For nearly six decades, Detroit's story has been one of relentless erosion of its once-mighty manufacturing base, but even as the Motor City faces a long bankruptcy, a clutch of small producers has moved in to rekindle the "Made in Detroit" brand, Reuters reported.
Making products ranging from bicycles to luxury watches and "sleeping bag" coats designed for the homeless, these small firms have tapped into a surprising amount of demand for goods made in a city more commonly associated today with failure and decline.
"Our customers come from all walks of life and are looking for a little bit of soul and something that is authentically Detroit," said Eric Yelsma, founder of Detroit Denim Co., which produces handmade jeans. "We can't make them fast enough."
Unlike deep-pocketed Dan Gilbert, co-founder of online mortgage provider Quicken Loans Inc., who has helped spur a downtown boom here by moving in 9,000 employees and spending $1 billion in the process, Detroit's new entrepreneurs are winging it.
"None of us have ever done this before," said Zak Pashak, who has invested $2 million in Detroit Bikes, which will start production of its "urban bike" model in August and aims to build 40,000 bicycles a year. Read more.