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Former NFL'ers son inspires sporty Kute Kids Boutique



Kute Kids Boutique
, an online store that customizes sports-themed clothes and accessories for kids -- and even dogs -- is carving out an online niche of customers, from Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons players to the everyday sports fan watching teams at home.

"Lions' players' wives have ordered things," says co-owner and marketer Sherrie Handrinos, who is also the president of Boost One Marketing. "Pistons staff cleared out our gear in like 10 minutes."

Michigan and Michigan State fans are plentiful, as are orders for teams from out-of-state.

The mother-daughter-run online store went live several weeks ago and quickly got a following of people wanting to dress up their kids on game days -- or any day.

Handrinos, a Royal Oak resident, and her mom, Mary Anne Pacheco, a seamstress from Plymouth, have worked together since Handrinos was 19 and "we work together so well," she says. They also collaborate on Boost One Marketing, a marketing and public relations business.

"When I was little my mom would make my clothes…She's the one who knows how to do that stuff," says Handrinos. "I'm the creative one. I come up with the crazy ideas and make it happen…It's not really our main business, it's just something we love so much."

Kute Kids was inspired by Handrinos's godson, Kingston Williams, son of Derrick Williams, a third-round draft pick from Penn State who played for the Detroit Lions before moving to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Over the past two years I would call my mom and say could you make Kingston this…every time he'd change his jersey number…We'd make bibs, blankets, outfits to match."

Kingston is now two and his dad has left football, but the clothes and other kids' stuff he inspired carry on.

Kute Kids will add detail -- names, numbers, etc. -- to items made by Pacheco and to other products: blankets, diaper covers, onesies, bibs, etc.

Social media, especially Instagram, has been a sales driver. After Handrinos posted a photo of her and Pacheco's Maltese dogs dressed as footballs, inquiries from pet owners wanting outfits for their animals "were coming in within five minutes," says Handrinos.

"I can't say enough about the power of social media," she says. "We may some day want a store or to put our merchandise in a store, but for now with people being so comfortable with online shopping...the online store is working out great."

Source: Sherrie Handrinos, co-owner Kute Kids Boutique and president Boost One Marketing
Writer: Kim North Shine

Build your own pie at Royal Oak's Blaze Pizza

A California pizza chain known for its quick-fired, watch your pizza being made concept opened its first Michigan location in Royal Oak last week.

Blaze Pizza, a fast casual restaurant concept that's in heated expansion mode, franchised a 3,900-square-foot, 80-seat store with an outside patio at 112 Main Street. The eatery introduced locals to its concept of an assembly-line system that lets customers choose from more than 40 toppings -- many gourmet or unusual -- and watch as a ball of dough made from scratch and left to ferment and develop flavor for 24 hours is pressed and topped before going into a high-heat oven that bakes the thin-crust pizzas in 120 seconds.

The franchise is owned by Blaze Midwest out of Houghton Lake, which plans to open 10 Blaze Pizzas in Michigan.

Source: Blaze Pizza
Writer: Kim North Shine

Age-friendly, plug-in ready neighborhood planned for Auburn Hills

A residential development in Auburn Hills is planned to be much more than another new subdivision.

The Parkways, a project of The Moceri Companies, is meant to create public use spaces, become an entry into the city's emerging downtown district, promote alternative electric vehicle usage and offer specially-designed multi-generational housing in one neighborhood.

City officials say the mix of housing styles and design of the neighborhood keep in mind the city's goals of offering more "age-friendly" and senior living options and promoting the inclusion of alternative energy technology in new construction.

The Parkways is also believed to be the largest residential development in Michigan to wire all property with electric vehicle plug-ins.

"This project was intentionally designed to meet Auburn Hills’ formal commitment to become an Age-Friendly Community with a variety of housing opportunities, parks, sidewalks and complete street considerations,” says Steven Cohen, director of community development for the city of Auburn Hills. “This private investment by The Moceri Companies to build a multi-generational development is a huge victory for the city.  It’s a game changer for Downtown Auburn Hills.”

As for electric vehicle wiring, Cohen says, "If considered when a project is first built, preparing for electric vehicles is very easy and inexpensive.  By prepping these garages with proper wiring, new residents within this development will only need to add a charging station on the wall if they buy or lease an electric vehicle.  It’s like adding a garage door opener and the costs are now very similar.  Having proper infrastructure in place will help this technology succeed. It just takes forward thinking.”

The Parkways will be made up of 76 townhouse, 72 stacked, flat units and a three-story 160-unit senior care complex.

