NELP Client Spotlight
When Sophia Sylvester’s two children started experiencing severe dry skin that no cream or prescription could cure, she took matters into her own hands and decided to concoct her own lotion.
The products she had found in stores contained obscure ingredients she couldn’t pronounce and ended up making her children’s skin worse. Wanting to create an all-natural product for her children, she researched “healing butters and oils” and started making her own body butter at home. Miraculously, her children’s skin improved.
Sophia had been a medical assistant at a local Brooklyn hospital, but she stopped working after getting injured on the job. The unexpected unemployment gave her the time to continue making the butters at home, along with massage oils, soap bars, and soy candles. She started selling the products at her doctor’s office and sharing samples with her friends and family. Receiving widespread praise and positive feedback, Sophia decided to focus on her business full-time and knew she had to take steps to protect it.
Sophia approached the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) in 2010 for trademark assistance for her business name, “Brooklyn Flavors” as well as for some of her product names, which were based on historical locations in Brooklyn. NELP paired her with volunteer attorney Ana Alba of Alba Law Firm, P.C. Although initially there was a concern that Sophia couldn’t trademark her business name due to its widespread use, Ana eventually filed two successful trademark applications.
In 2013, Sophia found a storefront in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. She came back to NELP for assistance with reviewing and negotiating the commercial lease. NELP paired her with Matthew Schneid, formerly an associate at DLA Piper LLP, and she opened her storefront in August 2013. “He worked out a great lease for us and really fought for us,” Sophia said. “He did such a great job that even the landlord was wondering where I got the money to get an attorney from this high-end law firm.”
Sophia said that NELP “made it possible for my business to take the next step. It was smooth sailing and really great. I have recommended NELP to friends and will continue to do so.”
NELP was launched by the City Bar Justice Center in 2003 to provide low- to moderate-income micro-entrepreneurs with the legal services necessary to get their businesses started off on as sound a footing as possible. To date, NELP has partnered with more than 100 law firms, 25 corporate legal departments, and 30 community-based organizations to assist more than 14,000 clients through the provision of brief services, direct representation, legal clinics, and community presentations.
Sophia’s all-natural skincare products can be purchased online at www.brooklynflavors.com or at her store located at 820 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238.