Just as Apple began in a garage, many notable Westchester businesses originate not in high-powered boardrooms but in small corners of the Internet. Sites such as the online market Etsy and crowd-funding resource Kickstarter have proven to be effective starting points for a range of fledgling companies, allowing these businesses to reach a varied clientele without expending a great deal of capital.
One such company is Old New House, a vintage-and-antique rug seller founded by Westchester residents Melissa Lynn Friedman and David Dilmaghani that began as an Etsy shop. “Etsy is a haven for the keen eye—whether a buyer or seller,” says Dilmaghani, who specializes in selecting inventory.
“When we joined Etsy, no one was really selling rugs. So I took some shots of [our products] draped over chairs to show more of the texture and personality, and a couple of weeks later, we had our first sale,” says Friedman. “We had five rugs when we started and have more than 500 now.”
Today, Old New House operates both a popular standalone website and showroom in Katonah, while still conducting business through Etsy. “It is still a huge part of our business, but it has its limitations,” shares Friedman. “As we grew, our means to reach and showcase to the customer had to, as well. For example, to offer a shop-by-size option on a website was much more doable for our larger inventory than on Etsy.”
A similar story can be found with 6 Degrees of Separation Brewery and Restaurant, an Ossining-based business founded by Scott Ryan in 2011. 6 Degrees began as a project on Kickstarter, where the concept surpassed its funding goal by more than $5,000. “As we started this project, it was bigger than I and the other cofounder, Ron McKechnie, could manage. So, we needed more seed money,” says Ryan of his decision to take to the crowd-funding site. “Kickstarter acted as a great platform for us to get out our ideas and to expand our following. It also led to several interviews, which got our name and project out to an even larger audience.”
With the influx of capital, Ryan was able to purchase equipment, pay fees, produce a video for the 6 Degrees website and get a bit closer to opening a brick-and-mortar establishment, which will sell a range of local and house-brewed beers. The company is currently on the brink of making this dream a reality. “We plan to open a small place first, get the word out, establish brand recognition, gain more investors and plan a larger space, which will also serve as a larger production facility,” says Ryan. “We want to open the first place in Ossining, as it is where I’ve lived for the last 17 years.