The market value of The Parkways, which will be built on 21.5 acres of property west of Adams road and north of the Clinton River Trail, is expected to be $75 million. Previous plans for a major housing development by another company foundered during the recession, and the property went into foreclosure and then back into the city's hands.

A partnership with the city and Moceri means part of the land will become a two-acre public park and the major road through the property will be designed as a boulevard an eastern gateway into downtown Auburn Hills, where major projects such as student housing, will be completed soon.

Construction on the first of five phases is scheduled to being in the spring of 2014 and be completed by the end of 2017.

Source: City of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

Veterans' housing foundation opens HQ in downtown Mount Clemens

An organization formed to prevent homelessness among veterans has opened an office in downtown Mount Clemens as it makes plans to become a Midwest advocate for military men, women and families

VCCF, Veterans Construction Communities Foundation,
offers housing assistance, whether it's building, remodeling or financial assistance, job training and lacemtn and other services that help veterans of all wars and their families not only assimilate post war but thrive and have a high quality of life, says Mark Diaz, VCCF founder and president. Diaz is also a  Marine and veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, a former Detroit Police Department detective and founder and executive vice president of Liberty Home Loans.

Diaz founded VCCF with Mary Beth Ryan, who has a background as a sales and marketing executive in radio and TV and is a fundraiser for some of metro Detroit's well-known events. Their connections and experience put them in a place to network with people and companies who can help veterans.

The foundation's new office opens Oct. 24 at 15 North Walnut, not far from the Macomb County Courthouse. The founders say they want to share with the Veterans Administration the overwhelming burden of needs of veterans trying to return to normalcy. Some 1.5 million veterans are at imminent risk of homelessness, says VCCF's founders.

Besides offering general assistance to veterans and their families, VCCF is project-based. Money will be raised, volunteers gathered and expertise and connections tapped for specific veterans.

The current project is the rehabilitation of the Mount Clemens home of an U.S. Army sergeant whose bank account was emptied and who had the ownership of his homes illegally transferred while he was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

The goal of VCCF with its motto, One Soldier, One Home, One At A Time, is to "be a significant force in eradicating and prevention of veteran homelessness. The funds we raise through the foundation will supply housing options for veterans and their families," Diaz says. “Our vision is to also become the Midwest resource and advocacy center for the veteran population.”

Source: Mark Diaz and Mary Beth Ryan, founders, Veterans Constructing Communities Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine



Lark & Co. revives the old general store in new Birmingham spot

The vision for Michael Collins and David Zawicki's new Lark & Co. in downtown Birmingham is modern day general store.

The pair who previously ran Oliver's Trendz, a women's accessories store, in the same storefront at 138 N. Maple.  After shutting down for renovations, they reopened nearly two weeks ago and have stocked the 1,100-square-foot space with products inspired by a 1940s general store.

Variety is the name of the game: handmade candy, furniture, foodstuffs, lighting, purses, speciality soaps, rugs, books.

Collins and Zawicki have lived in Birmingham 17 years and see a general store as a way to round out downtown Birmingham's retail offerings, a way to keep locals from leaving town to shop.

Next door to Lark & Co. is Suhm-thing, a gift store that is also owned and operated by Collins and Zawicki and has a a selection of Michigan goods and unusual items from artists and designers around the world.

Part of the their business plan is also to convey how much good supporting a local merchant can do for the economy and to set them themselves apart by providing a level of service that's harder to find at chains, malls and big box stores, Collins says.

Source: Ed Nakfoor, Birmingham PSD, and Michael Collins, owner, Lark&Co.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale-based Schramm's meets the need for mead

A decade since Ken Schramm started on the path to becoming one of Michigan's -- if not the country's -- mead authorities, he has opened his own meadery and bar.

Schramm's Mead served its first customers Sept. 26 and celebrated with a grand opening party last Friday. After some unexpected hurdles, there was all the more reason to whoop it up.

Schramm, whose day job is as manager of video services and manager of instructional technologies for Wayne County Schools, withstood delays brought on by the government sequester in April -- delays that caused crucial approvals from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to take several weeks or months longer than usual. Schramm says he's thrilled to see that his financial projections are being met. That's even after paying rent, building costs, salaries and going through refinancing to survive the delays.

Schramm is the author of the Compete Mead Maker, which was published in 2003 and has sold about 60,000 copies. He started making mead a decade ago, knows its history, the many forms it takes, and realizes that turning craft mead into the next craft beer is "somewhat of an uphill battle" even when at least four metro Detroit craft brewers are succeeding at making mead. B. Nektar Meadery, also in Ferndale, is a supporter of Schramm's. The two make different styles of mead and B. Nektar is making mead as fast it can to keep up with demand.

