November 6, 2018
In a typical work week, Erik Williams is monitoring sales, marketing product, taking orders, checking inventory, and preparing to ship new merchandise for his online business. His startup company is just a few months old, and Williams is wearing all the hats of a brand new business owner - but things didn't come easy.
The idea started around the kitchen table ten years ago. Williams and his family were brainstorming ideas for starting a new business. The goal was to create a line of apparel that would make a positive statement about the city of Detroit.
With great anticipation, the family sought to put their vision into motion. However, the challenges that arose were unexpected, so were the unforeseen circumstances that would threaten to derail their pursuits.
When Detroit Made Inc. was launched in 2018, Williams credited the power of faith with his family's ability to conquer hardship. Life had thrown him a curve ball. One of Williams' family members had received an unexpected diagnosis of stage 3 cancer. Another life-threatening illness with a second family member had followed.
Plans for a business had been placed on the back burner for quite some time, but Williams never gave up hope of accomplishing the family dream. He kept believing things would get better - and they did.
Both family members survived their illnesses with miraculous outcomes. The potentially deadly cancer was gone. The other severe illness was healed - and though remnants of Williams' personal battles still remained, he chose to pull his pursuits back into focus. Teaming up with family members once again, Williams set out to accomplish his desired task.
His first batch of T-Shirts rolled in during the warm weather season, bearing a statement of pride about the people of the city - "Detroit Made, Real City Real People". The positive reaction from Detroiters has given Williams a great sense of gratitude. He is also thankful for having the personal strength to push through obstacles and bring his merchandise to the market.
"Our brand speaks to the success that all Detroiters have inside of us”, said Williams. “It represents the heart of the city and the community we love".
Williams' daughter and business assistant, Taylor Clark, says she is excited about seeing their vision unfold. She also expressed the importance of focusing on the good things about the city.
"Often times I hear people saying "there's nothing in Detroit", or "I can't wait to leave", said Clark. "But that stems from the media's negative representation of our city, and the citizens giving up, because they start to believe it. We have to change that. We must highlight the positive things and be involved in its renaissance."
The web-based apparel company has rolled out a line of hoodies for the fall season, and soon plans to expand, adding hats and athletic gear, but this is only the beginning for Detroit Made, Inc.
“Our long term vision is to build something that employs creative minds and to manufacture our own products”, said Williams. He also expressed the desire to add a philanthropic entity with scholarships and other endeavors to help strengthen the Detroit community.