Detroit restaurants, bars and beauty businesses are competing for $50,000 to open a storefront
Detroit — Ten up-and-coming restaurants, bars, clothing shops and beauty businesses are competing for funding to open brick-and-mortar locations in either Detroit, Highland Park or Hamtramck.
The annual Hatch Detroit contests announced the semi-finalists Thursday evening. Public votes will narrow down the pool to four finalists vying for $50,000 from Comerica Bank. Hatch Detroit and its partners are also offering $200,000 in pro bono support. Voting begins online noon Friday and closes midnight Aug. 17. The four winners will be announced Aug. 18.
Since the contest was founded in 2011, five winners have been announced, and four have opened storefronts, including the popular Indian Village bakery Sister Pie, Midtown Spanish tapas restaurant La Feria, fitness studio Live Cycle Delight on Agnes and Batch Brewing Company in Corktown.
“As Detroit continues to prosper, so does the independent small business retail,” Hatch Detroit executive director Vittoria Katanski said in a statement. “This year we received more than 40 business applications and look forward to standing alongside the community as it determines the businesses that will become this year’s finalists.”
One semi-finalist includes Rebel Nell, a company started in 2013 that employs women from homeless shelters to make jewelry out of Detroit graffiti. Seven employees currently work out of the arts incubator 4731 on Grand River and primarily sell the necklaces, bracelets and earrings online.
"If we win, Rebel Nell would use the money to move into a larger space that would allow us to expand our workforce by hiring more women out of shelter living and set us up for continued growth," said founder Amy Peterson.
Another semi-finalist includes The Lip Bar, a lipstick collection company headquartered in Detroit. Founder Melissa Butler didn’t secure a deal when she appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2015, but she went on to have a successful online business and has expanded sales to Target.
“I want to open a storefront facility where we manufacture in the back and produce in the front,” Butler said. “This will create jobs, reduce our carbon footprint and ultimately reduce costs.”
Butler, a native Detroiter, added that she started making lipsticks in her kitchen, and as she grew the company, she had to outsource.
“Now that we are preparing to go into 44 Target stores, we want to be able to control our manufacturing by bringing the beauty to Detroit,” she said.
Also in the beauty realm, downtown Detroit’s first blow dry bar, Detroit Blows, is being built on Library Street. Co-founders Nia Batts and Katy Cockrel received a $20,000 Motor City Match grant in April and plan to use the Hatch funding, if they win, to construct the 2,100-square-foot space.
Last year’s winner was Meta Physica Massage Therapy, which offers therapeutic massages in Midtown.
The 10 semi-finalists
Baobab Fare: restaurant, market and juice bar
Bar Botanica: craft cocktail bar and café
Bases: organic skin and hair care products
Bendicion de Dios: Salvadoran restaurant
Coop Detroit: farm-to-table restaurant
Detroit Blows: blow out hair styling services
Fam: mens clothing store
Rebel Nell: handcrafted jewelry company
Rosedale Beer & Bistro: restaurant and brewpub
The Lip Bar: all-natural lipstick company