#DXFchallenge Winners and Highlights


Over 1000 selfies. 276 bars + restaurants. 3 months. 100 participants… and 1 winner.

Now that the #DXFchallenge is over, we’d like to give a shout out to our winners, and of course to all of you who participated! Congratulations to Tanina Mackey, our grand prize winner, who visited a total of 210 bars/restaurants out of 275 on our checklist. Wow! Tanina lives in Hope Village and is a DPS teacher. She started the challenge as a summer project during her time off from teaching and her passion for trying new places and competitive spirit helped her make it to the top. You can read a little bit more about her experience here.

We also had a runner up - congratulations to David Morrison, who visited 162 bars/ restaurants from the checklist, and who had never used Instagram before the challenge! We loved seeing his selfies get better and better. Our winner for the month of June was Rob Harris, who visited 55 bars/restaurants. Rob hosts karaoke at different bars around the city, and he joined the challenge as a way to step out of his routine and explore new places. Read more about his experience here.

You can still view the photo stream, and make sure to check out our Community Relations Director Jeanette Pierce discuss the challenge on Live in the D. We can’t wait to announce another #DXFchallenge coming soon! In the meantime, get a headstart and check out all of our bar/restaurant/lunch checklists here.


Do Something September Events

Above: The inaugural Dlectricity event in 2012

September is jam packed with great events in the city. See our list of Do Something highlights for the month below! What are you most looking forward to? 

September 6th: Dally in the Alley

An annual celebration of music, arts, restaurants and vendors in the Cass Corridor.

September 18th: NewCo Detroit

56 innovative host companies will open their doors to the public for one day of events.

September 23rd – 28thDetroit Design Festival

North America’s festival of independent design.

September 24th – 26th: Urban Innovation Exchange Conference

A convening of urban innovators and small scale projects from around the country.

September 26th + 27th: Dlectricity

A nighttime festival of art and light featuring 35 local, national and international cutting edge artists.

Office Hours @ D:hive


Are you looking for a place to live? Applying to jobs in the city? Want to start your own business? We can help with all of the above!

Stop by our office hours every week for some personalized advice from our residents, who can provide you with resources, review your resume, or help you sign up for our business planning classes. 

See the schedule below:

  • Live Office Hours - Tuesdays from 12-2pm Please email housing@dhivedetroit.org in advance to set up a meeting and fill out a housing form.
  • Work Office Hours - Thursdays from 12-2pm Please email jobs@dhivedetroit.org in advance to set up a meeting.
  • Build Office Hours - Mondays from 11am-1pm Drop-in format. Email jessica@dhivedetroit.org with specific questions.

Meet the #DXFchallenge July Winner


Meet Tanina Mackey, our July winner of the #DXFchallenge. Tanina won a night stay at a downtown hotel, and two tickets to any upcoming bar tour of her choice. Read about her experience in the challenge and what her favorite spots have been so far! 

Why did you want to participate in the DXF Challenge?

I’m a lifelong Detroiter but there’s a lot of places I’ve never been. This was a great opportunity to explore home. Instead of taking vacation this summer, I decided to stay and see everything I’ve been missing right here in Detroit.

What are some of your favorite bars & restaurants from the checklist?

I went to Cobo Joe’s today and met the owner. We chatted for a while and it was interesting to hear first hand about their developments. I also love Casey’s Pub in Corktown – it’s a dive bar but really fun inside, and Socratea – I never expected such a tucked away, quiet spot with so many unique teas! Alley Taco is my new favorite dinner spot now. I could keep going on forever.

Any memorable experiences or anecdotes?

I ran into one of my competitors from the challenge at Traffic Jam. We were both there for a group painting workshop and I overheard her talking about my Instagram! It was a funny coincidence but once we got to talking it was completely friendly. We chatted about what some of the highlights have been so far.

It’s also been great to learn about so many small businesses that you wouldn’t really know about unless you take the time to explore. And I take my son almost everywhere with me – it can be really kid friendly in the process. His favorite has definitely been Ben & Jerry’s.


Do you live in Detroit?

