BUILD INSTITUTE: Mandisa Smith-Detroit Fiber Works
What is Detroit Fiber Works?
Detroit Fiber Works is an art gallery, boutique, and place for learning. We show and sell one-of-a-kind handmade works by local artists. We also offer classes on fiber art techniques. Our mission is three-fold: to educate the community about fiber art, give local artists an opportunity to show their work, and be a part of the revival of the Livernois Avenue of Fashion. I grew up in the neighborhood and can remember what the Avenue was like. That makes it extra special for me, because I know what it has the potential to be.
What was your experience in Build Institute?
What was most valuable was the opportunity to get to know other people who were at the same stage of business development as me. It was comforting to know others were dealing with similar questions, and it made me more aware of the things I needed to know. By going through the business plan process, I was able to really put meat on the bones of my business. I was taking Build while simultaneously working on a proposal for a pop-up with Revolve Detroit. The timing was perfect and I was so lucky to have everything fall into place.
“What was most valuable was the opportunity to get to know other people who were at the same stage of business development as me. It was comforting to know others were dealing with similar questions.”
What are your most recent developments?
After taking Build I had the opportunity to do a three month long pop-up with Revolve Detroit on Livernois. Things went really well and we decided to go for it and negotiated a lease. This space wasn’t our first choice, but it turned out to be a perfect fit. We finally have a website now, and I’m receiving marketing assistance from TechTown. We also have our schedule for the year planned out, with exciting new artists and events in the pipeline. We’ve joined the Avenue of Fashion Business Association and we’ll be participating in an event called Jazz on the Avenue on Saturday, August 2nd. Our most exciting news is that we are a finalist in the Knight Arts Challenge! Whether we win or not, it’s such a tremendous honor to have our proposal make it this far.
What’s in the future for Detroit Fiber Works?
I hope Detroit Fiber Works can become known as an art destination in the community, a place where you can go to buy beautiful handmade objects made by Detroit artists. We want to provide something new and unusual every time someone walks in. I also want to grow a sustainable business, where I can support myself fully and show everyone that fiber art can be more than just a hobby. I’ve been making fiber art and jewelry for a long time, but I never had a studio or outlet for my work. I hope we can provide this for others.