Monthly Archives: July 2011
When it comes to all things yummy, I am a serious advocate of spreading the goodness around. I assure you that one bite into one of Stephanie Strong’s cupcakes and you will be hooked! The twenty-eight year-old Detroit native launched Fancy Schmancy Cupcakes in 2010 and has been non-stop since then.
Known as “Crayola” by her peers, Ms. Strong is quite the cupcake connoisseur, creating a host of flavors with unique names like “The Bees Knees” a honey-flavored cupcake to the “Pucker Up” cupcake full of raspberry cream cheese filling. Fancy Schmancy Cupcakes has been quite busy since it’s launch last year although it took a four-year delay out of fear and a lack of money.
“I wanted to start the business since 2006, but I was really discouraged, because I thought I needed a lot of money up front. Finally, I got up the courage to start after purchasing two new cupcake books.”
Since then Fancy Schmancy has catered to a host of events like showers, corporate events, birthdays, weddings, church functions, etc. Stephanie has also done vending all over the city at places such as They Say Restaurant, 1515 Broadway, City Wings, The Java House, 5 Elements Gallery, The Black Scribes Expo, The Sweet Epiphany and the Russell Bazaar. Fancy Schmancy Cupcakes are currently sold at Sweet Potato Sensations Bakery on Lahser in Detroit, as well.
Although the name, Fancy Schmancy is befitting to Stephanie’s highly decorative confections, she is undergoing a name change as of 2012. The original idea was a last-minute decision when she struggled to find a name and her friend told her to stop over-thinking it and come up with something all ‘fancy schmancy’. To pay homage to her hometown as well as herself (Stephanie’s birthday is March 13th) the new name will be “313 Cupcakes”. Until then, you can check out her menu and pricing at FancySchmancyCupcakes.com or contact her at 313-231-5628. SUPPORT!
Technically, I’m not “Imported from Detroit”, I’m imported from Oklahoma. The product of parents who met in the military, got married and had a baby…or something like that. Dad is from Georgia. Mom, fortunately, spent her formative years in Detroit. So, when they decided to go their separate ways, we eventually ended up in Detroit by way of Georgia and Alabama. I loved my summer’s in the south, but Detroit made me the woman I am today!
Through its culture, community, resources and people, Detroit taught me many life lessons in ways you wouldn’t expect or realize unless you’re from here. Listed below are just a few.
*To any out-of-towners reading this blog, I’m about to talk about a bunch of stuff that no longer exists! I suggest you YouTube and Google all of it!*
Belief in Yourself
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a dancin’ machine (watch her get down, watch her get down) and that came in large part from a little ditty called The New Dance Show. Everyday at 6pm, our family TV was on Channel 62 watching RJ Watkins, Pam, LaWanda, Ms. Energy and ‘nem getting down to the sounds of DJ Jesse the Body! I could not wait until I got old enough to go to The Brotherhood Club in my “move somethin” dress and do the latest dances in the flyest outfits the late 80s and early 90s had to offer. There were no shy dancers on that show. No wallflowers running away from the cameras. Why? Because in their minds, they were the hottest dancers in Detroit and nothing anyone said could tell them otherwise. They were confident. They knew they were the whip! We could learn from that today. If you KNOW that you have a gift, who cares what someone has to say about it? Continue to cultivate your gift and give it away as much as you can!
Entrepreneurship and Supporting Your Local Business
Believe it or not, The New Dance Show was also one of my first introductions to entrepreneurship. Between the commercials for strip clubs (*sigh*), there were advertisements for Singleton’s Cleaners (“Your clothes aren’t clean until they’re Singleton’s clean!”), Henry the Hatter, Miley and Miley Shrimp Shack, Babes –n- Braids, City Slicker Shoes and so many other Detroit staples that provided quality service and took pride in their community. Guess what else? They were all Black-owned businesses. These weren’t large, multi-billion dollar corporations, just local business people with a vision. They were small businesses and understood the importance of humility and slow but steady growth. They took pride in producing a quality product. They valued their customers and it showed. If they were doing it back then, why can’t we today? With internet, smart phones and twice the access to resources that they had then, there is no reason that we all can’t have a side hustle (that could turn into a full time gig). We just have to remember to embody the same traits that had us going back to those great businesses we knew back then.
There is no room for fear when you’re in this city. Not because someone’s gonna rob you, but because fear will hold you back from taking in all Detroit has to offer! Detroiters are go-getters who don’t let a little fear get in the way of their ambitions. From fashion (Iklektikk, Sole Sisters, Spectacles) to art (The MOCAD, Detroit Artists Market), to politics, to business ventures (where else do kids come up with the idea to sell cold water on the streets? GENIUS!), Detroiters can do it all! The chance that they might fail doesn’t serve as a barrier. More like a shot of adrenaline in their veins. It propels them forward with an even greater intensity and drive to excel. Detroiters live out loud. Our style, our presence, our take no prisoners attitude, everyone can tell when their in the presence of a true Detroiter. We are unapologetic about it. That’s what I’ve learned, to be unapologetically who I am and live my life authentic to me. We cannot let fears of how we may be received stop us from getting out there, networking and working together to make it happen. For ourselves and ultimately Detroit as a whole!