For Schramm the opening of his own establishment and the growing taste for mead is a dream come true.

"I've worked hard to build this industry...I'm working hard to promote this hobby and this industry," he says. "This is such an exciting time for me."

His daughter Allison is managing Schramm's Mead and "doing everything except making the mead," which is Ken Schramm's job. She has the help of several employees. Schramm's Mead will serve its fermented honey-based beverage with cheese plates and charcuterie. Schramm smokes meats too. It's located at 327 W. 9 Mile Road.

So far the customers coming for a glass are about half mead drinkers, half not.

"Some are familiar with it or know it well. They come from craft beer and wine circles," he says. "Some know who I am and were looking forward to the place opening. Others have never tried it, are interested in seeing what mead is."

Source: Ken Schramm, founder and mead-maker, Schramm's Mead
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lawrence Tech shows small biz the ways of digital manufacturing

A new partnership is forming at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield with the goal of making access to digital manufacturing more accessible to small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

The university has paired up with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences to open a 1,200-square-foot facility where manufacturers will have access to software, hardware and training that teaches them how to incorporate typically cost-prohibitive digital manufacturing, modeling, simulation and visualization technology.

NCMS is described as the largest cross-industry collaborative research-and-development consortium in North America. It is dedicated to driving innovation in commercial, defense, robotics and environmentally sustainable manufacturing industries.

The new training facility is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2014 in LTU's General Services Building at 21301 Civic Center Drive.

"This collaboration will truly help Michigan SMMs become more competitive on a national and global scale,” says NCMS President Rick Jarman.

Organizations such as the Michigan Manufacturers Association, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Aerospace Association of Michigan will identify manufacturers and publicize the program.

“As a nation, we suffered a great deal when we shifted away from manufacturing," LTU president Virinder Moudgil says in a statement. "Now we have an opportunity to make manufacturing strong once more by helping the small and mid-sized companies that are the backbone of the U.S. economy.”

Source: Eric Pope, spokesperson, Lawrence Technogical University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Barre workout & yoga unite in new Grosse Pointe Park studio

In just a few months' time a new yoga and barre studio in Grosse Pointe Park has built a strong following of fitness-focused customers looking for a new place and way to work out.

Above the Barre X at 15229 Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park looks like a dance studio with a ballet barre, mirrors and wood floors in a big open space. Lightburst chandeliers, sliding, floor-to-ceiling doors and glistening floors give the studio a contemporary, upscale feel.

It's where co-owners Suzette Wilson and Christy Wood and a staff of nine instructors teach yoga, Pilates and Barre X, a workout that challenges the muscles, especially the smaller ones, through movements of constant contraction and tension. Movements are made in shorts bursts and holds. Shaking, quivering muscles are the norm. Barre has become go-to workout in larger cities and is gaining popularity locally.

Wood, who for years taught Pilates and yoga, was a partner in a studio in Grosse Pointe Woods and also taught in St. Clair Shores at Wilson's Real Results Training. About two years ago they learned about barre and introduced it to a handful of clients.

"We actually started doing the classes in another location during construction in January or February," Wood says. "We just wanted to get interest up. We started with one barre. We kept adding. I got trained. It took me a year to train the others. We knew people were ready for it."

Wood says barre originated in London and was a workout for the rich and famous. It migrated to the U.S. and by the '70s was an exclusive workout for women living on the Upper East Side of New York. Working on a barre in a nondescript gym, they saw amazing, quick results. Barre began to spread, and now barre studios are opening regularly, especially on the East Coast.

Wood has traveled to many cities learning about barre and was amazed by how it strengthened her body and her mindset, even as a longtime Pilates and yoga instructor.

"After traveling and seeing how happy people were with barre I'm not at all surprised to see the response we've had here," she says. "It's amazing. It's almost like people are on a high after a barre class.

"For me the best part is seeing the results, and people do see the results," she says. "What's beautiful about it is it allows them to look outside themselves and think about others, to think less about how they look or how their body feels."

More classes are being added, including a teen barre class on Thursdays, and special events such as Bring Your Man to the Barre are being planned.

"The more people see what a hard workout this is and how much they get out of it," Wood says, "they are hooked."

Source: Christy Wood, co-owner, Above the Barre X
Writer: Kim North Shine

Wanderlust Boutique brings affordable Euro fashion to Rochester

The women behind the new Wanderlust Boutique in downtown Rochester are bringing their love for European fashion to locals.

