Brand Awareness

How a Detroit startup made it to the big leagues.
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Market Performer - After Temeria Heard received the Jackie Robinson Most Valuable Diverse Business Partner award in 2016, she threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park. // Photograph by Matthew Lavere
Market Performer – After Temeria Heard received the Jackie Robinson Most Valuable Diverse Business Partner award in 2016, she threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park. // Photograph by Matthew Lavere

Temeria Heard, an aspiring entrepreneur, was working as a marketing manager for a Detroit-based automotive supplier when she came across a Detroit Tigers booth at a Pure Michigan business matchmaking event in 2015.

“As I left the event, I saw a sign for needed services, and one was for promotional items for the Detroit Tigers,” Heard says. “I had launched Corporate 52 Marketing Group two years prior, and I was trying to figure out which direction to take it. Perhaps it was fate.”

Following a meeting with the director of procurement for the Tigers organization, Heard landed her first purchase order — several dozen crystal wine stoppers. The decorative corks proved popular, and in addition to taking more orders from the team for an array of branding items, Heard began working with Major League Baseball.

A year later, in 2016, her side business received national attention when the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball named Heard the recipient of the 10th annual Jackie Robinson Most Valuable Diverse Business Partner award. The program cultivates minority-owned and women-owned businesses to boost procurement opportunities within professional baseball.

“I quit my job in November 2016 to become an entrepreneur full time, and moved into an office near Greektown. As much as I loved the space, my business started to grow and in 2018 I moved to a larger office in the New Center One Building,” Heard says. “It was challenging. I had doubts. But I became my own best cheerleader, and we kept growing.”

As part of her work, Heard was invited to the annual MLB winter meetings, where she met with several teams. That experience created new opportunities to expand Corporate 52 beyond branding to include marketing, commercial printing, corporate gifts, graphic design, consulting, and photography.

The added services helped draw more accounts like the Detroit Public Schools Community District, MGM Grand Detroit, Rock Ventures, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Brooklyn Nets, The Lip Bar, and more.

“We treat each of our clients like a luxury brand, and we can create gift bags for them like the Oscars or the Grammys,” says Heard, who grew up in Detroit, became a police cadet, and joined the ROTC, where she competed in national drill competitions. She’s also a classical violinist. “My best advice for entrepreneurs and startups is to believe in yourself.”

Looking to give back to the community, she launched Swaggles in 2019, which supports local and national animal shelters through the sale of paw-branded apparel and gift items designed by Heard. “I love dogs, and the name came from combining Swag with my dog, Snuggles.”

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