An editorial hub
dedicated to the spirit of shinola.
May 16, 2019
May 16, 2019
With the opening of the Shinola Hotel came new shops in and around Parker’s Alley. The neighborhood is definitely worth exploring—in any weather. Because we couldn’t wait to get down there and do some shopping ourselves, we’re here to share with you a little bit about some of the shops and what they bring to the neighborhood—and why they wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else.
Carli Goltowski knew since high school that she wanted to work in fashion and retail, so it was only a matter of time before she opened her own men’s and women’s fashion boutique. Located among the new shops around Shinola Hotel, Good Neighbor is in the heart of the downtown shopping district, something she knew she always wanted.
“I knew downtown needed retail, and I knew I wanted to bring national, local and independent brands to downtown—to give them a platform,” Carli said. “I always wanted to see this in the city, make a convenient place for people to shop and bring quality products to them, products they love and enjoy that they don’t have to shop online for.”
To Carli, a good neighbor is more than just the name of her shop or getting to know the other store-owners around her. To Carli, a good neighbor goes beyond the neighborhood, and bringing quality brands to the area is just one of the ways Carli’s shop is a Good Neighbor.
“I do my best to source brands that are socially conscious. They all have something they’re working towards, some bigger goal,” Carli said.
In addition to sourcing socially conscious brands, Carli has also partnered with Humble Design, a non-profit organization that helps furnish homes for families transitioning from homelessness. One dollar of every purchase made at Good Neighbor goes to Humble Design, and all the proceeds from the popular “Detroit” embroidered tees and printed bandanas, designed by local artist Martyna Alexander, go to Humble Design, too.
“It’s important to me to give back,” Carli said. “I’ve had so much support in life and in the project, so it’s important to me to use my resources to give back and help others.”
While Carli’s idea of a “good neighbor” reaches beyond her own neighborhood and nearby shops, she does admit they are her favorite thing about the area.
When asked what her favorite thing about the Parker’s Alley neighborhood is, without hesitation she said, “The neighbors. We’ve all become friends. And I love being surrounded by all the new businesses and being in the middle of what’s going on.”
Plus, you never know when two girls in unicorn headbands will stroll in for a 30th birthday celebration shopping spree. (But actually—this happened during my chat with Carli and it was pretty magical.)
Nine years ago, the James sisters were all looking to go into business separately, but they did something better and went into business together.
“None of us felt like we had our own thing,” said Julie James, cofounder and CMO of Drought. “So we were really willing to explore something that was our own rather than just settle into the comforts of our current situation.”
That thing that became their own? USDA Organic-certified, 100% cold-pressed juice. At the time, many of the sisters were living in New York City when juice bars were popping up on what seemed like every corner. When they realized there wasn’t anything like that in their hometown of Detroit, they got a cold press juicer, started a Kickstarter campaign and taught themselves how to make juice—and how to make it the best. Nine years and four retail stores later, after making and testing many recipes, they consider themselves the cold-pressed juice experts.
“One of the processes we’ve done from the beginning is we cold-press all of the ingredients separately and then mix by recipe. I don’t just throw everything into the juicer and hope that what comes out tastes good. Every single juice has been mixed by recipe, bottled by hand, hand inspected—there’s a human element to everything we do.”
This is the kind of shopping experience you can find in Parker’s Alley: unique, premium products and expert, quality service. Another aspect of the Alley that Julie loves is how vibrant the area is, and part of that has to do with the shop owners that surround her.
“I love the female-owned businesses,” Julie said. “I think that my sisters and I have had lots of support and we’ve been very lucky and welcomed with open arms, but it has been challenging opening a business as a woman. So it feels really good to be surrounded by all these shops owned by women. We have all the girls here, and it’s awesome to be around that.”
At the end of the day, Julie added, it’s the quality of the product that makes Drought, as well as the surrounding shops, stand out. “The integrity of our brand is one of the things I’m most proud of. I think that if you follow our story or purchase our product, you know you can trust what you’re getting in there.”
THE LIP BAR
When Melissa Butler launched The Lip Bar in 2012, it wasn’t out of her love of makeup but rather out of her frustration with the beauty industry. When she realized how many harsh chemicals were in her cosmetic products and how many were tested on animals, she knew she wanted to do things differently. She learned how to make lipstick in her kitchen, determined to create a clean beauty product that actually works and looks great.
That’s exactly what she did, and now seven years later, she’s still creating vegan, paraben-free, nontoxic and cruelty-free lipsticks, lip gloss and liquid mattes. Plus, she no longer has to make her products in her kitchen. Now you can find them The Lip Bar, located in Parker’s Alley.
Lesley Russell, Store Manager at The Lip Bar said that one of her favorite parts about the Parker’s Alley neighborhood is how friendly and welcoming the neighbors have been. And these shops are exactly what make shopping in Parker’s Alley a unique experience.
“There’s so much variety in the shops, you can find everything from beautiful floral arrangements, gorgeous vintage and boutique clothes, organic juices and now, lipstick,” Lesley said.
