Five Years in the Making. Dear Detroit, we're here.
Five years ago, in the first ever York Project video, I’m quoted saying that, “All my friends wanted to leave Michigan, but I loved Detroit, that I’m here to stay.” It’s so funny to me that throughout college, I was the one friend that continuously moved away, chasing jobs and adventure. Yet, even while living in three different states, my heart never truly left the Motor City. Of course there were many factors involved, like friends and family, but it’s more than just that. There is something about being part of the comeback of Detroit that I just could not get out of my head.
York Project has been based out of my parents basement in Metro-Detroit for the past five years, and it’s been a great place to learn and experiment. I tested out my project and learned the craft; never feeling financial pressure, and always knowing I could easily put the business on hold when needed. But as of the past few months, running a rapidly expanding business from an over-packed basement was causing some serious problems. It put a large bottleneck on our growing sales and growing team. We weren’t sure what the exact solution would be, but we did know we needed a change.
We had been searching for places to move our business that we could afford and would work well geographically for our team. We were exploring grant options, and talking with private building owners, every angle we could find. The whole process was quite daunting, and moving to a new building was pretty intimidating.
We’ve been pretty quiet with our plans as of late, but in short, we did find the perfect location to take the business, and I could not be more excited to share it with you.
York Project has officially moved into our newest home in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. We are only a few blocks away from iconic landmarks such as the Michigan Depot Train station, the Ambassador Bridge, the old Tiger Stadium, and my personal favorite, Slows Barbecue.
We’ve moved into a new building called Ponyride. If you haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend that you take a minute to learn about it, as I personally think it’s one of the coolest initiatives going on in Detroit. Ponyride is a 30,000 square-foot warehouse that was purchased out of foreclosure back in 2012. It was used originally as a woodshop/workshop for local restaurants and other business build outs.
Today it is managed by nonprofit and hosts over 40 businesses from Detroit. Ponyride provides tenants with low-cost rent, a strong sense of community, and a unique platform for growth for so many amazing Detroit based businesses. On top of that, it’s some of the most beautiful warehouse space that I’ve seen, and we are so fortunate to be part of it.
Ponyride has also hosted many of the leaders in the Detroit fashion and garment production scene, including Detroit Denim, Detroit is the New Black, The Empowerment Plan, Lazlo, and the Dirt Label. We’re so excited to be part of the next generation of retail businesses sharing the space, and growing as part of Ponyride. We’re joined in our move by Not Sorry Apparel, Greatness the One, Rebel Nell, and Goatsbeard Coffee and Cafe.
So what this means to our business, is that we can finally build out our team and operations as we’ve always wanted to, without being constrained by space or geography. We know what we need to do to continue to grow, and we’re executing on that plan each and every day.
We’re working with our partners on developing an American grown cotton fabric for all of our upcoming products, and we’ve already begun an initiative to help develop our workforce in the city. To be frank, there is a shortage of trained sewers in Michigan, and we need help in staffing our production team.
We’re working with a local women’s shelter called Alternatives For Girls that has a volunteer led program that teaches women how to sew on home sewing machines. This month, we’ll begin training participants of this program, called Sew Great Detroit (also in Ponyride!) to get them up to speed in sewing on industrial sewing machines and making the type of products that York Project sells.
We’ll be finalizing these details over the next couple months, but you can expect a Detroit made product line out by early summer. We’re still planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign to support these efforts, and we’d love your support of our mission. If you’re interested in supporting the campaign, please stay in touch by signing up here.
In the meantime, we’ll continue with business as normal. We have some exciting product launches planned, as well as a busy schedule of pop-up shops around the Michigan area. You can learn more about upcoming events by clicking here.
Lastly, we invite you to stop by our new location if you’re ever in Detroit. We will have our entire product line for sale in our showroom (visible in the opening scene of the video), and we’re looking forward to showing off the space in person!
We could not be more humbled and thankful for the chance to grow in an incredible ecosystem like Ponyride, and we can’t wait to see where this move takes us. We love Detroit, and this time, we truly are here to stay.
Shop York Project online: CLICK HERE.
Stay in touch to support our 2018 Crowdfunding campaign: CLICK HERE.