When Harlem Hops founders Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris, and Stacey Lee opened their doors last month, there were no doubts that they had struck gold. The three brought years of experience, passion for the project, and the hustling spirit needed to get it done.
Kim, Kevin, and Stacey all have full-time jobs and tons of other outside responsibilities, but that was not going to stop them from getting this done.
Stacey cites that “having a team to support each other” has been one of the factors for their success. When one of these outside forces needs their attention, they “try to lean on each other” she says.
Their abilities to lean on each other and trust one another formed because of the passion for what they are doing. Eighteen years ago Kim told a friend that she was coming back to Harlem and opening a business in the community. After making this dream come true through Harlem Hops, she said,
“It feels good to come back and give something to everybody.”
That “everybody” includes the growing number of new faces moving into Harlem neighborhoods in the form of gentrification. You can’t deny it, Harlem, like so many other neighborhoods in New York and other cities across the country, has been hit pretty hard with gentrification.
Along with the new faces, came a number of new businesses that have also increased in Harlem. They usually come in the form of coffee shops, wine bars, and other “upscale” businesses that push out the longstanding mom and pop shops.
Instead of combatting the newcomers, the Harlem Hops founders realized their new spot should be a place where “ALL Harlem” residents can stop by and enjoy.
This mindset has already proven to be a success. The beer bar, located at 2268 Adam Clayton Powell Junior Boulevard (between 133rd and 134th Street), had already become a favorite spot amongst neighborhood locals.
Why not have a space where everyone can feel at home? As Kim told Kulture Hub,
“We’re all on the same subways together, so why can’t we all live together?”
Besides putting it on for the neighborhood the team has an uncanny love for beer, especially Kevin. Like so many other entrepreneurs, Kevin has turned his passion into a business.
Kevin urges young entrepreneurs to “find something you love and stick with it.” This advice holds true for what ever you love doing. Whether it’s photography, art, food, music, or any other passion project. Just stick with it.
Kim added to this notion by saying,
“If you have this desire in your heart and you have to get it out, there’s no option.”
She equated the desire to a musician that has a song that needs to get out, saying “you’ll find a way.”
Between undesirable business partners, finding the right location, and other hurdles, doubters might’ve written off Harlem Hops years ago, but there was nothing that was going to stop this trio from seeing this through.
Now with their early success, the Harlem Hops family is looking to inspire a new age of entrepreneurs. Kevin, Kim, and Stacey have set up a scholarship program that will send high school graduates from Harlem to communities to attend HBCUs, where the three founders got their start.
They don’t plan on stopping there. When asked about additional plans for helping young entrepreneurs, Kim told Kulture Hub, “If we’re in a place where we can help someone else establish themselves, we are going to do that.”
The three do recognize that their path is a special one. Stacey often sites that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. However, she does encourage young people to “figure out what’s your purpose.” Their purpose has always been Harlem Hops and we should all be thankful to them for bringing it to us.
Just check Harlem Hops out once and you’ll understand why this place is built for success. The hip and stylish space is similar to a lot of the new spots opening up around the city, but the ownership is what really sets it apart from the rest.