On a recent weekday evening in Eagle Rock, a group of Northeast Los Angeles entrepreneurs – from boutique and bar owners to house flippers and sound engineers – gathered in a neighborhood shop during a time-honored, meet-and-greet affair. But don’t mistake this for your typical chamber of commerce crowd. Some of the owners sported tattoos – not ties – as they exchanged notes and information about shared business challenges and opportunites. Welcome to NELA Business Culture, a new support group of business owners interested in supporting each other and the Northeast L.A. economy.
Leanna Lin, who hosted last month’s meeting at her shop, Leanna Lin’s Wonderland, wants to connect and support the “hip businesses that are art/food/culture related,” she said via email. The group is a way of “building relationships with other indie businesses that want to make NELA a better community for art and culture.”
NELA Business Culture was founded in March by Steve Jones, who fixes and sells homes at bettershelter, and real estate agent Courtney Poulos*. The group has met at York Boulevard coffee houses and shops to share ideas and trade business cards. In addition to gatherings, the NELA Business Culture is working on producing a festival in Highland Park next summer and has contributed awareness for the development of a new York Boulevard park as well as new, nearby restaurants, said Jones
“A lot of time in small businesses, you feel like you’re alone,” said Jones. “There’s community, comraderie, sharing of experiences, educational opportunities, networking, and cross promotion.”
Getting to know other Northeast L.A. business owners can be difficult because they are often one or two person operations. “A lot of it is underground and unknown,” said Derock Goodwin, who operates a Highland Park recording studio. “I want to meet people outside our circle but have similar things that we all have to deal with.”
* Poulos, who sells homes for betteshelter, is an Eastsider advertiser.