By Carly DeFilippo
These days, an emphasis on local goods is hardly out of the ordinary. Yet, our passion for beautifully designed, handmade products didn’t just happen. The careful curation of products by such trendsetters as ICE Culinary Management graduate Gaia DiLoreto, owner of By Brooklyn in Carroll Gardens, has helped the local “trend” blossom into a full-fledged movement. Read on for the story behind Gaia’s success and her list of the best food gifts in Brooklyn.
Tell me a bit about your professional history, prior to enrolling at ICE.
I spent 12 years working in corporate finance in Manhattan. My last job was at an insurance company where I managed the IT Help Desk. I never planned for that to be my career, and I realized that it was time to finally figure out what I wanted. I left the job in 2009—the height of the recession—and gave myself permission to spend some time “finding myself.” I had originally moved to New York City in 1998 with the intention of going to culinary school, so I revisited that option and found ICE. I knew I didn’t want to be a chef, so the Culinary Management program was a great alternative.
What have you been up to since graduating?
I graduated in October of 2010 and continued working on a business concept I developed in class, By Brooklyn, which I opened six months later on April 30, 2011! The idea came to me during the Management program and my instructors encouraged me to move forward with the business plan I had developed with them. By Brooklyn is a specialty retail shop located in Carroll Gardens that exclusively sells goods made in Brooklyn.
Are there any professional accomplishments or awards of which you are particularly proud?
Within the first year of business, By Brooklyn received accolades from numerous media outlets including ABC News, New York Magazine and Time Out New York. We’ve been featured in every major Japanese guidebook, as well as other international TV shows and publications. The business continues to grow and thrive, and the support of the community, makers and customers has been tremendously rewarding.
Briefly describe a day in your current working life.
I’m usually in the store a few hours a day during the week, working on the guts of the business: accounting, marketing, operations, etc. Most of that time is spent in the office, but I do pop out onto the sales floor to chat with customers and catch up with my staff. I also spend a good amount of time networking. I’m a member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and attend their events as often as possible. I’m in the early stages of planning a second store location, so I also meet with real estate brokers to explore other neighborhoods and see available spaces.
How would you describe your “culinary voice”?
Simple, quality products—not just for cooking, but for everything in life.
Gaia’s Favorite Holiday Gifts for Locavores:
- Tomato Achaar
- Mike’s Hot Honey
- Ginger Syrup
- Hop Pickles
- Everything Bagel Pasta
- Local Honey
- Kombucha Kit
- Bitters Kit
- Slate Cheese Board
- Tip Top Cutting Board