Realistic Self Perception
Perhaps the biggest lesson Detroit has taught me is how to make an honest assessment of self and maintain a positive self-image in spite of what others may have to say. Does Detroit have her issues? AB-SO-FRICKIN’-LUTELY!!! But what city doesn’t? For every bad piece of press Detroit gets, there are bunches of people working diligently, behind the scenes, with no fan fair, to make Detroit the beautiful place that people (who care to look for it) know and love. The same is true with people. There is always gonna be someone to bring up that time you really stuck your foot in your mouth or the money you borrowed and didn’t pay back. Are those things true? Probably. Is that the total sum of who you are? Not even. What does one do when people constantly point out your negative traits, so much so to the extent that it would appear that you have no positive ones? The same thing Detroit does. Own your junk, figure out ways to clean it up, but don’t forget to celebrate the beauty, strength and tenacity that makes you, YOU!
Rhea J. Cooper is a proud graduate of Cass Technical High School and Eastern Michigan University. She currently works in northwest Detroit, with a diversion program for at-risk youth that is always looking for volunteers. If you’d like to make a difference in the life of a child, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Smooth vocals and an impeccable stage presence is what sets Detroit’s own rising recording artist, GweNation, apart from the rest. Not only does she exude skill and a knack for ‘killing it’ in the heat of the moment, GweNation also carries herself with class and a business savvy unknown to a host of local artists. Her reputation is not one of a novice- her musical resume is almost a scroll and the respect she’s garnered among her peers sets the record straight for naysayers.
Whether it be an intimate setting or a theater, GweNation is going to give you an experience you will remember for years to come. You can download her free mixtape at gwenation.bandcamp.com as well as listen to tracks from her forthcoming album. Take a walk in her stilletos and follow her on Twitter @Gwenation for the latest news. Tickets are on sale now at Chene Park box office or Ticketmaster…SUPPORT!
Here is just a taste of her rocking the crowd in an impromptu guest solo with PJ Morton at The Music Hall’s Jazz Cafe.
Everyone who has been to college, and even some of those without the desire to go, know that in order to receive a degree you must elect a major and minor concentration. The same college graduates soon realize shortly thereafter graduation that just because classes are over doesn’t mean there isn’t much more to learn once walking across the stage and taking hold of their diploma. There is still a Lifelong University that you will have to enroll in without your own permission and it certainly isn’t a building of brick & mortar- but a college of the mind.
The chapters of our lives are determined by the decisions we make on a daily basis. Unfortunately we live in a society that sets ridiculous standards of living and they help influence these decisions. This is why it is important to make your happiness and well-being a priority and not keeping up with the “Joneses”, “Kardashians”, Carters and Benjamins. In order to be happy with your current state and ultimately attract more, contentment must be your major. Money is the byproduct of happiness so that is what we should spend our time investing our productivity into.
When you minor in not giving a rat’s hairy behind about what you lack, the decisions you make and expectations you place on yourself will be towards building your overall character and not tearing down your esteem due to your supposed societal shortcomings. You may not have long hair or a shapely figure. You may not be the head of your own business or drive a Mercedes Benz, but you are alive and have a means to take care of yourself and a way to get around. You have life, health and strength, so breathe and keep on studying yourself, your happiness and what your overall purpose is. We are all here to be the best “us” we can be to inspire others to do the same.
So go on…get to inspiring yourself and someone else!
There was a fresh sneaker smell in the air and a warm, homecoming presence that enveloped everyone who walked into Burn Rubber to greet Detroit native Zo! and celebrate the release of Just Visiting Three. The multi-talented musician/ producer was all smiles surrounded by family, friends and supporters and we enjoyed listening to the current album and browsing the store.
Then pops in my girl Brandi who brought by chocolate covered strawberries on behalf of Yum Delish (click here for the feature post on the company) since Monike was out of town.
And after he drooled over the treats and cracked hilarious jokes about having an intimate time with them, I got my picture with the big homie!
Download Just Visiting Three here (for FREE) and support! I can’t wait for The Foreign Exchange to come back and give us another breathtaking live music experience!
A voice that will give you chills and a personality that will bring a smile to your face, Kristopher Lamont is R & B’s rising star out of Detroit. If any of my fellow Detroiters attended the Eric Roberson concert at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African History back in March, then you would remember Mr. Lamont as the opening act at the first show. He is the singer who rolls around on the floor and runs up and down stairs, in and out of auditoriums while keeping perfect pitch. He is the artist who tantalizes your senses as he sings up and down the musical scales. He will leave you amazed and caught up in his rapture of pure vocal ability and talent. You will remember his name and you will crave to see his live shows at every chance.