I was born and raised in Detroit. Before the challenge, I was much more familiar with the bars and restaurants in the neighborhoods like Cody Rouge and Rosedale Park. The challenge brought me to the Greater downtown area more, and my friends know they can ask me where to go for happy hour now!   

What’s next on the list?

Corktown and Rivertown are next. I generally write out where I’ll go beforehand, and take my checklist with me everywhere! Before going out for dinner or a drink, I’ll look at the list first. It’s really made me think about staying in the city more.

Any selfie tips? 

Just enjoy! No filter! I’ve enjoyed seeing where other people go and following the hashtag. Believe it or not I didn’t use instagram before starting this… I’m not a photo person at all, but I hate to lose. I decided this would be my summer project. 

Build Instructor Spotlight: Tifani Sadek


Tifani is no stranger to BUILD! She’s been a regular speaker at our classes, discussing the different legal aspects of starting a business. After working as a corporate attorney for years, first in Chicago and then in Detroit, Tifani caught the entrepreneurial bug and decided to start her own firm, Sadek Legal Services PLC, just under a year ago. 

“I find working with entrepreneurs to be really exciting. They transfer their passion and excitement to you,” she says. “Detroit will be revitalized not by large corporations but by empowering people to start their own businesses and employ local talent.”

Sadek moved to Detroit two years ago from Chicago. She was initially drawn to the affordability of the city, but also to the culture, sports and entrepreneurial spirit. One of the first people she met in the city was Jeff Aronoff, executive director of D:hive, who introduced her to Build. She’s been involved with our classes on and off, so becoming an instructor was a natural progression for her.

Over the years, Sadek says she’s found herself offering much more than legal advice. “People find me through my legal work, but I usually end up becoming more of a general business advisor. Its a lot more valuable to help get my clients more ingrained in the entrepreneurial community as a whole.”

From her experience, Sadek has found that there are a ton of resources in the city, but many entrepreneurs still don’t know about them. She cites the BizGrid as a great start to informing people, but thinks there’s a need for making more connections across sectors. “A lot of times different entrepreneur groups tend to stick together, the tech with tech and food with food, but these groups need to cross pollinate more. We need to create these opportunities,” she says.

Sadek practices what she preaches – in addition to her legal work, she’s president of the board for Foodlab Detroit, and on the board for Detroit Young Professionals. She’s excited most about meeting the many different types of businesses that come through Build.  “I really like the energy of the program, and seeing people from different backgrounds and wildly different ideas coming together.” 

Pilot Wraps Up a Great Year

Our pop-up retail program, Pilot, completes it’s one year run this month. We’ve had some amazing business ideas come through our white-box space next door, a few even moving on to full-fledged spaces in the city. From children’s toys to community art classes, our Pilot participants have brought fresh and innovative ideas to life and we couldn’t be more excited to see their journeys continue in Detroit and beyond. 

We chatted with some of our Pilot participants to hear what they learned from the program and find out what’s new. See what they had to say below! And don’t forget to stop by Trish’s Garage, our fifth and final pop-up, which will be open through the summer at 1249 Woodward.


(Left Photo: Crain’s Detroit, Right Photo: Curbed Detroit)

Lisa Waud of pot&box

“I was completely not expecting to learn what I did! After the program I made the choice to still expand in Detroit, but using a work studio structure rather than a traditional retail structure. It’s not as glamorous, but I’m so thankful that I made the decision and have more flexibility in my business model. Right now I have a temporary studio space in a trailer in Corktown, but I’m looking for the perfect permanent studio space. Ultimately I had to make sure the business was sustainable for me going forward, and lot of these decisions came from doing Pilot.”


Brandon Colvin of Canvas X Detroit

“Pilot gave me the freedom to focus on things like serving my customers best and fine tuning my business model. I learned a lot about my customer base, and was able to make new connections and build relationships, which is just as important as doing business, in fact, it is doing business. I generated a lot of exposure from Pilot, and people still associate me with my Woodward location. Now I’m in a brick and mortar space just around the corner from the Pilot space, and in addition to running the art studio, I opened a coworking space called WorkBuild.”


