Locally Produced Goods
These entrepreneurs make their great stuff here, in Michigan. Sweet!
Published: July 2, 2013
See someone with a necklace made out of a raccoon jaw and you may question everything you thought you knew about fashion. But this hasn’t stopped local jewelry designer Stacy Dumoss from taking a leap in an eerie direction.
After attending the College for Creative Studies and living in metro Detroit for the last 10 years, you will now find Dumoss in her small boutique, Tooth & Nail, inside Ferndale’s Rust Belt Marketplace. “I’ve always been fascinated with anatomical art,” she said. And it definitely shows!
Whether it’s a necklace made out the jaw of a coyote or rat (Dumoss claims they have the perfect little jaws for a neat necklace), the essence of the natural world can be seen in her designs. A personal favorite are her Birch Tree Bracelets, which are treated, bent and attached to leather to form a cuff. It may be a little left-field for some, but Tooth & Nail is a must-see if you want to make a statement at the next dinner party you attend.
Chris Gorski never imagined taking one vocational class in high school would eventually lead him to ownership of Detroit GT. In high school, Gorski learned how to make silk-screen T-shirts and began giving them away to friends and family as gifts; as demand picked up, a business was born. Gorski, a native Detroiter, started his company 10 years ago, slowly introducing his designs through consignment shops. Catchy phrases like, “I’ve got people in Detroit” or “Bitch, please, I’m from Detroit,” have made his product line a hot commodity. He hand draws a lot of his designs, finding inspiration from his car collection and the automotive world. You can find Detroit GT in Ferndale’s Rust Belt Marketplace, Michigan Artisans in Eastern Market, or Art Is In Markets in various malls.
Women love their hats, as any God-fearing Detroit churchgoer will attest. While milliners aren’t as prevalent today as they once were, local mom-and-pop team Stefanie and Tyrone Dickey know that a good hat is hard to find. Founding their Detroit-based store in 1992, the Dickeys distribute their well-heeled headgear to several retail outlets as well as maintaining a Stef-n-Ty Studio at 227 Iron St., No. 313, near Belle Isle along the city’s waterfront area.
There once was a little restaurant in Ferndale that ended up becoming so well-known for its fresh-made salsa that, after some prodding by the head honcho of a local upscale grocery chain, the Garden Fresh brand was born. Today, Jack and Annette Aronson’s enterprise not only makes one of America’s best-selling refrigerated salsas, their company also makes a leading tortilla chip and has expanded into hummus and other gourmet dips. The Aronsons’ secret weapon, which seems to be the same secret other gourmet foodstuff manufacturers employ, is a micro-batch approach, which ensures the artisanal taste people are willing to pay a premium for. Still based in Ferndale, Garden Fresh also invests in its human capital, its neighborhood and the environment. The company powers local school buses with biodiesel fuel made from its recycled tortilla chip oil, and has provided grants to University of Michigan hospital and Children’s Hospital of Detroit. To list the company’s distribution would be many more pages than we have. Walk into nearly any grocery and the Aronson’s salsa will be waiting for your next party; or check the company out at gardenfreshsalsa.com.
Jill Drnek’s store, Global Detroit Human, at 4240 Cass Ave. in the city’s Midtown district is getting a lot of hype. The entrepreneur brought 12 designers from all over the state under one roof to create an eclectic and edgy variety of clothing unlike the boring crap you’ll find at a mall. When asked “Why Detroit?” She responds, “I wanted to expand the accessibility of Michigan fashion. Detroit is, for a lack of a better term, in my blood. A city that never follows the rules and neither does fashion, so the two should get along well.”
Drnek hopes to forge a relationship melding Detroit’s long history of sewing and textiles with new up-and-coming designers.
Michele Saulson is the classic example of the small-business love story. After taking a bead class three years ago in West Bloomfield, her bracelets quickly caught on among friends and family. Before long, requests were coming in and she realized she could turn her talent into cash. Saulson’s full-time job is a wife and mother of three, but between shuttling kids to friends or soccer, she has turned the sunroom of her house into its own little factory, cranking out a multitude of bracelets and necklaces.
Her jewelry features elements like antique buttons that make for beautiful pendants with a history and a story to tell. Her fall collection will feature highlights of copper, bronze and silver. Check her out at michesaulsondesigns.com.
The James sisters, all five of them, come from a tight-knit family in Plymouth. With a “united we stand” philosophy, the ladies have pooled their considerable talents to form a natural juice company called Drought. Using the Norwalk cold-pressed juicing method, the James sisters have honed their craft to create artisan-inspired beverages that cater to the health-conscious consumer. Using organic fruits and vegetables, all pressed individually, the raw juice ingredients are married according to recipe, and the final product is sealed in recyclable and reusable glass bottles. The cold press enables the extracted, pulp-free juice to be bottled and will maintain freshness for as long as 72 hours. One of Drought’s product lines is its “Wash” series, which are regimented body cleanses meant to be consumed over the course of one day. The company currently stocks its product line in specialty markets like Plum, and opened its first retail outlet inside the new Shinola store at 441 W. Canfield, between Cass and Second, in the city’s Midtown district. For more information, check out droughtjuice.com.
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