Sometimes an idea or inspiration comes to you with such conviction that you can’t ignore it. That’s what happened to Dan and Tim Joo, brothers and cofounders of Haerfest, a modern accessories brand based in NYC. It started when Tim came home to their shared apartment with the idea to design and make backpacks unlike anything currently being sold by big name or popular brands. He was toiling away in the fashion industry and realized that his every day bag wasn’t making his life easier or better. So, the two brothers put their heads together and designed the first of what would become a line of “minimal and stylish” backpacks.
“We felt like there weren’t any backpacks out there for true mobile professionals, the people who were on the go all day every day,” says Dan Joo, CEO of Haerfest. “In the world of a modern professional, everything is always changing fast. Our bags can be your home away from home and your office between offices.” The two brothers have seen their company grow from selling bags wholesale to 2 or 3 stores to having them placed in over 50 worldwide. Their success is a perfect example of how solving for a problem can turn into a great business. But like any small business, Haerfest needed to tap into any and all resources at their disposal.
That’s why they worked with the NYC Department of Small Business Services Business Solutions Center (BSC) in lower Manhattan. When businesses in New York City like Haerfest plan for their future, they can go to a Next Street operated solutions center to find capital, resources, and services to help them succeed. Dan and Tim were ready to hire their first business development employee and they turned to Orieta Laska, an account manager for Recruitment & Training at BSC. “Orieta was such a pleasure to work with. She was so knowledgeable and patient, and really helped us tap into the right resource,” said Dan.
That resource was the On the Job Training program. NYC Business Solutions offers this grant program to help businesses develop a skilled workforce. The grant reimburses 70% of up to 280 hours of training wages while newly hired employee(s) participate in on-the-job training. According to Dan, “The OJT grant allowed us to think about the true purpose of this role and gave us the opportunity to hire and train someone for exactly what we needed. It helped us become better managers in the long run because we learned how to train and hire for the right reasons.”
Dan and Tim continue to grow Haerfest and a small part of their success is tied to the help they received from Orieta and the BSC. Since 2012, Next Street has operated NYC Business Solutions Centers (BSC) in partnership with the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). Each Center serves as a one-stop resource center for entrepreneurs and small business owners