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Eco-minded cleaning co. in Plymouth expands

When Nicole Mezel-Bernath got into the organic cleaning business in 1996, organic was not nearly so mainstream.

As time went on and her customers wanted clean homes without the chemicals, her business, Nicole's TLC Cleaning, grew.

Nearly 20 years after expanding to five cities near her company's home base of Plymouth, she's now adding a South Lyon`office as her two-person cleaning teams take on more residential accounts. The office in downtown South Lyon opened in early November.

"There is a need out here," Mezel-Bernath says.

She says it's a desire to keep chemicals out of the home that's driving the business and creating jobs for her employees.

Instead of using toxic chemical products, Nicole's TLC Cleaning cleans with substances such as tea tree oil, citrus solvents and essential oils.

"We think simple choices in cleaning products can make a big difference in your family's health and our communities," she says.

Source: Nicole Mezel-Bernath, founder and president, Nicole's TLC Cleaning
Writer: Kim North Shine

Super heroes & Santa part of downtown Ferndale ice festival

Businesses in downtown Ferndale are celebrating the holidays and hoping to put some muscle in their sales by throwing an ice festival that showcases super heroes.

More than 50 ice sculptures will be on display outside of businesses throughout downtown for The Holiday Ice Festival Saturday, Dec. 14, and visitors can go to the North Pole at Schiffer Park on W. 9 Mile and meet reindeer, have hot chocolate, write letters to soldiers and more.

Santa will start the festival at 10 a.m. with an appearance on a fire engine and have lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. A heated trolley will ferry riders to and from shops and restaurants throughout the day. There will ice carving demonstrations, carolers, pictures with Santa, and running at the same time as the festival will be the Saucy Social & Food Truck Rally on Vester Street.

Besides giving visitors a fun holiday outing, the festival is meant to stoke business activity by pulling in customers with holiday shopping lists, says Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority.

Source: Chris Hughes, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Pierogi Gals' pierogi take off in Metro Detroit stores

Pierogi Gals, a fledgling business based in Grosse Pointe Woods, got its start like so many food businesses do: from a family recipe.

For many years the pierogi-making fell to the family matriarch. When she became terminally ill her daughters, Karen Andrews, Victoria Les and daughter-in-law Helen Les, realized they should learn from the master before she was gone.

Eventually they were giving away dozens and dozens of pierogis until they finally heeded repeated advice that they should sell their family's version of Polish dumplings.

"People would ask for them and we'd say sure. We'd give them as gifts. Our list kept getting a lot longer and longer. Since people kept saying,, 'These are so good you should sell these,' we thought what the heck. I was getting close to retirement, my sister was getting close to retirement.

"That was 2011…it took us a couple of years before that to figure out how to start a businesses, what licenses we needed, what did we have to do. We'd never done anything like this."

The trio -- two of them teachers, the other a computer tech -- initially sold pierogi online and by phone orders. It didn't take long before they were in the freezer case of the first store, Oxford Beverages in Grosse Pointe Woods. They got major help from Michigan State University's Product Center and also from MSU packaging students who helped them correct their original, less-than-ideal container.

Once the business was going and they were selling pierogi at farmers markets and such, more stores came calling: three Randazzo's markets in Macomb County and more recently Holiday Market in Canton.

Now suddenly, sort of, the commercial kitchen and mixer where they make several varieties -- their family's favorite farmer's cheese, sauerkraut and mushroom; potato cheddar; redskin truffle; spicy potato cheddar; and seasonal apple and blueberry -- are no longer large enough and they're looking for more space, more supplies and help.

"We're just amazed at how it's gone, and we don't know how far it will go," she says," but it's been a wonderful experience so far."

Source: Karen Andrews, co-founder, Pierogi Gals
Writer: Kim North Shine

"Spiritual revolution" stokes Boston Tea Room expansion

When the Navarre sisters and their mother decided to open a second spiritual services store in 2009 in downtown Ferndale, friends and acquaintances told them they were crazy, that there was nothing good in the cards for such a specialized business during such a stall in the economy.

They were wrong about the Boston Tea Room, which has a yoga studio in Wyandotte, a meditation practice in Ferndale and many other services, including  tarot card, tea leaf and other readings, and its future.

"Within two years our Ferndale store was matching the sales of our Wyandotte store without pulling any business from there," says Heathleigh Navarre, one sister in a sister-sister-mother team that runs Boston Tea Room. 

