Throughout CapNY, you’ll find all different kinds of innovative businesses that impact their communities in various ways. In this article, we’ll focus on five CapNY businesses which have unique social missions and play an important part to the wellbeing of this region and its people.
CapNY Community-centric Businesses
These 5 CapNY companies have integrated social missions and community commitment directly into their business plans. Their work supports and lifts the people around them, and their leaders are actively contributing to causes that reach far beyond the bottom line.
Collectiveffort is a co-working, media and marketing firm based in Troy. “We tell real stories and create spaces that actually help people,” says Patrick Harris Jr., President of Collectiveffort. This mission is woven through the organization: a “creative agency turned social enterprise.” Collectiveffort provides creatives and companies with projects, resources and community, including:
- #DoSomething, bringing creatives together to share and connect.
- CollectiveffortTV (CETV) features a range of co-hosts and spotlights independent artists, while providing donation information.
- Coworking space that facilitates organic and fluid interaction. They offer 1-on-1 micromeetings and access to in-house media production equipment to their members.
- Ongoing film project, “Let’s Talk About Life,” addressing the gap between local residents and organizations.
Collectiveffort’s influence extends beyond its walls. Their deep engagement with the local community helps them broker conversations with stakeholders about development’s impact, particularly the impact on communities of color. CE is committed to innovative, supportive strategies for creative and community growth.
Content Director DeSean Moore adds, “We also work with large companies, who really want to see Black business entrepreneurs succeed. Collectiveffort helps these businesses transition into the digital age.”
Collectiveffort has established a trusted voice at decision making tables. They cultivate their own physical and digital infrastructure. They show the region how creative self determination can translate into meaningful change.
Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen
Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen is a Korean restaurant, local family farm and immigrant resource powerhouse all in one.
The restaurant is located in downtown Troy and focuses on wholesome food, supplied in part by their farm located in Cambridge. Thankfully, it has introduced Capital Region diners to Korean cuisine and culture. Take out services, event catering and kimchi workshops provide opportunities for customer interaction and education.
Sunhee’s empowers local immigrant communities, individuals and families in many ways. Sunhee’s non-profit arm gives local immigrants access to services, including three levels of free English language classes and a laptop grant program. Owner Jinah Kim, who recently began attending law school, and plans on adding legal services to the mix.
The restaurant provides both employment and professional development. As Jinah explains, “We provide jobs… in a space that’s not only safe for immigrants but also a great training platform. It’s great for transition.” Her experience in refugee resettlement and immigrant services helps her understand the needs and wants of the immigrant community. Sunhee’s is a fantastic restaurant and critical resource hub, both inside and outside the immigrant community.
Root3d is a project borne out of deep love for community wholeness. The mission statement says it all: “Root3d is devoted to making wellness accessible for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Healing ourselves is our birthright and we all deserve safe space to heal.”
Program offerings include workshops, yoga, group therapy, therapeutic theater, reiki and sound healing. Co-Founders Jamel Mosely and Rachelle Pean opened their storefront in Albany’s South End. They chose to create an inclusive healing space in an area where many services are not readily available. This thoughtful approach has blossomed into Root3d’s collective atmosphere. Root3d’s healers and facilitators have found a welcoming home for their work within Root3d’s warm embrace. The space is an incubator for local BIPOC healers to develop their skills and move toward launching their own projects.
Root3d is a supportive starting point for residents beginning their own healing journeys. In response to Covid-19, the center has moved most of its sessions online. And, it has adopted an entirely “pay what you can if you can” model, ensuring attendee’s continued access to services. Root3d’s personal investment is palpable. Jamel says, “We are thankful for people who have continuously supported both our teachers and facilitators of healing, as well as our community.”
Hudson River Exchange
Hudson River Exchange “activates spaces to bring together creativity and commerce” within the larger Hudson Valley. The company offers its members — local makers of various disciplines — support and commercial visibility.
Established in 2013, HRE has morphed through a variety of formats over time, including its annual makers market, a brick-and-mortar retail and rental work space, and more recently, an online store. Co-Founder / Director Stella Yoon explains, “Our programming is inspired by listening to emerging needs. We’re always asking what [makers] need and how we can do this better.” To that end, the company recently developed an innovative micro-lending program. 2.5% of online sales go toward a makers’ microloan fund with another 2.5% matched by HRE, coming to a contribution total of 5%. Loan are offered to network participants with 0% interest rate. They plan to expand upon this model over time, while also trying to demystifying money for participants.
HRE enables and inspires makers to invest in their work. Members past and present have opened their own storefronts and opened makers markets in and around Hudson. Above all, HRE helped members feel that their creative vision can flourish wherever they go.
Rock Hill Bakehouse
Rock Hill Bakehouse is dedicated to the art of hearth baked bread and plant based cuisine. Owner, President and General Manager Matt Funiciello explains, “our mission is to make real food for real people.”
The company’s recipes are inspired by early to mid 20th century European immigrant communities in New York City. Rock Hill’s understanding of bread’s historical socioeconomic significance translates to its organizational values as well. The bakery pays a sustainable living wage, and includes employees in decision making. Staff unanimously supported management when they proposed the creation of a free community bread rack. Now Rock Hill offers approximately 100 loaves per day for locals in need, Tuesday through Saturday, no questions asked.
Rock Hill has a newly veganized menu, collaborating with local produce farmers and up-and-coming restaurants. A crowd favorite is the vegan pizza, made with their handcrafted dough, fresh veggies and delicious dairy-free cheeses.
Rock Hill contribute to a wide array of fundraising efforts. They provide free bread to Capital Region soup kitchens, food pantries and animal sanctuaries. The Bakehouse is looking forward to reviving their full calendar of community events, including Glens Falls’ longest running open mic series, once conditions allow.
Written by: Rio Riera Arbogast
Rio Riera Arbogast is a freelance writer focused on how creative entrepreneurship impacts the Capital Region’s cultural landscape. You can follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @riorawrites.