Michele and Jason both grew up in Detroit, MI. Michele's parents still live in the house she and her sisters (triplets born on Christmas) grew up in on Detroit’s East Side in the historic Indian Village neighborhood. Jason was born and raised east of downtown Detroit in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, a Mies van der Rohe development. They are both graduates of Cass Tech, one of Detroit’s best public high schools.
Two years ago, Michele began looking to Detroit to source reliable manufacturing in order to scale Michele's own design business in Soho, NY.
In Michele's shop, over 100 NY-based designers are represented, in addition to her own product designs. Designers are all looking for reliable manufacturing in order to scale. Manufacturing in New York City is unreliable and not sustainable because of the high cost of rent and factories facing relocation on a semi-annual basis.
It seemed natural to look to her hometown Detroit for reliable and affordable small batch craft manufacturing.
When Michele first began looking in Detroit, she was disappointed to find that much of the old manufacturing base was gone or fully committed to the auto industry. However, she did find that there was a wave of new and young designer/artists moving to Detroit (often displaced by the high rents in cities like New York) to start their own product design business. Thus, the small batch, craft manufacturing base that Michele thought might have to be built from scratch had been happening organically in Detroit in just the last few years.
The maker movement and culture was happening in Detroit in a big way!
It was Detroit's own maker movement that signaled Michele and Jason to create Detroit BUILT & Co., an e-commerce website, to promote designers on one platform to call attention to how much good design, innovation, and small batch, craft manufacturing is happening in Detroit. Michele and Jason believe that Detroit BUILT & Co. is truly something to build on and an opportunity to even help non-Detroit based designers to start manufacturing in Detroit. They are also looking to build a bridge from Detroit to New York between the design communities (eventually moving beyond just Detroit and New York). For now, Detroit designers will benefit from the visibility of being in NYC, exposed to editors and buyers of all major domestic and international markets. New York designers will benefit from Detroit’s growing industry of small batch manufacturing.