When VanTrang Manges started Green Mustache in 2014, she started with a common recipe in the food business: a good idea + the help of others.
"When I was starting out, my former boss was very kind," the then-new-entrepreneur recalled. "I was staying on for a few months helping to transition my role, and he allowed me to continue using the office to work on my business idea—even after the transition period. It was amazing."
Six years later, Green Mustache, an organic snack company specializing in green smoothies and vegan, gluten-free snacks, is part of a growing wave of food manufacturing businesses helping each other succeed at Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), a modern industrial campus in New York City. There, companies large and small are thriving on unique space, supportive management, and a built-in community.
Space to Grow
Manges and her five-person staff operate on the seventh floor of one of BAT's massive WWI-era buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront. They have one of BAT's smaller spaces—roughly 2,500 square feet on a floor they share with 10 or so other tenants.
But at BAT, a small space isn't forever, and that's a huge draw for growing businesses.
BAT's Food Manufacturing and Micromanufacturing Hubs, where Green Mustache is located, are flexible by design. As businesses grow, they can move to larger spaces within BAT.
"It's very helpful that BAT offers a range of spaces accessible for smaller companies that can't take on much space," said Manges. Then as the companies grow and their needs change, larger spaces are available to accommodate and support their growth.
And there's plenty of space at BAT. The 55-acre campus and former military base is home to more than 100 industrial and manufacturing businesses of all sizes, from small businesses in as little as 1,000 square feet to larger tenants filling out buildings' floorplates.
Beyond the space itself, there are BAT's ample amenities: access to loading docks, freight elevators, onsite workforce development, and more.
Green Mustache moved into BAT after being priced out of their original space in another Brooklyn neighborhood. But now, with the ability to grow where they are, Manges doesn't see needing to move again anytime soon.
Support to Thrive
The support she'd have at BAT was clear to Manges from day one.
"When we first arrived, none of the larger cable providers serviced the building so we couldn't connect to the Internet," recalled Manges. "Fortunately, the people in the management office found us a local alternative, which we still use today."
That management is New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), a nonprofit that operates the campus on behalf of the City of New York. NYCEDC's management of BAT reflects its mission: to grow and retain businesses and jobs in New York City.
Manges was seeing this mission in practice.
"I felt like our landlord was on our side," she said.
Green Mustache thrives on the help of others—and pays it forward—both among other food manufacturers at BAT and as part of Brooklyn's vibrant entrepreneurial food scene.
"The sense of community here is strong and can be seen in small gestures, like borrowing packing tape or sharing pallet jacks," said Manges. "It's like next-door neighbors with a cup of sugar."
But community isn't just supplies in a pinch. It can be vital to tenants' success and the livelihoods of their staff.
"There's a food tenant here whose business is seasonal, with reduced hours in the winter. So for the last couple of years, we've taken on one or two of their employees on a part-time basis during this time," said Manges. "It's a win-win-win: we get additional (already-trained) help, our friends in the building keep their employees, and they, in turn, are able to patch together full-time hours."
Beyond BAT itself, simply being in Brooklyn (and of course, NYC) has been invaluable for Green Mustache's growth, on both a B2B and B2C level.
"Brooklyn has an entrepreneurial food community where you can easily tap into a network, meet people, and share experiences," said Manges. "And there are so many health-conscious consumers here interested in trying new things."
To learn more about the tenant experience at Brooklyn Army Terminal, and about doing business in NYC, visit bat.nyc.