By Dan Guarino
From their color-splashed logo to lively events and spirited, open meetings, Rockaway Creates is making its mark on the peninsula.
Their aim? To promote and connect individuals and small businesses, develop and showcase local arts and artists, and both build and bring in new business, supporting enterprises all up and down Rockaway.
The non-profit, Rockaway Creates, says co-chair Samantha Cintron, “is everything. It is a creative, welcoming, supportive group focused on helping businesses grow and individuals create and bringing the community together.”
As business owners, entrepreneurs and creative people themselves, its founders and prime movers know the challenges and possibilities firsthand.
Cintron describes her role as “assisting in all areas of making Rockaway Creates the best community group ever.” Cintron is a business owner herself, as the founder of Nurture U Wellness, LLC, “a one-stop shop to health and healing in Rockaway Beach, offering massage therapy, acupuncture, mental health services and crystals.” She opened a brick-and-mortar location in 2016, after seeing massage therapy clients since 2006.
Chairperson Dana Humphrey notes, “I’m a life coach, and an artist, and a yoga instructor at Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach.” Humphrey is also an author, dancer, NYC Business Solutions course instructor and Dance Parade New York Sponsorship Director.
Bringing her financial acumen to the table, treasurer Galit Tsadik explains, “I own a virtual CFO (Chief Financial Officer) company and provide financial wellness coaching. My business is Tsadik G Management LLC, (doing business as) ‘Financial Sharktress.’”
As owner of The Iron Academy, Shane Kulman “helps passionate creatives ‘strut the stage’ of their choosing to their next level. I am the ‘scribe’ on the executive board,” she said. Besides conducting workshops and coaching individuals for creative and business success, Kulman also writes The Rockaway Times’ ‘Dear Enchantress’ advice column.
Although from all different backgrounds, the group has one mission. “We stand for one Rockaway, that’s not divided by neighborhood, or uptown or downtown,” Humphrey said.
Expanding that inclusivity is what sparked the development of Rockaway Creates, growing out of the Ladies of Business Rockaway Beach (LBRB) group.
“The Rockaway Creates legacy began January 2023,” Kulman explains. “It was formerly Ladies of Business Rockaway Beach, which began in 2017. During the pandemic, it became obvious there needed to be a change to be more inclusive and to have a new, updated energy.”
Cintron adds, “One evening on the boardwalk, we were talking, coming up with new ways to expand on what was created by LBRB. Rockaway Creates came up as an option for the new name, and it brought us all so much excitement”
It’s “the evolution of Ladies of Business Rockaway Beach,” Tsadik notes, “We’ve expanded past being for ladies only and wanted to include everyone that shared our values. We unveiled our new name and message this year. We welcome people of all faiths, ages, politics, genders, races and sexual orientation.”
“We wanted a name change to be more inclusive,” Humphrey says, “And welcome people, men and women, and not just business owners but creatives as well.”
Indeed, their hallmark lively meetings have so far brought together interesting and colorful groups of brick-and-mortar and online business people, artists, writers, service providers, entertainers, entrepreneurs, producers, support professionals and more.
Meetings often lead off with an opening question for each participant or small group interactions to break the ice and get people to talk about their offerings, projects and ideas. This gives each a forum to promote what they do and offers a wide range of opportunities to network and/or share resources.
To further promote peninsula businesses, meetings are held in different Rockaway venues each month to give them more exposure, introduce potential new customers and spread crucial word of mouth. So far, they’ve included Jameson’s Pub on Beach 129th, Coastal off Beach 108th Street and they held a pop-up art and film exhibition at Beach Dunes Eats and Arts Café at Beach 45th Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd. One recent meeting/workshop at the Rockaway Brewing Company drew more than 100 interested people.
Their March Meetup, themed to celebrate International Women’s Day, will be Thursday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. at The Rose Den on Beach 116th Street. On May 6, they’re planning a networking event for local business owners.
“Our goal is to host creative, fun, supportive events that will bring people and community together,” says Cintron, including planning workshops, dance parties, fundraisers and inviting guests to speak on business, art, coaching and more. “The possibilities are endless.”
Coming up are headshot and promotional reel workshops, a multigenerational community mural project and, Kulman says, “a summer program that is full of fun art making and business creating!”
Even while developing in-person and highly active social media platforms giving individuals greater opportunities to promote/share what they offer, Rockaway Creates has its sights on further horizons.
“We are currently looking for grant writers to be able to access the capital to be able to do bigger projects for the community,” Tsadik says. Also, they are working with local and other commerce groups and officials to bring in business opportunities and facilities to create spaces for co-working and art making, and even things like industrially equipped and approved kitchen spaces so home food preparation, baking and catering services can move into bigger markets. And Rockaway Createsis looking to play a much larger role within Rockaway’s art scene.
So far, even in a short time, Rockaway Creates is already making a splash and living up to its name!