Words by Justine Goode. Photos by Seth Caplan courtesy of Bulletin.
Hours after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s searing testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Thursday, a walk through women-owned startup Bulletin’s newest retail location for an industry event felt incredibly of-the-moment. And deeply necessary.
After a grueling news day in which Blasey Ford gave her account of an alleged attempted rape more than 30 years ago, before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to Republicans’ disdain and dismissal—the pink-and-yellow-lit storefront in New York’s Union Square was a haven of female empowerment and feminist merch.
Inside the shop perched at the busy intersection of 17th and Broadway, T-shirts command respect with slogans like “Unbought and Unbossed” and votive candles channel the messages of outspoken luminaries like Lil Kim and Cynthia Nixon. An embroidered portrait pays tribute the notorious RBG herself. Collectively, the merchandise telegraphs a clear message: that women are strong as hell, and impossible to silence.
Bulletin, dubbed the “WeWork of retail spaces,” opened its flagship store in August, among an expanding set of experiential events and spaces cropping up for women. At Thursday’s launch party, the room filled quickly with (vibrantly dressed) industry contacts, press and partners, who chatted while they noshed on Shake Shack and drank spicy-mango or minty-watermelon specialty cocktails from the Tito’s-and-soda menu.
Founded by Ali Kriegsman and Alana Branson, Bulletin and its previous stores pioneered a “retail membership model,” an alternative to consignment or wholesale. The model allows women-owned brands to rent shelf space in a brick-and-mortar store, while also taking a higher commission on product sales. The ultimate goal? Creating financial agency for female vendors.
“One of the best things I’ve ever heard is when brands come to me and say, ‘I quit my other job I didn’t like because I made enough money running my own business,” says Kriegsman. “I’m so happy that supporting women-owned businesses has been successful enough for the brand that we were able to open a store of this size.”
Bulletin now hosts 150 brands across its three stores and online shop. The older spaces (located in Nolita and Williamsburg), are beloved but cozy spaces, clocking in under 500 square feet. With the opening of the much larger Union Square store, its founders anticipate expanding their programming and community-building.
Kriegsman also emphasized that Bulletin’s commitment to uplifting women goes even beyond its vendors. The company employed exclusively women to design, build, and operate every inch of the space—from the property owner to the person who poured the concrete.
“You don’t necessarily think about it when you go into a store, but like any other industry, retail and real estate really [are] male dominated,” says Kriegsman. “We want to bring more women into the decision making. And it feels very symbolic to be in this space built entirely by women for customers like you and me who deserve a space where we can support other women, and give them financial agency.”
Editor, The Why Women Project