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.