Just short of its five year anniversary in Ferndale, the Boston Tea Room in Ferndale  is proving the naysayers wrong by moving into a 3,000-square-foot space -- more than double its previous spot -- to keep up with demand.

"We're a destination spot," says Navarre. "People drive from Holly, Saginaw, Kalamazoo."

She is a certified meditation specialist, a tarot card and mediumship reader. Her sister, Vanessa Navarre, is a yoga instructor, and their mom, Carole Navarre, who took over the family business in Wyandotte about 18 years ago, is the one who makes sure the customers and staff are happy. Each shop has 8-10 readers on staff.

"We've grown organically by responding  to customer demands and feedback" says  Heatherleigh Navarre. "When we decided to add a second location I don't f anyone was thinking about the future. We were growing pretty quickly. This was not one of those entrepreneurial five-year plans. We were just naturally responding to the market."

And even with the economy in a downturn, she says, the number of people looking for spiritual healing, self-discovery, and internal analysis kept increasing.

"It's part of a spiritual revolution," she says. "People still want products, but they want a product with meaning, something that goes beyond a gadget."

Source: Heatherleigh Navarre, co-owner, Boston Tea Room
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Royal Oak going to the gourmet dogs

The new year will welcome at least one new restaurant to downtown Royal Oak.

Detroit Dogs will serve gourmet hot dogs made with Dearborn franks and buns made in a Hamtramck bakery alongside other Detroit-bred products: Better Made chips and Faygo drinks among them.

Hiring and renovations on the space at 200 W. Fifth Avenue are underway and expected to be completed in early January.

The owners bring with them extensive restaurant experience in Monroe County and were asked by local investors to roll out the gourmet dog concept in metro Detroit.

Source: City of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Abundant Living art gallery adds to downtown Wyandotte's biz line-up

Wyandotte, with its annual art fair that draws thousands, is becoming an art-lovers destination all year long with yet another downtown gallery opening.

Abundant Living Gallery opened last month at 113 Elm Street. It's a place for collectors, gift-givers and home decorators. Owner Pam Riley sells paintings and sculpture in wood, metal and concrete from a West Michigan artists along with photos, jewerly and other creations by local artists and artists in other parts of the world.  All are handmade and have a story to tell, says Riley. One of the best parts of being a gallery owner, besides meeting customers, she says, is getting to know the artists.

"Every chance I get, I go to where they create their work, their studio or their home," she says. I'm don't want to make a pest of myself, but I want to pass on their stories to the people who come to the gallery. I think the story behind the art is what makes it meaningful."

Riley sees downtown Wyandotte, known for its annual art fair that attracts thousands of metro Detroiters, as an ideal place to show and sell works of art.

"I think Wyandotte's is the second largest art fair in the state," she says. "There's a lot of interest here in art and a lot of word of mouth going out."

Hers is at least the fourth gallery in downtown Wyandotte, something she sees as a good for business and the city. Before her came River's Edge, Glowfish Studios and Firehouse.

"The nice thing is there's room for all of us. I don't feel like we compete. I think we complement each other," Riley says. There are so many niches in art, and I'm careful not to sell the same things as they sell. What it does, having all of us here, is make Wyandotte more of a destination."

Source: Pam Riley, owner, Abundant Living Gallery
Writer: Kim North Shine

Blumz growing Ferndale-based flower biz with new Ann Arbor store

Blumz by JRDesigns is expanding its floral and event planning services to Ann Arbor.

The owners, Jerome Raska and Robbin Yelverton, have established the business by becoming known for a knack for locating exotic blooms and for a fun attitude. After cementing sales and a following in downtown Detroit and Ferndale they felt the obvious move was to extend its reach to Ann Arbor.

The new store is located at 540 Avis Drive, and if like the other stores, it will connect it to major university and community events as well as become a go-to for weddings, funerals and special occasions. Blumz is a staple on the charity party scene and is connected to major events in Detroit and Ferndale.

Its Ferndale space is rentable and the floral design studio in Ann Arbor will also be a place for students to learn from the owners who are certified floral educators.

Source: Jerome Raska, co-owner, Blumz by JRDesigns
Writer: Kim North Shine


Skyetique Boutique & Beauty Bar to open in Grosse Pointe Park

Skye Salon & Spa in downtown Grosse Pointe is branching into a blow-dry bar and express service concept with its soon to open Skyetique.

