The world is changing, and how we show up in our communities is important. I first learned about The Bronx Collab via Instagram. Tanesha “Coach Tea” Ingram (owner) and I immediately connected at our first meeting I knew I had to help share the Bronx Collab’s story. With the influx of small businesses, there is a need for spaces that foster, encourage, and facilitate creativity and community. They also designed the space for remote workers requiring access to a quiet space. We spoke with Coach Tea and here is our conversation.
Janeth Benjamin (JB): Tell us about the Bronx Collab.
Coach Tea (Tea): The Bronx Collab is a small business with a BIG heart. We promote community and collaboration for Bronxites. We use our space, resources, and network to assist professionals and community members. We offer professional training & co-working options for professionals and offer a plethora of services for community members, including our monthly pantry.
JB: As a Black Business Owner in the Bronx, what were some obstacles that delayed or made the process harder? How were you able to overcome those challenges?
Tea: Being a black business owner in the Bronx is both rewarding and challenging. The concept of our business is unique, and we also have a bold community approach. This combination can make it challenging to attract profitable collaborators, investors, and partners. These are common challenges that many small businesses in our Borough face. We continue to work through these obstacles by staying open to collaborations. We focus on being a resource to the community and not a sales pitch. We amplify the value and importance of our space and invite people to see the impact we are making.
JB: What are some of your favorite success stories from collaborators?
Tea: We have so many amazing collaborators within our network. Many of our members are freelancers, educators, entrepreneurs, and makers. During the pandemic, we introduced our in-house shop, which allows us to house products from two local entrepreneurs. We are currently housing products from A NYC KID (@anyckid), a NYC line that tributes all the staples and timeless moments in New York, and Ria-Glo(@RIAGLOCANDLECO), a Bronx-based candle and home fragrance company. For us having an in-house store with products made locally is a big win. We see this as a real small business solution when online business owners need to increase their income and impact.
JB: In creating a safe space for the community, what can community leaders and members do to help?
Tea: At the Bronx Collab we always say, “The Community is Our Business”, because of that motto we have served over 2000 Bronxites via our pantry, assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs with building their brands, and offered a variety of free services for youth and families in our surrounding community. We are always looking for authentic and driven community leaders to collaborate with. In fact, the support of District 12 leaders is essential for our work to continue.
JB: How were you affected by COVID-19? Tell us about some lessons you learned and how you will continue to serve your community?
Tea: The global pandemic has impacted our small businesses in a huge way. In the traditional sense, we are a gathering space fueled by activity. To date, because of covid, we’ve had to limit the number of gatherings we host and decrease our customer capacity. In addition, we have lost partnerships with educational groups and youth-serving programs because of covid concerns.
However, although we’re navigating challenging times, the pandemic has also highlighted the importance of unique spaces like ours. Space is still a need, even during a pandemic, professionals still need space to work remotely. Youth and community members living in overcrowded homes, need space to stretch, receive services and grow during these times. We’ve been able to meet this need.
We have learned so much during these times. We’ve learned that we must shift our business policies and model to meet the needs of our constituents. We have strategically reshaped our model and will continue to explore creative ways to thrive in our industry.
JB: What is your current goal for The Bronx Collab? Is there room for expansion?
Tea: Our goal is to continue to be a space that can provide affordable options for professionals and community members. We plan to increase services for entrepreneurs, expand our physical space and amplify the need for collaboration in our Borough. The Bronx is rich in talent, knowledge, culture, and energy. We want to continue to be the small business that captures our Borough’s greatness.
To read more or book a working session, visit their website at www.thebronxcollab.com. The Bronx Collab is located at 3866 White Plains Rd, Bronx, NY 10467. You can also follow them on social media @thebronxcollab.