Industry Club will give young people business experience while getting paid

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan will open this fall its first program offering real-world experience for youth interested in retail or fashion merchandising careers.

Industry Club will be based at the Woodward clothing store Detroit is the New Black starting in September. About 200 Detroit youth, ages 14 and up, will be hired each year and earn $10 to $13 an hour.

Roslyn Karamoko, founder of the Detroit is the New Black clothing store, will work with Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan on a program that provides business experience to young people.

The program will give young people the economic, cultural and social capital needed to become college, career and startup ready, said Shawn H. Wilson, president & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. They will gain real-world experience learning about business.

"I think that's a key, especially youth of color, that's a key to their success," he said. "Whether they end up starting a business is irrelevant to a certain extent because the mindset of them understanding the mind of an entrepreneur gives them a competitive advantage in any workforce that they go into."

The program will run after school and during the summer, and be open to those with memberships to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. The retail sector is the pilot for the program, with other industries to follow, Wilson said. 

Roslyn Karamoko, founder of Detroit is the New Black has offered retail floor space to other Detroit-based small businesses since opening her flagship store in 2016. That accelerator concept continues with the Industry Club. 

The program involves Ponyride, a Corktown-based maker space, partnering with Detroit is the New Black to run a retail accelerator program in the store for five rotating local brands with a focus on women- and minority-owned businesses.

Bedrock, owner of the building, will provide the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan the space rent-free, a $25,000 operational grant and long-term volunteer support.

Industry Club will help create a pipeline of retail leaders, said Matt Cullen, Bedrock CEO. 

“It has always been our belief that a sustainable, vibrant retail district is a place where strong local brands thrive beside big national names," said Matt Cullen, Bedrock CEO. "That strategy needs to expand to elevate minority-owned businesses and help strengthen pathways for their growth and contribution to Detroit’s ongoing momentum."

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN