Ashley Gibbard

The D: City of dreams and innovation

Overall this trip to Detroit was really motivating. I had been down there a hundred times for various things, but I had never really looked at anything around me. Detroit does get a bad rep and it’s unfortunate, especially after this experience and seeing how much it has to offer. It has become a city of opportunity and I hope as time goes on people start to see all the
IMG_1181little hidden gems throughout the city.

The Farmers Hand is a place I would be at all the time if I lived closer and it is defiantly a place I will be visiting again. Hearing the owners’ story of how they started in the food industry and ultimately their vision of wanting to provide local healthy food for people in the city is amazing. Rohani Foulkes and Kiki Louya care that much about the city to see what it is lacking and are doing something about it, that’s what all start-up businesses should be. The fact that they give so much back to the farmers as well is really special, and the fact that they never want to become a huge grocery store type of company because they like the intimacy they are able to have and they like being able to run their business is something I think everyone who thinks of a start-up should keep in mind.

Amy Kaherl at Ponyride was an amazing speaker. The founder of Detroit Soup had the attitude of basically go after your dreams whatever they are, who cares what anyone else says. Her story about how she ended up coming back to the city and starting Soup and all the stuff she went through and that fact that she is still pursuing her passions is a remarkable lesson and is something I will remember for a very long time.

I had actually seen Melissa Butler from The Lip Bar on Shark Tank, so it was great to meet her in person. She shared more of her story and how she started a life she thought she wanted and then realized it wasn’t at all a made a change is something to keep in mind as we are approaching graduation and figuring out where our true passions lie. Then Gwen Jimmere of Naturalicious told us her son seeing her as successful was her motivation. That was heart warming.

Brad Hoos of The Outloud Group had some really good information on the marketing side of things and it was cool to hear what he had created and his journey and a story of failure as well. Then listening to Eric Yelsma of Detroit Denim Co.  explain how he had a career but he knew all he wanted to do was make jeans and he really didn’t know much about anything else. To see what he had created was really cool.

Finally we met Garlin Gilchrist II and Tamara Kamara from the City of Detroit’s Department of Innovation and Technology. This is so cool that the city of Detroit has a program like this, that they are really promoting innovation in the city and wanting to make the city better. Again they both had interesting path’s that got them where they are.

That was my biggest takeaway from this trip was the things that are worth having, and worth creating take a less traditional route to success. They take a roller coaster ride of ups and downs to become successful, but you have to keep pushing.

Detroit seems to be a great place to do these things and I would love to explore what other hidden gems are in the city.

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