Martha Stewart American Made Finalist 2014

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Tell us about your business.

Detroit Fiber Works began in September, 2013. We are located in Detroit on "The Avenue of Fashion" which was once a thriving area of luxury retail establishments. We won a local competition to help revitalize the area, which gave us the opportunity to "pop-up", and now we are permanent! Our "brand" is handmade, one-of-a-kind, and local. We show and sell our own work, as well as the work of other artists. We also operate as a gallery, with exhibitions of "wall art" that change monthly. And last, but not least, we teach fiber art techniques in a fun, no-pressure atmosphere, in an effort to answer the question many people have: "What IS fiber art?" Detroit Fiber Works is a magical space, filled with beautiful objects. Our goal is to bring more beauty to our community. Our product range is diverse, but felted objects take center stage. The felting process involves merging wool fibers together, or into other fabrics (usually, for me, silk gauze). Each piece is unique.

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

Detroit Fiber Works is located in an area known as “The Avenue of Fashion,” once a top regional destination for luxury shopping. Here you will find artwork by local artists gracing the walls and locally made clothing, jewelry and home accessories. The space is inviting and relaxing, and at the same time, stimulating and intriguing. There is a found-object chandelier that captures everyone’s attention, and painted graphics on the walls reminiscent of vintage Scandinavian floral designs. Through a door behind the gallery/boutique is our studio space, where we design and craft our work, and where we hold our “Fiber Art Parties,” teaching fiber art techniques to small groups. Our offerings have included Felted Scarves, Felted Wish Bowls, Felted Pouches, Painted Pillows, etc. In addition to showing and selling one-of-a-kind artwork, and teaching about fiber, Detroit Fiber Works is also a community space, hosting occasional gatherings and discussions.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by nature, by other artists, by music, and by this force inside of me that compels me to be a maker. I am inspired by the colors of flowers and leaves and sunrises and sunsets, by the shapes of shells and stones, by the rough texture of tree trunks and the smoothness of a baby’s skin. I am inspired by great designers, especially those whose work is elegant and timeless. I am inspired by music, especially jazz, because in many ways, my work is very improvisational – I like to go with the flow, and while I do begin with a design in mind, I love to let my work take me where it will. I am inspired by the knowledge that there are many creative people who, because of unfortunate circumstances, have no opportunity to create, and I am inspired by the people who find a way, despite unfortunate circumstances, to create anyway. I am inspired by my Dad, who is no longer physically here, but who influenced me immensely by his great love for making.

What makes your business stand out?

Our business stands out because we are the only shop in Detroit where you will find exquisite products that are exclusively handmade, exclusively by Detroiters. We are also the only shop that is a combination gallery space/boutique/learning center, with a focus on community enrichment. And last, but not least, we are the only shop where fiber art is primary.

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

Seek to learn from others, but never be afraid to follow your intuition. Be brave enough to try – you just might succeed! But that can only happen if you TRY.

What does American Made mean to you?

American Made means made by Americans, in America. American Made means made with integrity, ingenuity and commitment to the highest quality.