(Left Photo: UIX)

Kurt Spieles of Spielhaus Toys

“The fact that we were there during the holiday season was perfect for the concept we had. Pilot helped a lot with design and marketing, and it felt like someone had my back the entire time, which was huge. Because I never had experience doing retail before, I learned almost every aspect of retailing on the fly. Even within our first week we were rearranging our shop and making adjustments to our inventory. I think we proved this concept could work and my plans are to reopen in a permanent space either downtown or midtown, in time for the holiday season this Winter.”


Thanh Tran of Kidpreneur

“During our time with Pilot we launched our Community Outreach Program to give kids who couldn’t afford our program scholarships to attend our classes. We learned there’s definitely a market for us to be in Detroit and we built new partnerships and are continuing our efforts to provide classes at some of those locations. The marketing and media coverage from the program helped bring Kidpreneur into the limelight and we were able to keep that energy and momentum going after leaving Pilot. Currently we have a new location in Wixom, MI, and are still making plans for a permanent space in Detroit.”


Ebony Rutherford of Trish’s Garage

“The biggest challenge was understanding my customer base and making sure my merchandise fit the needs of the customer, not what I wanted. Initially, I wasn’t sure how to devote enough time to both making my own clothing line and curating the boutique. Pilot helped me realize I can’t do both and I decided to offer my t-shirts on a limited edition basis so I could spend more time on the shop. That was a pivotal moment for me and I’m so thankful for the chance to chat with customers constantly to get the feedback I need.  It feels good to collaborate with other small business vendors and help them follow their passion too!”

By popping up for two months in a rent free environment, our Pilot participants had an opportunity to test the market, interface with customers, make new partnerships, and gain the hands-on experience to decide what direction was ultimately best for their business. We look forward to supporting them in their future endeavors, and we want to thank you all for making our Pilot pop-ups a success, and to Opportunity Detroit for their sponsorship of the program. 

Stay tuned for upcoming vendor opportunities from D:hive Build and make sure to check out Build Bazaar, August 21st   - 24th at the Livernois Community Storefront. 

Do Something August Events

Mark your calendars for some exciting events coming up in August! What are you most looking forward to? For more fun ways to engage in the city, follow us on Twitter. 

August 2: Sidewalk Festival of the Performing Arts

An outdoor celebration of performance and installation art, in the heart of Detroit’s Old Redford/Brightmoor Neighborhoods.

August 7th: Soiree on the Greenway

Featuring food trucks, live entertainment, and a community art project on the Dequindre Cut.

August 15th - 17th: African World Festival

Annual free celebration of African culture and entertainment at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History. 

August 29th - Sept. 1st: Detroit Jazz Festival

One of the world’s premier jazz festivals with over 100 live acts over four days.

August 30th- Sept. 1st: Hamtown Labor Day Fest

Music, food and carnival rides in celebration of Labor Day in the heart of Hamtramck.


Celebrate Detroit’s 313th Birthday


Detroit’s 200th birthday celebration in 1901

Detroit is turning 313 on July 24th! We’ve put together a list of celebratory events happening throughout the week to bring in the city’s 313th year with a bang. Check them out below!

1. Detroit Historical Society is hosting events throughout the week, including a birthday bash on Thursday, July 24th from 6-10pm. See the schedule here

2. Ponyride - Summer open house and makers market will take place on Saturday, July 19th from 12 - 6pm. There will be over 40 local vendors present. RSVP here

3. Campus Martius Park presents live music all day on Friday, July 25th. Great local acts from Thornetta Davis to Dennis Coffey will perform. Check out the schedule here

4. D:hive Pizza Party + Bar Tour - Join us for a lunchtime pizza party from 12-2pm on Thursday, July 24th to celebrate with us! Bring your friends and your Detroit love. And if that’s not enough, you can join DXF on their 313th Birthday bar tour from 5:30 to 8:30. RSVP here.

See more events organized by Detroit Love here. Happy celebrating! 

A Chat with the #DXFchallenge June Winner


Meet Rob Harris, our June winner of the #DXFchallenge. Rob won a night stay at the Detroit Marriott and two tickets to our July bar tour. Read about his favorite spots and where he plans to go next below. Meet him in person at one of his regular spots: Northern Lights, Third Street or Big City Bar and Grill, where he hosts karaoke every week. 

