By Dipti Kumar
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Seated in her compact 400-square foot studio apartment in South Park Slope, Danielle Zuckerman cuts, shapes and wraps different shades of paper together at her dining table, to create Paper Portrayals, the namesake company she started in 2011.
Zuckerman enjoys using paper to recreate realistic flowers, from peonies to lotus flowers.
“I got into paper flowers because of the inspiration I saw online and I wanted to make paper flowers for my wedding,” said Zuckerman.
Zuckerman’s company is one of 42 that have recently been awarded the Brooklyn Made certification from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The certification — actually a label — is a mark of originality of a company.
Deborah Williamson of the online provisions merchant Cecil and Merl says the certification helps because “So many companies that aren’t truly Brooklyn-based are claiming to be a Brooklyn product or using it as a moniker.”
Carlo A. Scissura, CEO and President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, agrees with Williamson.
“Our position as a business organization is, we have to make sure that the businesses were really creating a Brooklyn brand, and a Brooklyn identity [is] highlighted,” said Scissura.
The certification identifies those businesses which are “registered as incorporated business, a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, cooperative, or partnership,” according to a study that was done by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and NYU Wagner’s Capstone team to help design the certification.
In addition, companies must be headquartered in Brooklyn and should make or manufacture one or more physical products.
The research team studied 117 Brooklyn manufacturers and also took inspiration for the selection process from existing certification programs like LEED, B-Corporation, Made in NYC and SF Made, to name a few.
Most of these programs are based on points. If the companies meet the basic criteria they can then fill out the Brooklyn Made Assessment Tool (BMAT) to get certified. This is a weighted points-based system with a maximum of 40 points.
Every company is awarded points depending on various categories of measure. The three levels of certification for Brooklyn Made are gold, silver and bronze. Zuckerman’s Paper Portrayal’s and Williamson’s Cecil and Merl earned a gold certification.
Gold implies the business is based out of Brooklyn, materials are locally sourced, employees are from the neighborhood and sales of the products are done either online or through a store located in Brooklyn.
“We want the money in Brooklyn, we want the jobs in Brooklyn, we want people hired locally,” said Scissura, who believes the certification will help do that more.
Brooklyn is the most populous borough in New York, with more than 2.5 million residents, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, NYCEDC. Studies indicate that in the manufacturing sector, 27 percent of the total employed citywide come from Brooklyn.
“What triggered it was the hotness in the Brooklyn brand. So anywhere in the world you go, people are talking about Brooklyn,” said Scissura.