The revival of Detroit may be exemplified in the new tall shiny buildings, property developments and construction projects underway, but beneath the surface are the entrepreneurs and innovators that brought the fresh ideas and life back into the city.
I had the honor of joining my class of aspiring journalists, media marketers and entrepreneurs to meet the minds behind the magic in a trip to the city.
We started off at Bamboo Detroit, a co-working space for different companies to come together under one roof and ultimately create an inclusive community to do more together. Their motto…”Detroit is for Doers. Do more together.” Co-founder and CEO Amanda Lewand shared with us advice on the startup business as well as how her experiences eventually led to the creation of Bamboo.
Later we we’re joined by the very enthusiastic and unfiltered Eric Thomas, who is not only an excellent writer but also runs Saga MKTG, a full-service marketing agency. His larger than life personality shined through as he spoke about being honest and raw and if you are then people will follow you.
But what was also important for us to understand is that with followers, there will be the haters and we have to prepare ourselves for that, because they will always be out there harping on our every word, and that’s okay.
Next, we found ourselves exploring the streets of Detroit and all of the history that comes with it. The buildings, the architecture, the restaurants, it all was so fascinating.
It’s sad to hear outsiders talk about Detroit’s bad rap when they’ve never even ventured to the city themselves. And let me tell you: Those people, they’re missing out. I found my eyes constantly wandering from shop window to building to graffiti- painted walls. Some people may think it’s up and coming, but I say, it’s here. The tour surely did not disappoint…I fell in love with every new stop.
My absolute favorite stop came next at the beautiful home of our professor and entrepreneur herself (creator of the Shady Ladies Literary Society), Amy Haimerl. There we shared a lovely meal from Bucharest Grill and had the opportunity to chat with social media queen and downright awesome human being, Shanley Pearl.
The woman behind popular Instagram @hungryindetroit shared with us her tips and tricks to how she mastered the art of social media. Captions, hashtags, aesthetic…she ran down how she went from a job she truly hated to building a career doing what she loved through simply excelling at it.
Generating a following of 13k on her own Instagram about the food scene in Detroit allowed her to generate a long list of clients to do that very same thing…blog, post, oversee and manage other businesses social media. After years of experience in this digital marketing business, she shared with us the in’s and out’s to generate a successful following ourselves. Her favorite tools to up online presence? Unum, Lightroom, SocialBlade, Ripl and more make the list to create, edit and manage content for different platforms.
The next stop took us to Corktown to visit the Sugar House, Detroit’s original craft cocktail bar started by now extremely successful entrepreneur, Dave Kwiatkowski. He spoke to us about his start in the restaurant industry and how his hard work and dedication to create something that hadn’t been done before at the Sugar House opened the doors for other rewarding opportunities. Kwiatkowski went from building the Sugar House basically from the ground up to building an entire team that now runs multiple profitable restaurants. The ambiance paired with the diverse and unique menu was beyond compare.
TechTown was our last stop where we had the pleasure of speaking with Tamara Kamara leader of the web team for the City of Detroit. Her love for the city shined bright in her every word. The path that led to this position was not always clear cut.
Kamara came into her strengths and passions after the original path did not go as planned. An educational background in finance allowed her to come to the realization that although she was good at numbers, there was no desire to make a career of it. It was through working part-time in a computer lab that she discovered the interest that ignited what would eventually become the career that she was destined for.
Here I learned that things may not always go as planned but to trust the process and to trust your heart because passion and drive are the foundation to not only a successful career but a happy one.
What I found that all of these leaders had in common was the ambition and tenacity to be different…to let your strengths guide you, to not be afraid to ask for help, to stay true to your mission and to find what other people aren’t doing and do that. I want to extend a thank you to every one of these innovators that helped me to not only come to these realizations myself but to give me the motivation to do the same.