REVOLVE Livernois

Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA) REVOLVE Program

Funding Received: 2013
Detroit, MI
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
February 18, 2014

View from inside Art in Motion, a ceramics studio on Livernois Avenue in Detroit, MI

Challenges Around Retail and Arts Programming in January
The polar vortex has put the freeze on retail activity and arts programming after a hot holiday shopping season for our young entrepreneurs. The snowiest January on record in Detroit posed real challenges for the first-time entrepreneurs that launched in September with our project. Our two pop-up businesses have signed permanent leases in January based on their performance and experience in fall. This was a major victory for the community and a strategy that is gaining recognition and traction across the city.

While temporary success is real, so too are the real long-term challenges facing small business development in Detroit. How do you get young entrepreneurs through this difficult season? How do you sustain neighborhood arts programming in the winter? How do you get people to come out to attend classes, events, and workshops?

Taking a New Approach
While we haven’t found the answer, we realize a new approach is needed; we are beginning to test new strategies. One strategy we are exploring is the “third Thursday” model where we concentrate programming and marketing around a single day each month, with the hopes of building habits and expectations among local consumers, while establishing consistency and collaboration among the many existing businesses. Another approach is creating online and e-commerce platforms. Many of our art-based businesses have turned to to reach new audiences.

During this quiet time, we’ve also been completing an evaluation for the first phase of our project. Lesson learned: A great deal of time was dedicated to building out spaces, and not enough time was spent building the first-time entrepreneurs, their experience, and their network pool. There needs to be more training upfront, assistance, and resources during project implementation in order to help promote sustainability down the round. This is something we are emphasizing now, and excited about opportunities to build new models for future projects.