But you don’t find “just” lipstick at The Lip Bar.
“All of our sales associates are also professional makeup artists who understand the different undertones of each customer and can help find the perfect shade you've been looking for, or you never knew you needed,” she said.
Their vast variety of shades makes it easy to find the perfect one, too. Lesley said that their “lipstick shade range is out of this world!” With over 16 shades of nude alone, it’s easy to find the right fit.
It’s hard to deny the beauty of the pigments at The Lip Bar, but Lesley said that working for the brand goes beyond that—she feels like she’s a part of something special.
“The brand’s vision isn't just about being vegan and cruelty-free. It's about inclusivity and representation,” Lesley said. “Being a Lip Bar employee means that I'm helping to upend this linear sense of what beauty is supposed to be. It doesn't matter your race, ethnicity, religion, orientation, shape, size or age, you can see yourself in all of our campaigns, and I think that really says something about what we're doing as a brand and where we are in the world today.”
When Fabrice Penot cofounded Le Labo thirteen years ago, he knew he wanted to challenge the perfume status quo.
“When we started, there was very little choice in perfumery for someone who was tired of the marketing tricks played by the designer brands and wanted to wear a great, creative and highly qualitative perfume,” Fabrice said. “We wanted to propose an alternative—in the perfume itself, but also by sharing the backstage of perfume creation showing the craftsmanship behind a true fine fragrance.”
Now, with over 50 flagship boutiques around the world, Le Labo and their lab technicians freshly compound made-to-order bottles by completing final formulation of the perfume right before the client’s eyes. If it sounds scientific, well, it is. But it’s also an artform and an experience. Take it from Le Labo themselves: “Our labs are like an entertainment park for the nose, and the perfume you bring home is a souvenir.”
You can find this “entertainment park for the nose” just two doors down from Shinola Hotel. And according to Le Labo, this neighborhood around the hotel is pretty unique too. Their favorite part? “The genuine feel overall,” Le Labo said. “With the kind locals and somehow a low-key vibe, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that we connect with.”
That certain je ne sais quoi isn’t the only thing Le Labo connects with. Le Labo said, “The idea of opening a store in Detroit has been in our mind for a few years because we love the history and the roots of the city as well as its aesthetics, its artistic scenery and sensitive people to craft in general.”
Taking pride in craft is something Le Labo has in common with its neighbors, but it’s more than just craft—it's an entirely unique experience. As Fabrice put it, “Perfumery is a journey of the soul but also makes us travel all over physically to find these marvels. On top of that, in every perfume we create, we leave a part of ourselves in the bottle. I think people can feel that.”
Meg Stojcevski had been doing floral design work on the side for friends and family for seven years when she was approached by a friend who suggested a brick and mortar shop near the Shinola Hotel. She thought a little store in Parker’s Alley was the perfect opportunity, so she opened Posie Atelier, a floral design shop that goes beyond flowers.
“I knew that the concept [of a brick and mortar store] would meld my favorite beautiful things: fresh florals, fine jewelry, plants, and unique home goods,” Meg said.
When Meg would visit big cities like Chicago and New York, she’d go to her favorite jewelry boutiques, asking herself, “Why don’t we have this in Detroit?” Frustrated that she and her fellow Detroiters couldn’t visit a shop to try on and buy unique jewelry without trekking to the mall, Meg took the initiative to fill the small business gap herself. Now you can turn to Posie Atelier for fine jewelry that comes from several independent female designers not yet found in the greater Detroit area.
“The shop is a great little space to introduce people to unique floral design, but not quite big enough to be a true floral studio or workshop,” Meg said. “That's where the other items come in, such as jewelry. We also carry gorgeous ceramics from three female ceramicists, Phaidon books, locally made stationary from Hazel & Dolly, a custom scented Detroit Rose Candle, and of course lots of plants.”
While the shop has a wide assortment of products, it is impossible to overlook the plants and flowers. They are certainly standout elements in Posie Atelier, and that's the way Meg prefers them.
“I just like enabling beautiful florals to speak for themselves,” Meg said. “I gravitate toward the dramatic, rare and overpriced stems, I can't help myself. I always try to let the organic shape of the florals shine through in my arrangements. And I like to go big.”
While the jewelry as well as her floral arrangements are unique to Posie Atelier, another element that is unique is the neighborhood—even better, the neighbors.
“As of right now we're of course adjacent to the beautiful Shinola Hotel, and my fellow business lady neighbors are each so inspirational,” Meg said. “I feel so lucky to be sharing a retail environment with them. I also love the community in Downtown Detroit. The people who live and visit the area are warm and so supportive of small businesses.”
Visit Parker’s Alley and the surrounding neighborhood shops to see what other interesting things are happening in the neighborhood. Don’t forget to visit Mad Cap for coffee, Velvet Tower for vintage clothing, Detroit Is The New Black (coming soon), Queen’s Bar for drinks and eats, the Brakeman for craft beer and Penny Red’s for fried chicken.