Detroit is home to truly unique businesses and entrepreneurs of utmost creativity and distinctive thinking. To just start a business in Detroit is reserved for days past. This next-level of take-it-one-step-further entrepreneurship has become a zeitgeist of the last decade and comes in many forms, whether it is an inventive combination of products and services, a laser focus on hyperlocal, an apprenticeship program or serving the community in which it exists.
At the Detroit Foundation Hotel, hyperlocal is represented well: the staff dons uniforms designed by Detroit is the New Black and Detroit Denim Company. In-room, private bars include foodstuffs from local artisan makers and the hotel itself serves as gallery highlighting artists from the area. Truly taking the experience to the next level, the hotel provides “an in-room, custom suit tailoring experience,” a collaboration with Detroit’s 1701 Bespoke.
At scent shop Sfumato, owners Kevin and Jane offer not only plant-derived, handmade fragrances, but also an in-house bar featuring signature cocktails based on their scents. In the evening hours, their shop transforms into Castalia where each drink is accompanied by a scent, a sensory experience elevated. The light fixtures in Sfumato recall the work of Piet Mondrian and were created by Detroit-based Leadhead Glass.
Other unique mashups of services include: a non-profit named Commons, a coffee shop, laundromat and community space; and The Corner: Grill, Bar and Game Room/Detroit Axe offering food, drink, 1,000 board games and an axe-throwing arena for practice and competitions.
There is a long list of businesses that have implemented apprenticeship programs or that have a focus on developing Detroit’s youth. Hill Harper, owner of the Fisher Mansion, site of 2018’s Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House, purchased Roasting Plant coffee roastery and café to provide work skills and professional development. One Custom City, a custom screen-printing shop offers an apprenticeship program that instills the fundamentals of operating a press, burning and reclaiming screens, managing production runs, preparing artwork and working with clients. This focus on the next wave shouldn’t go unacknowledged when explaining Detroit’s rapid momentum forward in the last decade.
There is a threading of connectedness in Detroit’s businesses; this threading is bound by shared passion, the desire to see one another succeed, Detroit’s unmatched sense of hyperlocal and the collective buzz that results from forming partnerships that take creativity and entrepreneurship to the next level. In Detroit, a creative and vast web of local business has been spun.
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