I am a native Detroiter who is passionate about creating art in the city and helping others to create art. I believe in the power of art to transform lives. I grew up in the same neighborhood where my business is located. I grew up walking down this street and peering into the windows of the businesses, never imagining that one day I would actually own a business on this very same street. My dream for the future is for my business to be successful, to be able to hire other members of my community, and to be able to share my art-making talent more widely.
Detroit Fiber Works is a fiber art studio, gallery and gift boutique. We started this business because we won a contest! The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation sponsored a contest asking for new business ideas for this area, which once was a prime shopping destination in Detroit. We are fiber artists, so we wanted to start a business where we could feature fiber art by local artists, as well as artwork in other mediums.
We have a couple of big challenges. One challenge is that this business district does not have a lot of walking traffic yet, even though it is surrounded by very stable neighborhoods. That is beginning to change, but it is still a challenge. Another challenge is that we haven’t been able to afford advertising to get the word out that we are here.
Since we opened, the accomplishment we are most proud of is winning the Knight Arts Challenge, to “engage and enrich communities through art”. We will teach free fiber art workshops to children, teenagers and adults in our community, and use the artwork in an outdoor art installation. We are very excited about our project because we will be able to spread awareness about what fiber art is, provide opportunities for inter-generational collaboration, and beautify our environment! We want to grow Detroit Fiber Works to be a successful business with employees from our neighborhood.
With a KIVA loan of $5,000, I can purchase a felt rolling machine which will help me to increase my productivity. The fiber art I specialize in is called felting. It’s a very labor intensive process which involves rolling wool fibers repeatedly until they become fabric. I make wearables, like jackets, dresses and hats, as well as home accessories, such as felted bowls, table runners and wall hangings. I have broken both of my wrists since we opened, and this has negatively affected my productivity. With a felt rolling machine, I can shorten my production time, and make more products for sale.
Paid advertising will help us spread the word that we are here and let people know about all that we have to offer. This money will also allow us to make outright purchases of artwork from local artists. Currently, we are selling on consignment, which is more expensive than purchasing.