TechTown has awarded nearly $40,000 in subsidies to help five on-the-verge Detroit retail entrepreneurs launch brick-and-mortar businesses in Detroit. Each of the award winners is a graduate of TechTown’s 2015 Retail Boot Camp. The Kickstart Awards are designed to help promising retailers launch their businesses in a Detroit commercial district within the next 6-12 months.
The Kickstart Package includes up to $7,500 worth of subsidies to be directed toward a permanent or pop-up space, inventory and/or a point-of-sale system. Judges included representatives from Detroit Economic Growth Corp., Detroit Development Fund, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. and TechTown.
2015 Kickstart Award winners include:
Mama Coo’s Boutique
Mama Coo’s is an upscale resale/ vintage boutique run by Alana Rodriguez, a resident of southwest Detroit. In addition to her resale/vintage clothing, Rodriguez also sells distinctive handmade art pieces and jewelry, incorporating themes from traditional Mexican culture. Rodriguez’s items have been sold at the Detroit Institute of Arts and she also vends at the Sunday Street Market at Eastern Market. She hopes to locate her shop in southwest Detroit.
MOR and Co.
Currently operating online and through a series of pop-up retail events, MOR and Co. specializes in providing outdoor goods for the city dweller. Owner and operator Sarah White believes that the little moments spent outside are just as important as the big ones and sells a collection of goods that encourages everyone to spend time outside. White hopes to locate in West Village or East Jefferson/Rivertown.
Reilly Craft Creamery
Reilly Craft Creamery founder Chris Reilly produces artisan dairy products, sourcing his milk from organic farms throughout Michigan. Reilly is looking to expand his wholesaling operations, while launching a pop-up ice cream shop in summer 2016.
Third Wave Music
Third Wave Music is a musical instrument shop with a strong following among local musicians and other music enthusiasts. A 2014 Hatch Finalist, the business, owned by Jen David, is set to open in the Forest Arms apartment building in Midtown in April 2016.
Tribalfare owner Ojas Alkolkar sources one-of-a-kind, handcrafted goods from her native India. She currently vends at the Sunday Street Market at Eastern Market. In addition to offering artisan goods, Tribalfare will serve as a cultural and community space, offering Bollywood dance lessons, yoga and themed events. Alkolkar hopes to locate in downtown Detroit, Midtown or Corktown.
In addition to the Kickstart Awards, every Retail Boot Camp graduate received a business services package, valued at $3,500. Companies providing pro bono business services to the RBC grads include Accounting Aid Society, Airfoil Group, Lifeline Business Consulting Service, M1/DTW, Sadek Bonahoom PLLC, Small Business Development Center Michigan, Social Coop Media and Wayne Alumni Law Group.
Retail Boot Camp is an intensive, eight-week program that prepares serious, Detroit-based entrepreneurs for the opening of their brick-and-mortar retail establishments.