Why did you want to participate in the #DXFchallenge?

There are so many places I’ve always wanted to go, but have gotten comfortable with my usual spots or make up excuses not to venture out. I saw the challenge on Jeanette Pierce’s FB page and I thought it would be a good excuse to explore more. I knew Jeanette from her days at Inside Detroit (now the Detroit Experience Factory), where I went on a couple pub crawls.

What are some of your favorite bars + restaurants from the checklist?

I’ve discovered a lot of places that epitomize the idea of not judging a book by its cover. Jumbo’s for example – it’s really plain on the outside, but when you go in everyone is so friendly, there’s a pool table and a great patio. It’s definitely one of my new favorite spots. Another is Bookies – I’ve passed by it a lot but until the DXFchallenge, I didn’t even realize I hadn’t been there. It’s a great place to watch a game.


Any memorable experiences?

Sometimes I’ll run into people I know who catch me taking a selfie or I get curious looks from the server or bartender. Everyone wants to know what its about. Before the challenge I had never taken a selfie so that’s been a learning experience. It’s a challenge in itself – to get the right angle, include the food or drink in the photo and make it look good! I’m definitely a perfectionist about it.

Do you live in Detroit?

I was born and raised here, and I live in Woodbridge now. I know how to get around the city really well – but typically I would always go to the same places to hang out every week. I live in Woodbridge but hadn’t been to the Woodbridge pub in years! 

What’s next on the list?

I’m going to hit a lot of the spots downtown. For someone who loves beer so much I’ve never been to the Detroit Beer Co. which is something I’ve always been a little embarrassed about.

Any selfie tips?

Be conscious of lighting. It’s something I never really thought about but can make or break a selfie. Try to position yourself by a window! 

BUILDers Collaborate for Success


Ofelia Saenz has a passion for Paletas. Her business, Alegria Pops, pays homage to the traditional Mexican ice pops found on every street corner in Latin America.  Her focus is on simple recipes, unexpected flavor combinations, and locally sourced ingredients.

“I’ve always loved cooking, but learning to make Paletas was like learning to cook all over again, from scratch” says Ofelia. Two years ago, Ofelia began researching recipes and testing ingredients. In early 2013 she took the BUILD class in Hamtramck to develop her financial plan and work out the logistics of production.

She credits BUILD with giving her the networking opportunities to help get her business off the ground. She is partnering with Yum Village, another Build grad, for her first season of pop-ups. “He’s filling a gap for food entrepreneurs who don’t have the capital to afford higher priced venues. It becomes an almost risk-free endeavor for the entrepreneur,” she says of Yum Village’s services. Ofelia and Godwin Ihentuge (the founder of Yum Village) met in Woodbridge, where they are neighbors. 

Ofelia has also partnered with Sarah Pappas, another Woodbridge neighbor and Build grad, to sell her popsicles at Sarah’s Fresh Cut flower stand. And she’s popped up at Common Table Café – founded by Erica Kippe, another Build Grad. “Since this is my first season actively selling, I wanted to make sure I developed strong partnerships,” says Ofelia. “The BUILD alumni community has been a great starting point.” Most recently, Ofelia joined Detroit Cooks, a collective made up of five women-owned food businesses that share a commercial kitchen in midtown. Almost all of the businesses are operated by Build grads. 


Alegria Pops at Fresh Cut Flower Stand, founded by Build grad Sarah Pappas

Collaboration among Build grads is one of the program’s highlights. In a recent survey, 52% of Build participants responded that they have collaborated with other Builders. Not only does Build provide a strong foundation for starting a business, but there is ongoing support and networking events after classes end.

Ofelia’s ultimate goal is to make the word ‘Paleta’ a household name all over the city. “I want Detroiters to go to other cities and say, “What, you’ve never had a Paleta? You gotta come to Detroit.”

Look for Alegria Pops at the Build Bazaar at Concert of Colors this weekend! And check out her FB page to get the latest updates on new recipes and pop-up events.