Bushwick Happy Hour Brings Local Businesses Together, Sparks Collaboration


Erika Riley

– VOL. 15

In July, Venn hosted a casual happy hour for Bushwick artists, entrepreneurs, and small business owners and associates to get to know one another. The result was organic connection and learning in a laid-back and comfortable setting. 

The happy hour, held at General Irving on Halsey Street, gathered 10 attendees from seven different businesses in the neighborhood. Madi Lamb, Venn’s Neighborhood Manager in Bushwick, has worked for small businesses in the past and knows the value of connection. 

“It was nice to connect with other small businesses,” Madi said. “And I also understand the value in networking with each other because there’s so much you can do when you grow and can spread the word with the other clienteles.”

The businesses in attendance ranged from young to established, and represented a great sample of all Bushwick has to offer, including a pilates studio, CrossFit gym, energy drink brand, event space, and cannabis company. 

Madi was happy to see that the attendees all lingered at the happy hour, sipping wine and getting to know each other, for over two hours. The intimate size of the gathering and the casual setting at General Irving allowed for natural conversation.

Image of Bushwick small business happy hour

Madi Lamb, a Venn Neighborhood Manager, and Jalisa Millar, Carroll Hall’s Events Manager, connect at the Small Business Happy Hour.

One of the businesses in attendance was Carroll Hall, a new indoor and outdoor events space in Bushwick that opened this April. Jalisa Miller, Carroll Hall’s events manager, said the happy hour was a great way to meet people within the greater Bushwick business community. Many of the businesses she interacted with were completely new to her.

“Being a part of the community and seeing how many different things are happening all at once—but us not knowing it—was kind of fascinating. So the happy hour was great for that,” Jalisa said. “And I mean, there’s never a bad time when you have wine, rosé and some pastries.”

Carroll Hall aims to be a space for all types of events—not just weddings or baby showers. The space is open to hosting any type of event, whether it’s corporate, private, or community-based.  

Working with other businesses in the community helps build a network around the business and welcome neighborhood residents to the space, which is important to Jalisa. She wants Carroll Hall to be inclusive, which means including other neighbors and surrounding businesses. 

“It’s really important because you want to bridge those gaps, especially with spaces like ours that may be seen as secret or luxury,” she shared. “You want to make sure that people have access to those types of things and it’s not off limits to anybody.” 

Carroll Hall is already collaborating with businesses in the community just a few months after their grand opening. A local photographer and part-time comedian held a comedy show at Carroll Hall in July, and the space has also been hosting yoga in the gardens on Thursdays in partnership with a yoga studio across the street. 

“We’re looking forward to fostering more of those relationships, and hopefully more partnerships in the area,” Jalisa said.

Image of bushwick local business happy hour

Pictured above is the an outdoor reading at Carroll Hall, one of the businesses that attended the happy hour.


One way Venn fosters relationships with businesses in the neighborhood is through the digital Marketplace, a section of the app where neighbors can find services and goods in their community. General Irving, the neighbor-favorite local hang that hosted the happy hour, is one business featured on the Venn marketplace. 

Madi is currently working on onboarding more “essential” businesses to the Marketplace, including cafes, cleaning services, fitness studios, and grocery delivery. In the future, she hopes to add more unique offerings like tattoo parlors, retail shops, and local artists. 

Businesses can benefit from the increased visibility the Venn Marketplace can provide by highlighting their services to the more than 300 neighbors in the Bushwick Venn neighborhood. Madi said the Marketplace is driving a lot of clicks within the app, and that neighbors are eager to support small local businesses. 

Once onboarded, businesses can also benefit from the micro-community within the Marketplace. In the future, Madi plans on hosting events specifically for members. “It’s just bringing together different types of businesses that can add value to each other,” said Madi. For example, a yoga or pilates studio wanting to do a bigger event than their own studio can facilitate could work with an events space that is also on the Marketplace. 

Madi hopes to host more happy hours in the future to continue fostering a sense of connection among the local entrepreneurs and artists in the neighborhood, considering the success of the first event. 

“It was a really strong response, and the attendants that came left with a handful of business cards and new connections, and new ideas,” Madi said. “So I think it’s definitely beneficial and I would love to see it grow.”