As the founder of local blog I Am Young Detroit, Margarita Barry made a name for herself profiling Who’s Who in the Motor City’s future.
But positivity, on its own, won’t bring a city back. Barry, a gifted web designer in her own right, had a better idea — showcasing the work of the city’s young fashion designers and lifestyle artists. She’d handle the nuts-and-bolts of running a retail operation — marketing, staffing, paying the bills. 71 POP does more than offer retail space to the city’s cutting-edge creatives . By holding down the business end, Barry’s giving these designers more time & space to keep producing.
Barry turned to Kickstarter, spearheading a successful campaign to help cover the cost of running the retail operation. So it was fitting that hundreds of citygoers and friends packed the 71 Garfield creative community last Saturday for the grand opening of 71 POP, including Midtown Inc. president Sue Mosey, Heidelberg Project founder Tyree Guyton, and Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen. Over the next two years, the storefront will showcase the creations of 71 local designers. “I think I’m really realizing the power of community,” Barry reflects. “Alone, I don’t think that I could have made this happen,” she says. “But with the support of the 101 backers from the Kickstarter campaign, and of course the encouraging words and support that I’ve received from people — both friends and strangers- – it’s just blowing my mind, really.”
Emerging designers Philip Lauri of Detroit Lives! Emily Thornhill of Homeslice and Mike Han of StreetCultureMash were the heirs apparent of 71 POP’s future, and customers were snatching up their wares in the first-floor retail space. Barry says one of the project’s hallmarks is spotlighting young up-and-comers, not local fashion’s hoi polloi. “We’re creating a pop-up retail experience and our customers are likely some of the college students around the area,” she explains, “so we’re looking for moderately priced items ranging from $5 to $100.”
Kate McKelvey is a board member of the New Leaders Arts Council of Michigan, one of 71 Pop’s main supporters. She said Barry’s project appealed to the Lansing-based board because it’s one way the arts can help reverse “brain drain” in the Mitten State. “We see this project as having the potential to create the type of collaborative community that’s attractive to young people and creative entrepreneurs,” she explains.
And McKelvey, a Woodbridge resident, says the project appeals to her personally. “It’s exciting to have such a comprehensive and collaborative resource available for local artists to launch and market their brand, and make a living pursuing their passion,” she reflects. “71 POP embodies what I envision when I think about what the creative community in Detroit can look like. ”
And don’t think this is Barry’s penultimate vision for helping remake the city — she’s got bigger and better plans for the 71 POP concept. “This two-year period of curating 71 artists and 71 pop up shops is a testing ground for what’s hopefully going to be an expanded version of what we’ve created here called Detroit Pop,” she explains, “which might include a much larger space, more “shops”, and we might even delve into food and other areas of retail.”
71 POP is located in Detroit’s Sugar Hill Arts District at the 71 Garfield building. Store hours are Tuesday thru Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 11a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit 71pop.com for more information.