THREE LITTLE BIRDS
16 Erie St.
Three Little Birds, which takes its name from the Bob Marley song, is a yoga, art, music, and dance studio for families, founded by Jenn O’Malley, who also happens to have three little girls of her own.
“I wanted a place for moms to feel comfortable dropping off their children,” O’Malley says.
Basically it’s a one-stop shop. In the past, she said, it was “hard to be running around all the time for different classes.” O’Malley says that the studio offers “unique and creative programming with a great team of teachers in a clean and stylish place.”
Originally from Philadelphia, O’Malley got her business chops working for Banana Republic in Manhattan.
“I wanted to have a job but still be with my children,” O’Malley says. “I wanted to have a flexible work schedule and be part of their lives.”
She says she found “great people with great ideas to do out-of the-box fitness for children. It’s not just a great physical workout but they learn how to be a good sport and how we can learn from losing.”
The studio also offers a princess charm school, where girls wear “beautiful dresses and fancy shoes and have a tea party where they learn about manners and respect and being a good friend.”
Other offerings include prenatal yoga, new-moms support groups, baby yoga, two-hour toddler drop-off, ballet, break dancing, and birthday and pajama parties. Companies can also rent out the studio.
O’Malley’s husband wanted to move to the suburbs but she persuaded him to stay in Jersey City.
“There’s so much to offer here,” she says. “The businesses support each other. It’s a diverse community and getting better all the time.”
31 River Dr.
If you’ve been keeping up with your stargazing you know that Canis Minor is a constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere and comes from the Latin meaning “lesser dog.” Closer to home, it’s a fabulous high-end pet food and supply retailer in the Newport neighborhood that also offers daycare and grooming.
And, by the way, there is nothing “lesser” about it. That “minor” refers to the fact that it originally majored in smaller dogs, but it now has a huge selection of cat supplies and serves larger dogs as well.
“We have customers as far north as Edgewater and as far south as Staten Island,” says owner Darryl Ng. He also has stores in Gramercy Park and Tribeca. In areas like Tribeca, where there are a lot of large lofts, Ng says you tend to see larger dogs.
For some people, Ng says, “dogs are a replacement for kids, and when they start humanizing dogs, they go to smaller dogs, which are easier to keep clean, and they can sleep in your beds, and you can take them places.”
In the last 10 years, he says, the trend has been to take dogs on vacation to dog-friendly hotels. In fact, the nearby Westin Hotel calls on Ng when a guest needs dog care for a longer period of time than just an overnight stay. Canis Minor boards dogs 35 pounds and under.
“On the food side,” Ng says, “the biggest trend in the last decade is raw foods, which follows the human market. Dogs are carnivores, not omnivores,” he says. “In the wild they eat primarily meat, bone, and organs; they do not eat grains, which require a longer digestive tract.”
The store sells specialty clothes for small dogs. “Large dogs have no problem with the cold,” Ng says, “but small dogs can’t handle extreme cold.” If you’re looking for a soft, high-end harness or “blingy” jeweled collar, you’re in luck.
A Los Angeles native, Ng got an MBA at NYU and opened his first store in Newport, where he now lives with his wife and three daughters who—ironically—are all allergic to dogs.
Says Ng, “I love Jersey City, and Newport is a great neighborhood.”
A SMALL GREEN SPACE
Most entrepreneurs would be green with envy at the way this urban landscaping company has taken off. Owner Emma Lam launched it in 2009, and now she has four part-time gardeners, a bookkeeper, an office manager, and a thriving Hudson County business.
“It grew really fast,” says Lam, who has an unusual background for a successful horticulturist. She was a performing artist, working in theater, regional theater, and summer stock in the United States and the United Kingdom. Lam was born in England but came to Massachusetts when she was four. “I hated yard work,” she says referring to her Massachusetts youth, “but loved English gardens.”
She says the English garden was a good model for the kind of urban landscaping she does now.
“My husband and I were living on the top floor of a five-floor walkup in Hoboken, and the bottom floor had a tiny garden,” Lam relates. Until she worked on that garden, she says, “I didn’t have a clue that I liked gardening.”
A lot of her friends were artist types, and when they came to visit, they’d say, “You should do gardening; you’re good at it.”
And the rest is history.
She took a number of landscape design courses in England and the U.S. “I was addicted,” she says. He friends and fellow moms continued to ask her to do gardens even though she was not “fully trained.”
She says, “People underestimate the value of design. I come up with a concept and work through that concept. I do a scale drawing like an architect with every plant, fencing, decking, and furniture.”
She employs a builder, and subcontractors when she needs them, and her company maintains the gardens. The season runs roughly from March through December, depending on the temperatures. Her clients come from Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, and Edgewater, and she has even consulted in Brooklyn.