On March 24, we got together and headed to Detroit to meet so many awesome entrepreneurs and listened to their stories and experiences. They are all great people pursuing their dreams and I really learned a lot from them.
Kiki Louya, The Farmer’s Hand — Community Engagement
Kiki Louya is the co-founder of the Farmer’s Hand – a store combined with coffee, tea, brunch, and grocery shopping. She talked about why she started up this store and what is her long-term goal. There wasn’t a grocery store in the immediate area, so they thought about opening a store to fulfill the residents’ need. This is a kind of community engagement – thinking about what people really need instead of how to make more money. I think every entrepreneur should care more about what their business can bring to people and bring to the society because this is your corporate social responsibility.
When we asked about how the name of the store was created, Louya’s answer really impressed me. She said this name gives you a scene where farmers are working very hard and bringing all the products to you so that the store becomes a channel for people to enjoy the local agricultural food directly.
Overall, their goal is to serve the local community by providing 100 percent local, Michigan-made products. They also give a higher profit margin back to the farmer which is triple the national average to support Michigan agriculture and the farmers.
Melissa Butler, Lip Bar — Do What You Love
Melissa Butler is the co-founder of the Lip Bar. Butler actually worked on Wall Street for four years and hated her job. While looking for new career options, she thought about how she complained with the beauty industry because she couldn’t find the lipsticks that match her skin tone. So she decided to start up her own business to fulfill people’s special needs in terms of the different skin tones.
The biggest take-away from her story is don’t limit yourself and try what you are passionate about. While talking about the Lean Startup Model, there is a build-measure-learn circle. I think this also applies to our career paths because some people really don’t know where they gonna go career-wise. So it’s really important for young people to be open-minded and adjust your career goals all the time.
Eric Yelsma, Detroit Denim — Testing Your Product Makes it Even Better
Eric Yelsma is the founder of Detroit Denim – a hand-made jeans factory store. The reason for him to start the business is simply he loves jeans. He said most men don’t know how fit is fit when choosing jean
s and he wants more people to get their jeans that fit them well.
At the beginning of
his startup, in order to maximize the customers’ satisfaction, he would test and measure his products again and again by collecting feedback from his customers and tried to make the best jeans for everyone. That’s a great example of the Lean Startup Model.
Besides of that, Yelsma also emphasized that as a startup founder, he has to wear so many hats at the same time – apparel, photography, social media, marketing, branding. In this way, you’ll be in touch with so many awesome people from different fields and you can learn from each other and build even better products.