Skyetique Boutique & Beauty Bar is scheduled to open later this month, and a grand opening party is planned for Nov. 29.

Like Skye Salon, a Grosse Pointe staple that's operated from an upstairs space overlooking the Village business district, Skyetique will be located on Kercheval Avenue, but will be about a mile down the road in Grosse Pointe Park in an an old, but re-emerging business district known as The Park.

Besides the blow dry bar, Skyetique will have a tanning area, make-up area, and offer pedicure and manicures and other services that can be ordered via iPads, which will also let customers browse the online store for merchandise they might want to take home.

The new salon is opening in the same neighborhood as Atwater Brewery, which is turning a church into a biergarten and pub and where the Red Crown restaurant opened over a year ago. Several other businesses have opened or are expected to open as the city makes plans to close and redesign the roadway into a pedestrian-centered boulevard. It's all in large part driven by the civic-minded and philanthropic Cotton family of the Grosse Pointes.

Source: Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Kim North Shine

E7 Solutions sets up tech shop in Auburn Hills

E7 Solutions, a software and consulting firm, has opened an office in downtown Auburn Hills.

The five-year-old company has  been steadily hiring since moving to 3344 Auburn Road last month.

The company's founder is Edmond Delude, who is bringing 15 years of experience from Chrysler, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mercedes and Land Rover, managing the development of engineering software applications and development of diagnostic communication protocol specifications.

E7 specializes in software development, data management, project management and in generally finding solutions for businesses. It also has expertise in Atlassian JIRA software for managing product launches.

Source: Darren Darge, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

State backs Dearborn Artspace artists' community

Plans for City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn, a community where all kinds of artists could live, work, learn, and sell, took a significant step forward with the approval of housing tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The proposal, which is a collaboration between the city of Dearborn, the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, Artspace, would renovate Dearborn's historic City Hall, now Plans for City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn, a community where all kinds of artists could live, work, learn, and sell, took a significant step forward with the approval of housing tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The proposal, which is a collaboration between the city of Dearborn, the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, Artspace, would renovate Dearborn's historic City Hall into 46 affordable housing units for artists and their families. City Hall Artspace Lofts at 13615 Michigan Avenue would also have room for a cafe, working studios, incubator space, galleries and creative businesses.

The project encompasses City Hall, which includes the adjacent West Annex and the concourse. Altogether, it would also provide Dearborn with a community gathering and performance space indoors and out. City Hall was sold to Artspace in August, and city offices will move to a municipal complex west of the current City Hall.

The project comes with a $16 million price tag, and the tax credits from MSHDA, which amount to $7.6 million in upfront equity, are a significant step in chipping away at the capital campaign required to bring a Dearborn Artspace to reality.

With support from the state, the final phase of fundraising can begin with a target date of summer 2014 for construction on a project that Artspace calls one of the most unique of the 33 it's completed around the country in the last 30 years.

Artspace President Kelley Lindquist cited the City Hall Artspace Lofts project as unique in the organization’s portfolio.
“Artspace has a long history of saving and repurposing historic buildings from warehouses to schools to hospitals, but this is our first opportunity to renovate a city hall,” Artspace president Kelley Lindquist said. “I’m thrilled we can help Dearborn preserve this important building, and grateful to the very active and engaged community leaders and artists who are helping make this possible.”

Source: Melissa Kania, executive assistant, East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority; and Melodie Bahan, spokesperosn, Artspace
Writer: Kim North Shine

Atlas Copco expands U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills

Swedish-based Atlas Copco's upward trajectory of sales and growth is benefiting Auburn Hills, which will be home to the company's expanded U.S. headquarters.

Demand for the products provided by the U.S. arm of the company, Atlas Copco Tools & Assembly Systems in Auburn Hills, led to a decision to double its facility by building a $15-million, 120,000-square-foot headquarters in the Oakland Technology Park. It's where the company will supply other businesses with handheld electric and pneumatic tools, assembly systems, software and heavy industrial vehicles.

Atlas, which is a multi-national with offices around the country and the world, also supplies construction and mining equipment, compressed air and gas and other industrial and manufacturing products.

The new Auburn Hills facility will initially employ about 225 people. Ground was broken last month and the construction should be completed summer of 2014.

Source: Shawn Keenan, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

Closed metro Detroit Caribou Coffees come back as Peet's Coffee & Tea

Six closed metro Detroit Caribou coffee shops are re-opening this week and next week as Peet's Coffee & Tea.

