Omi

In the fifth episode you’ll meet Nia Batts and Katy Cockrel the co-founders of Detroit Blows. Detroit Blows is the city’s first ever non-toxic blow dry bar and beauty salon. One dollar of every blowout service and a percentage of the retail footprint supports Detroit-based female entrepreneurs and women entering and re-entering the work force. If you want advice for starting your own business you’re in the right place. Batts says, “Detroit is a city where we make things and a city where we make things happen,” and we couldn’t agree more. Grab a drink and listen in on these childhood friends open up about the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

This season we’re partnering with Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit whose mission is co-creating independence and dignity through the power of personal and workforce development. Goodwill Detroit works to ensure that every neighborhood of Detroit experiences the kind of renaissance that we’re seeing in downtown and Midtown. We welcome Jessica McCall, the vice president of marketing and external affairs at Goodwill Detroit, as our special co-host. We’re asking listeners to use “#WhatsGoodDetroit“ when you come across something inspiring, notable or just plain good in the city.

We’re recording in the Foundation Studio at Detroit Foundation HotelOur official podcast studio is located within the beautiful boutique hotel which is the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters and Pontchartrain Wine Cellars.

Listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts or SimpleCast.

 

Just a taste…

What advice do you have for someone interested in going down an entrepreneurial path?

Nia: I think you have to understand how the money flows through a business. I’m honing that skill [of the financial side of the business] more. That was a piece of business advice that I learned from my dad. If you want to know how a business works you have to follow the money. I think it’s important for people to be able to follow their dreams. This was very much a dream for us and everything would tell you that we should be doing other things. We shouldn’t be in the beauty business, but here we are. I wouldn’t want to dissuade anyone from that … We knew we had to bring in and partner with people that had that dexterity and understanding. The easiest way to fail is to improperly handle finances. That’s the hardest part and can inhibit people from actualizing those ideas. But also work from where you are. If you’re making money in some capacity, but you want to begin the entrepreneurial effort, stay where you are. Carve out time every week and start to build out a business plan and be a financial mentor to that project. Put steps in place so that you are not just doing an abrupt transition, so you can make that transition. Mine was very abrupt, so I don’t necessarily advise that.

What makes Detroit so special?

Nia: I always say Detroit is a city where we make things and a city where we make things happen. I really feel like having lived in New York and L.A. it can be really hard to make new things there. There’s something about the resiliency and the vibrancy of the community and people here. When we decided to open Blows, so many business owners came up to us asking, “What do you need? Can we help?” Whether it was Motor City Match or Detroit Development Fund, people are working to make sure that good ideas can exist and thrive here. It’s really special; there’s no other place that I’d be living and building right now that has an energy that is unmatched in a lot of the other cities and states right now. We are really stoked to be here.

Katy: It also has an entrepreneurial ecosystem that most places don’t have. Part of our financing was Detroit Development Fund and tapping into those networks. I don’t think you see that in some of the major markets in which people are building. People don’t need those programs in [other] markets but there’s something about the philanthropic community all coming together behind the idea of people building here. It’s also our home. Being able to come back here and do something, I think it was really important.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

Katy: My dad passed away when I was three and he was this radical, revolutionary, grass-roots organizer, attorney so whenever I get these questions I always think of him.

Nia: I would also like to join that drink. He is a legend. Maybe I could join that drink and [I think who I would bring is Prince.]  …[There are] all these stories about how before he went on the road he would come to Detroit and play music here and get it right before he went out. The radio community here is so impactful … I think that Detroit had a special place in his heart and I’d love to have him back here to play some music and have a drink.

Photography by Derrick Busman

Listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts or SimpleCast.

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