From fashion queens to beauty mavens, meet the entrepreneurs taking Detroit by storm.
By Hanan Azom
Detroit has always been fueled by ambition (see: the auto industry, Motown, etc.). And when it comes to the city’s female entrepreneurs, that’s doubly true — especially now. According to the ninth annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report released in September, the city saw the highest growth rate of female-helmed businesses of any metro region in the United States, with an 88% spike since 2014.
Here are five women behind the phenomenon.
1. Darian Cook, 12th & Viv
A licensed esthetician with a passion for beauty, skincare and home decor, Detroiter Darian Cook started 12th & Viv as a way to channel her creativity (and to create the long-burning candles and mediocre body scrubs she kept buying). Her company, which has been featured in British Vogue, churns out everything from handmade candles and scrubs made with organic oils to “hangover remedy” spray (which contains detox-friendly scents). Look for her products at Detroit’s Foundation Hotel and TEN Nail Bar locations. 12thandviv.com
2. Taylor Bolleber, Bird Bee
Taylor Bolleber is the founder and creative director of Bird Bee, a Detroit-based boutique and online store that caters to “the expressive, edgy soul,” according to its website. Before starting Bird Bee, Bolleber worked in advertising — a skill that served her well, as the company generated buzz (pun intended!) via social media and exclusive events before opening its first brick-and-mortar store in Detroit in 2015. shopbirdbee.com
3. Humayra Bobby, Boubi Skin
Humayra Bobby is the Bangladeshi-American entrepreneur behind Boubi Skin, a skincare line that specializes in organic, vegan and alcohol- and cruelty-free products — all of which are handmade in Detroit. (They’re eco-friendly, too, using only glass bottles instead of plastic.) Humayra, a Hamtramck native, wears her roots with pride. Case in point: Her Roz-Afza facial mist is named after a traditional rose-flavored beverage popular in South Asia. boubiskin.com
4. Carli Goltowski, Good Neighbor
With her downtown Detroit store, Good Neighbor, Michigan native Carli Goltowski is on a mission to outfit the city’s men and women in mindfully sourced, ethically manufactured clothes. Goltowski, who holds a fashion design and merchandising degree and has worked as a buyer for companies like Shinola and Kohl’s, carries clothing and accessories from companies that share her vision, from mega-brands like Free People to local lines like the York Project. “Hence the name ‘Good Neighbor,’” she told SEEN earlier this year. “I have a lot of brands that have either a bigger mission and they’re supporting women makers, or they’re giving back to organizations,” she says. “I do my best to carry brands that have a bigger meaning.” shopgoodneighbor.com
5. Melissa Butler, The Lip Bar
After years of feeling let down by the beauty industry — particularly its practice of making cosmetics loaded with unnecessary chemicals, and the lack of lipstick shades — Melissa Butler founded the Lip Bar, a brand that prides itself on vivid colors (everything from blue and purple to more traditional pink) made with natural ingredients. Butler, who used to work on Wall Street, started making lipstick in her kitchen — then eventually graduated to a full line of products, including bronzer, eyeliner and foundation. Less than years after she was rejected on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” you can find Butler’s products at her Detroit store, online or at a Target near you. thelipbar.com