Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shinola Detroit and DROUGHT

The Shinola Detroit Flagship store (at 441 W. Canfield Street in Midtown Detroit) is our first retail location and the first opportunity for the public to experience our full brand story—from expressing Shinola’s core values and why we make the products we do, to why we are passionate about making them in America.

By collaborating with like-minded companies and artists we will communicate our story and provide greater engagement in each product category. In addition to our handcrafted watches, leather goods, journals and bicycles, we will also stock collaboratively-produced items, as well as carefully curated products we admire.

Inventory will be dynamic, with store themes changing each month. Complete bicycle assembly will also happen on the premises, and a full schedule of community events will be programmed on a weekly basis. In addition, DROUGHT, the Plymouth, MI-based, organic cold-pressed juice company, will have a fulltime presence in the store, serving healthier food items and fresh juice.

Retail store hours are 10 AM-7 PM during the week, 10 AM-6 PM on Saturday, and 11 AM-5 PM on Sundays. Plus, DROUGHT will be operating during the week from 7 AM-7 PM, on Saturdays from 9 AM-6 PM, and on Sundays from 9 AM-5 PM.

You may be wondering what Shinola has to do with raw juice. That's a fair question. But DROUGHT represents much more than just juice. As a fellow Michigan start-up, they embody the values and spirit we uphold in our own brand. Producing organic, cold-pressed, raw juice is an incredibly labor intensive craft, demanding both passion and patience. We can't help but admire their determination to transform an obsession with high-quality organic juice into a viable business right here in Michigan. And the fact that the juice is glass bottled with a clean, minimalist aesthetic doesn't hurt either.

We sat down with Julie James, one of the five James sisters behind the company, to find out more about where the idea for DROUGHT came from, and where it's going.

Shinola: Are you and your sisters all from Detroit?

Julie: Yes. We were all born at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and raised in the metro area.

Where did the idea for producing fresh juice in Detroit come from?

DROUGHT is our collaborative effort to expand the accessibility of genuinely healthy options in the Midwest. A few of us were living in New York City and we saw the opportunity to create something of our own that also served the general public. We feel you really can't go wrong if you stick to the simplicity of fruits and vegetables.

Is juicing something you grew up with, or did it become an interest later in your lives?

We certainly grew up in a household where eating well was stressed, and as young adults we all started adopting a more compassionate and conscientious diet. Over time, we realized that many of the social and cultural norms related to diet simply did not serve us.  It became apparent that fewer animal products and more nutrient-dense veggies and fruits was the way to go. Juicing is the the latest manifestation of an age-old practice—it's a craft. In terms of creating a business centered around juice, we've noticed that slowing down and getting back to the basics is the most sensible and savvy way to operate.

What are some of the benefits of raw, cold-pressed juice, as opposed to store-bought juice?

Raw juice is alive. It's a high-frequency, living nutraceutical beverage. Most conventional juice is pasteurized (heated) in the interest of maximizing shelf life and profit—the result is a lifeless, high-sugar, low-nutrient beverage. There is work to be done to repair the integrity of juice. DROUGHT produces only premium raw juices—zero additives, no water, & no preservatives—just pure, liquid, plant-based energy.

How did the partnership between Drought and Shinola come about?

Detroit is a small community—we had some mutual friends and had been secretly admiring one another via an Internet 'business crush.' One of the things that caught our eye was Shinola's commitment to Detroit—the history, the people, and its future. Every Tuesday evening we have a DROUGHT crew meeting and we happened to sit down next to the Shinola folks at dinner. The energy was there and we connected personally and professionally. It didn't take long to decide we could both benefit from a partnership.

How has Drought been received here in Detroit?

DROUGHT is a relatively new business and we've got an immensely supportive community of people helping propel us forward. Interest in wellness spans all demographics, so we have a very wide range of DROUGHT enthusiasts.

What's your favorite place to go in Detroit?

Anyplace that combines snacking and relaxing usually makes our list of favorites. We're a simple group of gals. Meeting up with friends in the DIA courtyard or seeing a movie at the Detroit Film Theatre helps to decompress. Grabbing a falafel sandwich from Bucharest Grill and heading to Belle Isle for an impromptu picnic, and Saturdays at Eastern Market are always a hit.