Ally and Denise Martin say they've figured out a way to make Euro style affordable by scouring hundreds of vendors, looking not only for good prices but original styles. Besides casual clothing, the store sells accessories such as jewelry, watches, belts and shoes.

Wanderlust opened Oct. 11 in a redone store painted in aqua blue mixed with exposed brick walls.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce is planned for Nov. 1.

Source: Ally Martin, co-owner, Wanderlust Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

Four new developments coming online in Auburn Hills

Auburn Hills -- and its developing downtown area -- is in a mini-construction boom with four new projects partially or mostly complete.

The developments are an outgrowth of increased enrollment and demands for housing and other services for students and staff at Oakland University, Oakland Community College, Baker College and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

* The University Center will open in January and replace a restaurant and bar with a two-story building dedicated to educating local high school and college students. The first floor will have two classrooms in 4,800 square feet and host classes for colleges and universities located in Auburn Hills. The second floor will be home to the Avondale Academy run by Avondale Schools.

The University Center is a partnership between the city's TIFA, Avondale Schools, Oakland University, Oakland Community College, Baker College and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

* The DEN, Downtown Education Nook, will be a relaxing hang-out for students to study individually or in groups and like the University Center open in January. The 1,564-square-foot facility is connected to a historic log cabin and will have two fireplaces and five study rooms.

* Auburn Square Apartments: 97 apartments consisting of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The $9 million project will include 6,100 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, helping to increase foot traffic in the downtown area. Apartments are already leasing and move-in should begin in January.

* A public parking structure will be owned and operated by the city and its Tax Increment Financing Authority. It will have space for 233 vehicles, with spaces connected to common hallways that lead to each floor of apartments. It should be open for business in November.

All four projects are the result of work by the city's Tax Increment Financing Authority, which captures increases in the tax base in a designated zone and dedicates them to public improvement projects in partnership with private and other public investors.

Source: Barbara Fornasiero, spokesperson, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

C.A.Y.A Smokehouse Grill opens in Wolverine Lake

There is a lot to go on about with the C.A.Y.A Smokehouse Grill in Wolverine Lake, and customers are coming, from the nearby lake crowd to destination diners, to see what's it's all about.

There is the food -- a specially smoked and creative menu made up of locally sourced ingredients from farms within 100 miles and never treated with chemicals or artificial ingredients. For example, the pork is pink because it comes from farms that don't pump it up with solutions.

There is the building itself, a mix of rustic and industrial with copper, barn wood, iron, exposed cement-brick walls, exposed ceilings and an eye-catching, sleek black onyx bar. The bar serves specialty drinks and has six Michigan craft beers on tap.

Jeff Rose, co-owner and chef, comes from two of metro Detroit's top restaurants: Michael Symon's Roast in Detroit and Toast in Birmingham. Rose co-owns C.A.Y.A with Rachel Mandell. They have 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Rose has also manned kitchens at Tribute, Big Rock Chophouse and Iridescence.

Rose broke away to introduce his own restaurant concept -- a smokehouse bistro -- a casual restaurant that shows off what can be done with a smoker. Many of C.A.Y.A's meats are smoked for 10-14 hours over hickory, maple, oak, apple and cherry woods until they are tender. They emerge with a caramelized outside and are served by chefs specializing in sides and desserts.

"It's important for us to be able to provide our guests with not only a great dining experience," Rose says,"but also offer the highest quality and freshest food available."

There's room at the grill for 100 to eat inside and 60 on the covered patio. The restaurant is located at 1403 Commerce Road at Pontiac Trail.


Source: Jeff Rose, co-owner, C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill and Jaclyn Robinson, spokesperson
Writer: Kim North Shine

Vibe Credit Union brings e-banking to Birmingham

Vibe Credit Union's online and handheld-technology-driven style of banking has come to a new branch in Birmingham.

Vibe's e-Center, or remote branch, at 163 W. Maple opened Sept. 25, adding to Vibe's other locations in Berkley, Canton, Livonia, Novi, South Lyon, Southfield and Sterling Heights. A downtown Royal Oak location will open later this year, says Tom Reagan, president and CEO of Vibe Credit Union.

Vibe's new e-Center is staffed with a customer service rep who will tell customers how to use Vibe's mobile and online services, which include banking apps, mobile deposits, quick online loans and other programs geared toward different audiences.

Vibe rounds out its banking services with rewards programs, lower fees and other offerings such as bill pay. An ATM is located at the e-Center, and Vibe has more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs. Vibe banking can also be completed by phone.

