By Simone Weichselbaum / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 5-10-12
Occupy Wall Street protesters may be marching for change in Manhattan, but they’re making money in Brooklyn.
More than a dozen savvy OWS entrepreneurs have opened a printing shop, a T-shirt operation and a tech venture – all running coop style without a boss.
“OWS has different sides. There are the kids who drum all day and piss people off. But we are trying to show people that a democratic economy can work,” said Dale Luce, 25, cofounder of OccuCopy print shop at 388 Atlantic Avenue.
Two of the businesses got their start last fall in Zuccotti Park where OWS set up camp.
Now, the budding businesses are based on or near trendy Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill with more in the works – many stashing cash aside to loan to other start-ups.
“I see twelve other businesses that can spring up,” said Darrell Prince, 35 who launched a tech coop on the floor above OccuCopy and is working with six other techies.
“We are trying to save up money for them too. We are building that into costs,” said Prince who hopes to land a lucrative contract with an upstate hotel asking for a revamped reservation system.
“At least 25 % of our profits should go to starting other businesses.”
OccuCopy biggest client is OWS. The General Assembly – OWS’s governing body – signed off on thousands of dollars since December so Luce, and his staff of six, can churn out posters, fliers, stickers, and buttons for the mass protests which have flooded Manhattan streets.
Luce has spent close to $11,000 on a slew of printers, a cutter, and a dye press, hoping to start paying his still volunteer crew “a living wage” before doling out loans to others.
OccuCopy has also done contract work for other left leaning groups like commuter advocacy nonprofit Transportation Alternatives.
“There are certain criteria,” said OccuCopy cofounder Sergio Jimenez, 25, explaining that OWS businesses are picky about which clients to choose, snubbing corporations.
Julie Goldsmith and her t-shirt making friends were a big hit at Zuccotti with their tops sporting images like Guy Fawkes mask – from the movie “V For Vendetta – and Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly game mascot.
Now the group has formed OWS Screenprint Coop on Bergen Street amd charge $5 a shirt plus donations for labor.
“They can push us out of (Zuccotti) Park,” said Goldsmith, 29, “but we have to start leading by example.
Brooklyn is a community of independent artists, and there is a need to create some roots in this movement.”