Creative entrepreneurs often struggle when trying to take out small loans. Relying on the sale of music, artworks, photography, or new-to-market products isn’t a particularly desirable investment for banks due to the difficulty of putting guaranteed ROI behind creative work. Especially when tackling commissions that only pay out upon completion—a process that can take months—artists bear the financial brunt of purchasing supplies or renting studio space without much financial cushion to fall back on.
That struggle resonated with Herschel Supply founders Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, who made a financial gamble when launching their design-driven travel accessories brand in 2009. Though the label has since become a successful purveyor of stylish and sturdy backpacks, the brothers recall “sleepless nights, anxious moments, and small triumphs” as they got their business off the ground, Jamie says. “It was about taking a risk, trying something new, and understanding that failure was just as probable as success.”
Having experienced institutional underfunding firsthand, the Cormack brothers are aiming to give back with the Herschel Supply Bank of Creativity. Located in the former Brooklyn Bank building, the program offers mentorship to 18 up-and-coming artists and makers—including candlemaker Ashley Pusey and musician Leanne Chan (a.k.a Lann)—by pairing them with established mentors like landscape architect Olivia Rose, interdisciplinary artist Danny Cole, and photographer Sophia Wilson, who impart advice and help guide their understudies through the obstacles of entrepreneurship.
“Being a ‘creative’ can be very isolating,” Rose says. “Many of the recipients lack mentorship and are looking for someone to talk to and help navigate them through the road ahead. Even if it’s someone to talk out their day with and vent to. Sometimes saying things out loud provides so much clarity.”
The Bank of Creativity also offers expensive resources and supplies—audio equipment, cameras, computers, and studio space—critical to career growth. (A promotional video shows each recipient toting their new equipment away in Herschel Supply bags.) With material expenses covered, the artists can dedicate more time and energy to their passions without having to work extra hours or delay projects. “We asked [them] what it would take to turn their side hustle into their main hustle,” Jamie says. “It was important that these creators had the opportunity to sit down and speak with advisors who’ve been through this journey.”