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Art in Motion is a ceramic studio and gallery located on Detroit’s famous Avenue of Fashion. After participating in Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s REVOLVE Detroit program, which matched businesses with empty storefronts, owner Marlynne Kay Willingham became one of TechTown’s first SWOT City clients, where she gained the resources needed to further grow and sustain her business.
How did you start Art in Motion?
It actually started when I took a ceramics class at my kids’ school and “Art in Motion” is the name I gave my own personal ceramics collection. Through REVOLVE Detroit, I had the opportunity to participate in a pop-up shop and later filled out an application for a permanent space here on the Avenue of Fashion. I’ve been here almost four years, and I recently renewed my lease for another three years.
Being located on the Avenue of Fashion with other small businesses, what is the importance of collaboration to you and how do you collaborate with other businesses?
Well first, I share space with Love Travels Imports, which sells handcrafted artisan wares from around the world and Detroit. We also have an association, the Avenue of Fashion Association. During our monthly meetings, we have the chance to network and collaborate with fellow business owners. We have had numerous collaborative events such as Jazz on the Ave and Ladies’ Night that have all been successful.
What is your favorite part about running Art in Motion?
I think it’s the people who come in. I have always been a people person. My background is in business, and I have always enjoyed the area of consumerism, learning and understanding why people do and like the things they like.
What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Right now, we are still a “destination place,” and we want people in the neighborhoods to feel comfortable to shop and enjoy our shops with their families and to realize going to the mall is not the only option. It’s slowly coming back, and I’m glad to be one of the initiators of this comeback.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Besides having a great business plan, having the financial resources is key. Working with reputable property owners, city officials, contractors, people who are really going to stand up to be who they say they are. Also, pursue your passion. If you are pursuing your passion and doing something you love, you can never go wrong.
To learn more about Art in Motion, visit artinmotiondet.com. This website recently launched as part of Brand Camp University’s 100 Project, an initiative to bring 100 Detroit small business owners online.