TechTown and the Rocket Community Fund have partnered to shine the spotlight on business owners and ecosystem service providers who responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we count down to the end of 2020, we will share the stories of these “Innovators” in an effort to elevate the ingenuity of Detroiters and lift spirits.
For our fourth Innovator Series spotlight, we spoke with the founder of Featherstone, Juan Carlos Dueweke-Perez.
Q: Why do you do what you, and how long have you been doing it?
A: It’s been five years that Featherstone has been operating. We’re a digital marketing and PR agency focused on building prosperity and wealth for businesses and communities of color. I think that our collective response to why we do it, as a team, is because we care. We’ve seen our family, neighbors and friends be put down, dismissed, and be underserved throughout the years. But we’ve also learned that we have each other, and we build together.
Q: How did you adapt or pivot what you do since March?
A: I’d say two ways:
- We had to seek funding from grants and loans to help us continue to move forward. We also had to shift gears and diversify our services (a goal we had already) faster than we imagined. In the process, our team grew from 4 – 6 people.
- We’ve supported different initiatives and entrepreneurs privately or through volunteer opportunities, including through Techtown’s Ask An Expert, Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week, Platica Candida (an organic get-together of business owners), Detroit Means Business, etc.
Q: What surprised you the most about how people reacted to the changes you made?
A: I’ve been disappointed by some people’s lack of time to mourn the death of many folks and their drive to “succeed” and hustle. It’s not many people, though. At the same time, I’ve been inspired by the level of empathy of other folks (and their lovely and comical cynicism) throughout these two crises. This is such a tough time.
Q: What has been the impact of your response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: As a team, every day it feels like we’re growing as a family. As a member of different communities, I’ve become closer to folks to who I didn’t imagine I’d be close to. As a friend, I can’t wait to hug my circle of peeps freely.