Last week, Hanky Panky was fortunate enough to be in attendance for the launch of Hire Harlem. As a brand that takes pride in producing and hiring locally, we were excited to hear about the Hire Harlem initiative, which aims to promote the use of local businesses owned by people of color and women in the Harlem, New York area. The group also highlights businesses that give back to the community.
The website functions as a directory to find a business, whether it be a restaurant, gym, art gallery, boutique, or salon, in Harlem. Visitors to the site can view and make selections through a map (for the more visually-inclined) or a searchable database where they can filter and view lists based on their criteria (for the list makers out there!).
The event was held at B2 Harlem, a family-owned business and neighborhood gem, and brought together members from the local community and greater NYC area. Rafael Ramirez, the Deputy Director of Hire Harlem and a friend of Hanky Panky CEO Lida Orzeck, helped build the site and welcomed us to celebrate. In attendance were the Schomburg family, Assemblyman and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake, and State Senator Brian Benjamin. Both Blake and Benjamin addressed the crowd with riveting speeches to encourage investing in the community and working at a grassroots level to affect change. As Blake noted, “there is something everyone can do to make this system better. We each bring value to this project.”
Director of Partnerships and Harlem local, Ken Miles shared his experience of finding a sermon from 1942 in a book given to him by his great-aunt as he was preparing for the site launch. The sermon espoused the importance of shopping from and employing members of the Harlem community. His awe of the same sentiment being shared nearly a century ago resonated throughout the room.
As for long-term plans, the initiative hopes to extend to other parts of New York to connect people and business in their neighborhoods. In the meantime, they are focusing on the launch of Hire Harlem. If you have any suggestions or would like to apply to be listed in their database, please email HireHarlem@gmail.com.
Lastly, if you find yourself heading uptown, check out Hire Harlem to locate a nearby local business to patronize as we all have a role to play in supporting our communities.