3 Detroit businesses turn common problems into new businesses
When a problem arises, large or small, many people go out of their way to correct it themselves.
But some people find a solution and a way to help others.
This is the path that the owners of Pillar & Pride, Cultured Diapers and Pure Prana have taken. The Detroit-based companies have separate owners, but each has turned their solutions into brick and mortar and online stores.
Here’s how they did it.
He needed vitamins around
Tyree Williams, 43, was always on the goIt was about real estate and his career as a consumer goods, and in 2020 he embarked on a journey of a healthier lifestyle.
But as his lifestyle changed, he had to travel to cities like Dearborn and Royal Oak to find the vitamins he needed.
At the time, he had a real estate investment in a vacant building in Detroit at 1004 West Seven Mile Road. However, because of the pandemic, he was unable to sell the building. So Williams and his wife, Randi Williams, 43, found a new use for the building and opened a community center selling wellness products so other Detroiters wouldn’t have to travel elsewhere to get what they needed. The store, called Pillar & Pride, opened in September. It has a wide variety of food, bath and body, nutritional supplements, clothing, and more.
“Our community is typically ignorant of some alternatives to what they now call traditional medicine,” said Tyree Williams. “We wanted to be able to create a place where people knew they could access information. Even when they weren’t shopping, they knew they could come here and look for solutions and ask questions.”
Randi Williams is a yoga teacher and wellness enthusiast. Tyree Williams knows a lot about finance. Together they created three pillars for business: wellness, education and empowerment. When customers walk into the store, they see a black and white color scheme with inspirational quotes on the wall like “Hustle and bustle until you no longer have to imagine”.
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“We both always have the idea that a spa needs to be more than just a retail area,” said Randi Williams. “When you walk in you feel like there’s something more. … We want it to be a place in the community that people can rely on to learn things, but also to offer things . ”
In addition to products, Pillar and Pride offers exercise classes, financial literacy training, crystal healing workshops, CPR training, signatures, CBD training, and yoga. And visitors will see artwork by Detroit artists scattered throughout the building. Several Detroit-based companies also sell their products in-store, such as Detroit-based African coffee brand The Bean Brothers Coffee.
“We always try to introduce our product to new customers, whether they shop online or not. We know they are shopping in the community,” said Shamone Beasley, owner of The Bean Brothers Coffee. Founded last year, the company sells over 35 coffee blends from around the world. “We’re trying to work with other businesses in the community to showcase our product and what we’re doing.”
Randi and Tyree Williams hinted at major renovation plans for the spring and plan to add more services and opportunities to the city.
“I want people to drive by and know that this is a pillar of the community and that they are proud to shop here, to support, to attend a class here, and to be proud of contributing to the overall success of this space,” he said Randi Williams said. “I want you to feel part of our family.”
She needed presents for mothers, but didn’t have a lot of money
Fate Mohammed has always had dreams of becoming a pediatrician.Mohammed, a native of Detroit who is now 27 years old, is preparing for medical school. She is also a trained obstetrician, community doula, and lactation consultant.
Early in college, she volunteered for a maternal and maternal health program, and many of the mothers she helped invited her to their baby showers. Being a student with limited resources, she was often embarrassed to attend empty-handed.
“I made up my mind to look for something that would solve many mothers’ problems,” said Mohammed. “At that time, I was taking in about 30 mothers.”
She came up with natural cloth diapers and decided to make her own, but with a twist – with Kente fabric, a traditional Ghanaian fabric made from hand-woven strips of silk and cotton. Mohammed made the Kente cloth diapers by hand and gave them as gifts to the mothers with whom she had worked since 2014.
By 2019 she founded her company Cultured Diapers, formerly known as Black Bottom’s Cultured Diapers. The diapers are not only made of waterproof and natural cotton fabric, but are also reusable – up to five times before washing. Muhammad’s problem became a cute and affordable option for people in underserved communities.
“What I see as the basis for sophisticated diapers is the normalization of cloth diapers in underserved communities through access,” said Mohammed. “We don’t have access to this stuff. We only have access to disposable diapers. The second would be to educate people. … You buy this cloth diaper, but then you also learn how to use it, like it did in the story looks like you keep cloth diapers and other things like washing it. “
Sophisticated diapers had grown into a philanthropic business selling and donating diapers. But she’s the only one who makes diapers. To date she has sold and donated over 100 diaperswell over 100. She has worked with other brands to make clothing and accessories. But something was missing. She wanted to improve her manufacturing skills and work on getting her products to the stores. So she started The Cultured Babes, a brand where she will support underserved communities.
Mohammed is launching a new line of retro and nostalgic diapers under the Cultured Babes label, representing people born in the 90s. From the colors to the playlist that will appear in order, Mohammed hopes to incorporate all things black culture into the brand.
“I wanted the mother and baby both to have an object,” said Mohammed. “Cultured Diapers is our parent brand and Cultured Babes is our baby brand. I include a hat for the mother and a diaper for the baby.”
You can now find your diapers in the MochaBox Momma, a subscription box that supports black pregnant and breastfeeding families from Shonte ‘Terhune-Smith.
Getting too hot at night kept her awake
JoAnne Watkins of Detroit experienced insomnia and overheating at night and wanted to fix the problem herself. She went on a sleep wellness journey by creating a bedtime routine and changing what she slept on.
She did a lot of consumer research over the past year, which led her to launch Pure Prana, an alternative online cotton bedding and linen shop.
“I was beginning to understand that our buying behavior (behavior) is changing dramatically, and the world around us is changing,” said Watkins, 33, an Army veteran originally from Ohio. “People are interested in how their lifestyle affects their immediate surroundings and then the environment as a whole.”
Starting the company during the pandemic brought some problems.
There have been delays in shipping from their suppliers – some deliveries took more than 120 days.
The price of shipping goods across borders rose.
She also didn’t know if people were investing in their health and sleep during the pandemic. But she knew her products would be the answer to many of the problems others face, so she went for it.
“All of our products are antimicrobial, so they don’t have as much sweat, dead skin and fungus as regular cotton,” said Watkins. “We thought this was a plus that worked for us, but at the same time (we wondered) consumers would be investing in their sleep around this time. We’re starting to discover that people are very interested in creating better sleeping habits and sleep routines – like me. ”
Their products include bamboo duvets and sheets, as well as pillowcases and sleeping masks for mulberry trees. Prices start at $ 34.75 for a pillowcase and $ 97.89 for a bamboo bedding set. A second collection of eucalyptus products is due to hit the market in June.
“The products are 100% biodegradable and recyclable,” said Watkins. “And when you slide into our sheets, they have this cooling effect … to help you optimize your body temperature.”
Watkins hopes to bring Pure Prana to major retailers as their products expand.
Connect with staff writer Chanel Stitt on Twitter: @ByChanelStitt.