So why not check him out? This Wednesday, July 20th at The Key Club, downtown. DJ L Boog Presents “Open Mic Jam” is held every Wednesday with building-packing featured artists to cap off the evening, such as Mr. Lamont. You don’t want to miss the live experience, the atmosphere, and the talent. Distinguished Detroit will be in the building!
Have you ever heard of an “earlace”? About three months ago I was oblivious to the unique and different piece of jewelry that looks like a necklace, but connected to your ears. I had arrived to the owner of Gracefully Chique, Stephanie’s home when she greeted me at the door wearing one. At first, my eyes popped out of their sockets in amazement, then I gave her the “girl where you get that from” face, followed by the actual words. When Ms. Chique, herself, replied that she made it, you know I asked her to make me one! Once I was bitten by the Chique bug I couldn’t stop purchasing feather earrings, even more earlaces and ringlets. Stephanie, a true Chique Chic is a talented entrepreneur ushering in a new wave of fashion.
Gracefully Chique presents handcrafted, quality jewelry designed and created with passion. The unique jewelry line is created to give you a trendsetting and chique look.
Stephanie Collier is purpose driven and filled with determination. She posesses a passion and love for jewelry, accessories and desires to share this love with the world. Gracefully Chique was created to offer sophisticated and affordable handcrafted jewelry of quality. With this collection, Stephanie hopes that anyone who wears Gracefully Chique jewelry knows that they are fashionable and “so chique”, that they grace all who are near with their presence.
Please be sure to visit her website www.gracefullychique.com and support Detroit’s own! Gracefully Chique will be featured at this upcoming Wednesday’s Open Mic Jam at The Key Club from 9p to 1am, downtown. Come on out and meet Stephanie and view her wonderful merchandise!
I happened to be present the night this photo was taken. It was a magical night at the Magic Stick (pun intended), in Midtown, when the wonderfully organic collective called The Foreign Exchange rocked the stage. I was scared we were going to collapse to the first level because you could feel the floor boards jumping. I was also anticipating an ugly cry from Zo! when Phonte told us to show him some love- and we did it Detroit-style. There was non-stop clapping, whistles, applause and smiles for the Detroit homie and I just knew I was going to see one tear drop. Not. one. came. But he was smiling from ear-to-ear as you see on this album cover above, and the love is much deserved!
I have been doing a mean chair dance to every tune on Just Visiting Three since it’s been in my possession Tuesday morning. My Twitter timeline was buzzing about the album and Then Zo! graced us with a “Studio Campfire Story” on his Tumblr blog, giving us the complete rundown of how he made the magic happen on Steely Dan’s “Black Cow” remake. The intricately written account of his passion and effort made me feel like I was an actual fly on the wall during the process. Its enthusiasm, hard work and commitment like this that reassures me Zo! is crafting music my future grand children will appreciate.
With this being said, I am headed to his album release party in a few. It will be at Burn Rubber, a very jazzy sneaker store in Royal Oak. Come on out, the party starts at 6 and ends at 8pm. I will have updates on the site tomorrow for the folks who couldn’t make it- I’m gracious like that!
How could I forget to tell you? The album is free-ninety-nine! Click here and GET IT NOW!
Hello Future Readers!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by and check out the site! To all of our future readers and features, we pray that this site serves you in every way possible when it comes to music, media and business contacts from the Metropolitan Detroit area. With a new renaissance on the rise of artistic culture in the city, it was only fitting to birth a site to serve this particular community that will usher in the rebirth of Detroit. Contrary to national and even local opinions, the city of Detroit and its surrounding areas are not in complete shambles- we are rising from the ashes and showcasing the spirit of creativity, dexterity and class.
Please join our fan page on facebook, say #whatupdoe on Twitter and leave plenty of comments and feedback. Positivity is the vibe of this site and is encouraged with all comments and suggestions. For direct concerns, feel free to email us at email@example.com and we will gladly accommodate your requests.
Peace & Love!
When LiLi first asked me to write this post I got super excited and a million ideas started running through my head. From friendship, to dreams, to destiny, to love, I didn’t know where to begin. As I sifted through all my thoughts the one word that remained emblazoned in my mind was DISTINGUISHED (to set apart as different, to make prominent conspicuous or eminent, to single out or honor with special attention).
Everyday when we turn on the news we are inundated with stories of a city filled with poverty and crime. A city that has no hope for the future. If we allowed ourselves to feed in to these myths we would believe that Detroit was a dying city. But Distinguished Detroit knows better. We have access to the up and comers, the movers and shakers, the artists, entrepreneurs, educators, musicians, writers and dreamers that are dedicated to giving back to a city that has breathed life into them.
As our mission statement says, “We are eminent. We are noteworthy. We are distinguished. We are DETROIT.”
*Would you like the opportunity to inspire your fellow Detroiters? If you want to be a guest writer for our inspirational posts, please email written submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with “inspirational submission” in your subject line. Please accompany your post with a brief bio and optional photograph*