Steps away from the Third Avenue Bridge is a small shop that brings warm memories to Amaurys Grullon and customers who grew up in the Bronx.
Displayed in the window are colorful quarter waters, Goya Adobo seasoning and Arizona ice tea bottles. All are items that immediately reminded Grullon of the constant trips made to his favorite deli every day growing up.
Amaurys Grullon, CEO and co-founder of Bronx Native, created the brand to highlight the Bronx through art, media, apparel and events. He said the idea sparked after an unsuccessful search for Bronx-based merchandise. He also wanted to offset negative stereotypes that constantly plagued the borough.
“I created this brand because I was born and raised in the Bronx my whole life,” Grullon said. “I heard negative things about my home, my people, my borough and I was not having it. So I said what can I do to change the narrative, to change the stigma and to change people’s perspective of the Bronx because I think the Bronx is the most beautiful place on Earth.”
After completing work in media and projects as a designer, Grullon decided to create the brand in early 2016. The grand opening of the store followed in late 2017 after a two-week pop-up shop.
The previous owners of the space recognized the amount of traffic and sales Bronx Native was bringing to the community, so Grullon was granted two more weeks to host events and sell merchandise.
Those extra two weeks turned into a long-term lease and Grullon was able to turn Bronx Native to a cultural hub in Mott Haven.
During Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign that eventually led to her unseating former Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, Bronx Native was one of her first stops during the campaign trial.
Following the shocking upset election, Grullon was contacted to create shirts to go alongside the release of Ocasio-Cortez’s 2019 Netflix documentary “Knock Down The House.”
Grullon said the marketing plan was a good experience for him. There was also a live screening of the documentary and shirts were given out.
“It was an amazing opportunity to work with Netflix,” Grullon said.