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SUPER HARBOR | September 2017

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The Evolution of a Creative Entrepreneur-The Brooklyn Swirl Way

The Evolution of a Creative Entrepreneur-The Brooklyn Swirl Way
Fikriyyah George

Don’t let success elude you. Entrepreneurs attain it through different products, and business structures, but the basics remain the same. Super Harbor breaks down what makes a successful business with help from Jean Alerte of Brooklyn Swirl.

Company: Brooklyn Swirl, frozen yogurt shop in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy)
Entrepreneur: Co-owner, Jean Alerte

The Community’s Needs

Before the frozen yogurt shop existed Jean’s wife, Gayna was the one who said “we need to have something healthier in the community” according to Jean.

“It’s a 100 calories per 6 ounces compared to 420 in ice cream. I’m really passionate about it. I don’t even eat ice cream anymore.” Once he saw the benefits he was sure others would feel the same.

And he was right.

Not only does Brooklyn Swirl’s offerings of frozen yogurt, crepes, and smoothies provide an alternative, they appeal to a large part of the community. Not only that, it’s executed well. “I’m big into details,” he said. It doesn’t hurt they’re at 445 Marcus Garvey Boulevard a location flanked by brownstones, and a number of churches including one of the biggest in the vicinity (Bethany Baptist Church).

The frozen yogurt shop’s success can also be attributed to great customer service. Jean will go out of his way to make amends. If you think the chili’s too spicy, he’ll track you down and offer you another flavor of soup on the house.

Not So Secret Weapon- Social Media

And he’ll do that using social media. Jean uses mainly Twitter and Instagram and actively searches a variety of keywords i.e. frozen yogurt, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, fro-yo and variations of words as in “Bk” and “Bklyn” for “Brooklyn” to find those talking about the business.

“Social media helped me have a great, great successful launch for my book. It helped me with Brooklyn Swirl,” he said. “Our opening day we had 550 people here from the time we opened at 12 till 10:30.”

“I would say at least 60% find out about us through social media.” The rest come from “word of mouth. We don’t do too much advertising.”

Customers are encouraged to use the hashtag Brooklyn Swirl (#BrooklynSwirl) and take pictures with the logo located opposite the register. At first he would ask people to take pictures in front of the logo. As word spread new customers take pictures without prompting.

Relationships

Customers are not the only relationship this serial entrepreneur cultivates. Jean spoke of his wife’s role. “If she wasn’t supportive I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.”

“You have to surround yourself with the right people” – Jean Alerte

As successful businesses are oft to do Brooklyn Swirl takes up 80% to 90% of his time. So how does Jean stay happily married?

“What I do is in the morning I end up driving her to work now so that we can spend more time in traffic even though I don’t have to do it. [I] pick her up we drive again and then we eat dinner every night together. So I don’t lose.” After dinner he comes right back to the business.

“Money can come and go, businesses can come and go. I know me and my wife are long-term.”

It would seem Jean Alerte has mastered the art of cultivating relationships in business and love.

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