After months of renovations and employee training, Peet's Coffee & Teas opened Nov. 11 in Royal Oak, Novi, Shelby and Commerce townships and Rochester Hills.

A shop in Grosse Pointe's Village business district is opening Nov. 18, as is a store in Ann Arbor.

The new Peet's are retaining and retraining many Caribou employees and also hiring new ones as well as investing in upgrades and decor at the new shops.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based company began selling the rarity of small-batch, high-quality roasted and brewed coffee from its first store in Berkeley, Calif. in 1966. The company is in the midst of an eastward expansion. It recently opened 18 stores in Ohio and four in the Pittsburgh area.

Many of its new stores are just doors away from Starbucks, which opened in 1971, five years after Peet's first shop. Friends of Alfred Peet, the founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea, opened Starbucks after being taught by Peet, a Dutch immigrant who, as the story goes, was appalled by the coffee Americans drank. He wanted to enlighten them and teach them how to find the best beans and make a better cup.

Starbucks initially sold only roasted beans, not brewed coffee, but has since far surpassed Peet's in size.

Source: Peet's Coffee & Tea
Writer: Kim North Shine

Tasty health food stirs up interest in Berkley's new Republica restaurant

The owners of the new Republica in downtown Berkley are calling their endeavor a food and drink revolution.

The menu is designed for meat lovers, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters. The idea people behind the menu are a family with a history in restaurants from metro Detroit to Chicago.

The idea is to serve rich, memorable meals that don't leave your stomach feeling rich and fatty afterward and to serve food and drinks grown or made locally, from Michigan farms to nearby bakeries and to focus on healthy, natural food, not processed, not fried.

Craft cocktails and Michigan beers are served from a bar that was one of many major, stylish renovations to the restaurant that was formerly the Berkley Bistro & Cafe. It's located at 1999 Coolidge.

Comments and reviews on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp are showing locals are loving the fresh food like the urban farm sandwich and fresh fruit cocktail drinks from the bar.

Source: City of Berkley
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dynasty Media Network opens office in downtown Ferndale

Dynasty Media Network has turned a closed storefront located in downtown Ferndale into an office, sound stage, production area and all-around workspace for digital designers, marketers and technological engineers to design all manner of promotions and communications.

Owner and Founder Michael Rott has a long list of well-known clients and promising start-ups and plans to add to it from the new space and with staff that builds websites, develops apps, produces videos, TV commercials and digital business presentations.

DMN plans to add six full-time positions in 2014 and is also partnering with the College for Creative Studies to offer paid internship opportunities that can nuture a future generation of digital designers.

DMN also offers technology consulting, business strategy, audio visual systems, motion graphics and 3D animation, live streaming, corporate webinars, social media management and Apple computer education as a certified member of the Apple Consultants Network. Rott previously served as one of Michigan's lead creatives for Apple Inc. for several years prior to forming Dynasty Media Network.

"My passion for business, special event production and cutting-edge technology has led me to this point in my career," Rott said when he announced plans to open the new office for Dynasty Media Network last year. "At DMN we support individuals and businesses through creative design, effective marketing strategies and innovative technology solutions."

Source: Michael Rott, owner and founder, Dynasty Media Network
Writer: Kim North Shine

Stayin Alive Novi revives nightclub scene

After months of renovations that involved a gigantic disco ball, '70s and '80s era decor, lava lamp tables and a massive LED dance floor, Stayin Alive Novi's owners are looking to be filled with dancers and fun-seekers on weekends and event planners and private parties other nights of the week.

The vision for Stayin Alive, which opened last week in the Fountain Walk of Novi at 44325 Twelve Mile Road, is to bring back disco -- and '80s and '90s music -- in a big, memorable space for all sorts of get-togethers.

The dance club, which also has a patio and serves signature disco ball drinks, the Saturday Night Fever and Super Freak, from a 50-foot-long bar with iconic '70s and '80s logos on the walls and TV screens, will seek out corporate planners, party hosts, bachelorettes and even divorcees looking for a loud and crazy night out.

Events are already booking, including time in the VIP Shag Room, and last week's opening weekend was packed.

Vladimir Mirkovich, J. Kyle Hagerty and Brian DJ Godfather Jeffries, all metro Detroiters, are teaming up on the venture with Lucky Strike Entertainment.

Source: Vladimir Mirkovich, managing member, Stayin Alive Novi LLC
Writer: Kim North Shine


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