed a woman wearing a leopard print with an array of people waiting to interview her. Sean (the owner of Spur Tree) said “she would be good for your small stories”. Meet Jamaican-born reggae singer and “Queen of Dancehall,” Lady Saw was the first female DJ to win a Grammy Award, and the first female to be certified triple platinum as a result of her work on No Doubt’s Underneath It All in 2003 after reaching #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Our conversation covers her upbringing in Jamaica, working with Eve, taking care of her family, farming , her favorite fashion brands, the origin of her name, how negativity drives her, her pets, her love of Kimora Lee and she freestyles. The multi-talented Jamaica native has had a hand in creating hits for artists like Beenie Man, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Vegas, Vybz Kartel, Capelton and Spragga Benz. Her appeal has also resulted in dynamic collaborations with Gwen Stefani, Missy Elliot, Remy Ma, Trina, Nicki Minaj, Foxy Brown Michael Franti and Pharrell Williams

Yusef Sirius El: Footwear Designer on Fila, Carnegie Mellon, NYC & 10 yr Stages

 “I’ve been an artist since I was 2”. Yusef Sirius El (Joe Davis) is a a man of many talents. Painter, musician but he is known for his success as a footwear designer. Name the brand..Adidas, Nike, ENYCE, he has designed for them. Millions have worn his designs. Our conversation covers his start and technical training at FILA where he was director of basketball & cross-training..then off to Avirex in 1997 where he built his “1st footwear line from scratch”. He took the business from $200,000 to $40million. Yusef shares his passion for working with small brands/companies, politics, shoe design, sneaker freaks, NYC Boroughs, moorish roots, love for painting, his label as well as his focus on being a strategic thinker by mapping his life out in 10 year stages. “A Mental Revolutionary ……on the path …puttin’ in work.” Yusef

Omar Dubois: Writer, Thinker on GOD MC, NY Currency, Editorial, Brits & The Gift

 As im walking out of SOHO Grand, I bumped into Omar for an unscripted conversation. Omar is a writer, music curator, brand guru and all-round creative entrepreneur. Ghana, Brazil, Bahamas, London and living in NYC. Omar got his start as Music Editor at TRACE Magazine and went on to write for publications that include Interview, Dazed & Confused, The Fader and The Financial Times’ How To Spend It. And then moving on to consult for several record labels (Capitol, Interscope, Star Trak, etc.) and brands that include Diesel, LVMH and Sony Pictures Classics, Omar’s back to his first love – writing. He’s presently working on “GOD MC” – a monograph on musician/cultural icon Jay-Z.

Christ Couture: Christian Entrepreneur,Fashion & Brooklyn 1yr Anniversary

Dawn Elizabeth Adams is the entrepreneur behind Christ Couture – “Fashion For The Saved & Fly”. She lost her job and turned a challenge into an opportunity. Dawn invited me to her 1 year anniversary at a Brooklyn Brownstone. She has great energy, faith and after years as a music industry publicist, she is focused on being “God’s Publicist” now. Christ Couture® is a Christian lifestyle brand that represents the latest, hottest, and hippest products and services for Christians.

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