North Brooklyn-based small business owner Emily Chertow has spent the past four years building a platform that promotes reflection and self-care in the form of putting pen to paper. After finishing school and beginning her young adulthood in the city, despite being surrounded by like minded individuals, Chertow felt rather alone and frequently turned to journaling as an outlet for meditative self-expression. It wasn’t long before she figured out that there were many others in need of this kind of environment, and she had the tools to cultivate it.
What began as small group gatherings in Washington Square Park in 2018 slowly grew into her small business, which now includes popup events in Greenpoint, Seaport, and various virtual events. When the pandemic first hit, however, Chertow had never done a virtual event before. With concepts like “mindfulness” and “self-care” on the rise, she knew people wanted genuine connection, and that’s what she aimed to provide. When things began to feel safe again, she hosted her first in-person journaling session in McCarren Park, where she offered prompts tailored to frontline workers to give them the extra space to process their emotions. She continued hosting classes in McCarren Park throughout the summer and hopes to do so again this coming summer season.
What to Expect
I had the opportunity to attend Chertow’s journaling class in July of 2021 at a popup shop in Greenpoint. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend because I had other plans that evening, but I knew I needed this more than a night on the town, so I canceled my plans and went. Right as I walked inside, Chertow greeted me with a warm smile and a journal, and I found my way to a pillow to sit on. There were snacks, colorful pencils, crayons, stickers, and a variety of other small crafts you could decorate your journal with. As the attendees trickled in and Chertow began to introduce herself, we all took a bit of time to personalize our journals. Chertow takes great pride in creating a safe, warm, friendly environment for her classes, as she finds it necessary to foster spaces she’d want to show up in. In short, she says she aims to make it feel “like a warm hug.”
Throughout the class Chertow guides her guests through various prompts, giving them time to write freely and then time to share with the group thereafter if they so choose.
Comfort, kindness, and togetherness are at the core of Chertow’s mission. If you’re looking for a little more of that in your life, this can be the place for you. And if you’ve never journaled before, don’t worry.
“There’s no wrong way to put pen to paper or to share your thoughts and words through different mediums. Be proud of anything you write down, that’s the hardest part — just starting.”Emily Chertow
Chertow playfully describes her journaling classes as mindful conversations, cheap therapy, connections with others & self, and a safe space to exist and be present.
She hosts weekly Wednesday online morning mindfulness sessions in addition to her popup events. Plus, keep an eye out for workshops in McCarren Park. (She’s also looking for collaborations, so reach out if you’re interested!)