“We are very excited to grow our business and reach out to new communities," Reagan says. "The design of this new eCenter was built around technology and a way for more people to bank differently.”

Source: Vibe Credit Union
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ice ice baby! Downtown Farmington gets new rink

Downtown Farmington is complementing its growing retail scene and historic downtown gathering spaces with a new ice rink.

The rink is expected to be completed in December and will be located at Riley Park in the heart of downtown. It's being built by Serv Ice Refrigeration, the same company that laid the rink in Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, says Annette Knowles, director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority.

The George F. Riley Foundation, for whom the park is named, donated $100,000 toward the construction of the rink,which sill cost about $300,000. Fundraisers continue to raise the rest of the money and engineering firm, Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment are donating services for the project.

“Our family is quite pleased at how Riley Park in downtown Farmington has become a hub for families and friends to gather together and has also become a center for key events in Farmington. The Riley Foundation’s commitment to create the Riley Ice Rink creates a fourth season for activity in downtown. We are excited to be able to support this worthwhile enhancement for families and friends enjoying the quality of life in our community," the Riley Foundation says in a letter.

Knowles says the community has expressed a desire for a downtown rink in visioning sessions and other public meetings and that she expects the rink to be a "cool" addition to the city.

"Job creation will be hard to measure at this point, but we do know that seasonal maintenance will be necessary. Spin off business opportunities exist," Knowles says. "For example, we would love for someone to come forward with skate rentals that we do not have to manage."

Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority

Writer: Kim North Shine

Atwater Brewery turns Grosse Pointe Park church into beer hall

Come spring, Atwater Brewery will be brewing and serving its Detroit-born suds from a closed Grosse Pointe Park church that's being converted into a beer hall-style restaurant and outdoor biergarten.

The impending opening of Atwater in the Park will be celebrated at the just-completed biergarten at 1175 Lakepointe off of Kercheval Avenue this Friday, when Atwater hosts the GPP version of its annual Bloktoberfest with German beer, food and music by the Polish Muslims.

The renovations on the new brewpub are happening now at the church which fronts Kercheval and is a few blocks from the Detroit border at Alter Road. A sign at the construction site reads: Born in Detroit. Brewed in the Park.

Atwater's Detroit brewery in Rivertown will remain in operation. Atwater owner Mark Rieth is a Grosse Pointe Park resident who is excited to be part of a the revitalization of the Park's business district, led in large part by the local Cotton family, which has bought property and brought in business owners who can attract crowds and offer quality and creativity.

Rieth has said the church pews and other parts of the church will be re-used in the redesign. At 7,000 square feet it's a big space to re-do, but beer tanks take up a lot of room and Atwater has many fans, especially locally.

The beer hall will be in the basement.  On the main floor, the pews will be used as bench seating and there will be a circular bar. There will be separate rooms for seating and a merchandise area for beer and beer supplies.

Outside, long tables and other changes will make customers feel "just like you're in Munich," Rieth says.

There will be 40 beers on tap, and Atwater is currently hiring staff.

Atwater opened in March of 1997 in a 1919 factory warehouse on the Detroit riverfront and prides itself on carrying on the history of Detroit breweries and using malt and hops from Germany to turn out traditional German lagers.

Atwater previously ran a restaurant in Detroit and then converted it to brewing only. Recently, a tap room opened in Detroit, where 14 beers are on tap. The brewery also has tours and event space.

Atwater's annual Bloktoberfest at its Detroit facility this weekend from 4 p.m. to close at the tap room at 237 Joseph Campau St.

Source: Atwater in the Park
Writer: Kim North Shine

ROUGE MakeUp and Nail Salon expands in downtown Ferndale

The little red make-up and nail salon in Ferndale that built a customer base attracted to organic and vegan products and a creative staff is now a bigger space, still red in keeping with the name.

ROUGE MakeUp and Nail Studio expanded into a neighboring store on Woodward Avenue and into space about twice its original size two weeks ago.

Sisters Cheryl Salinas-Tucker, who worked as a make-up artist on shows and photo shoots in New York City and then traveled the country as an instructor for cosmetics lines, and Jeny Bulatovic, a manicurist who heads up a staff that has won Rouge Best Nail Salon honors for two years, opened Rouge in 2010.

The salon has made a name for itself by offering personal service, helping customers through skin and nail disasters, and running a business that's fun and welcoming.

They expanded their downtown Ferndale salon after they outgrew the first space in less two years.

Source: Jeny Bulatovic, co-owner, Rouge MakeUp and Nail Salon
Writer: Kim North Shine
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