A shop, whose proprietors are every bit as charming as its unique hand-embroidered goods, sits tucked-away a small corner in Southwest Detroit.
But it won’t go unnoticed long, thanks to the effervescent mother-daughter duo behind the Ropa Tipica Artesano 7 Regiones shop (Typical Artisan Clothing 7 Regions).
This multi-generational business imports handmade or embroidered goods from Oaxaca, Mexico, and some. While Elodia Santiago hands out business cards and shows potential customers her booth, the big-time salesperson seems to be her daughter, Montserrat.
It may be hard to haggle when the bubbly eight-year-old crisscrosses event floors, tells people about the vibrant items in her mother’s shop and shows off the ones she’s wearing.
“She is a natural. One time when we arrived, a security guard told her he liked her shirt. As the event progressed she disappeared, and I found her pulling him through the crowd towards me to pick something out,” says her mother.
Santiago includes Monserrat in the business because she wants to instill in her the same entrepreneurial spirit she’s had deep inside since she was a girl.
The little ‘people person’ is also interested in learning embroidery when she is older, so she too can add to the merchandise on sale, says Santiago, who learned the craft at age seven when she watched women work in her native Mexico. They were making the items for sale to tourists, all of which sold for less than seemed appropriate for the time spent on each piece.
After family connections brought her to Detroit, she saw an opportunity to provide her new community with authentic Oaxacan items while supporting the women back home. Her products include clothing, bedding, bags, dolls and more and are the only hand-embroidered high-quality Oaxacan pieces, often one-of-a-kind, available in Detroit.
“Now I sell it because I want to give it the value that it deserves,” she says.
Oaxaca is a beautiful state. The culture is as vibrant as the precious embroidered goods Santiago sells. It is also a state that relies on tourism. “For many people, one always has to sell, keep it moving. It is like an instinct we could say because it’s inculcated from when one is young,” she says.
Santiago learned many of the skills she needed to thrive in Detroit at ProsperUS Detroit. She graduated from its small business training program in 2012. That 20-week entrepreneur training program helps participants realize their potential, develop a business plan and helps set them up as business owners, leaders and potential employers in their communities.
ProsperUS is designed to empower low and moderate income, immigrant and minority individuals, strengthen neighborhood economies, create jobs, serve residents with new goods and services, and cultivate community-based leadership.
The skills Santiago learned helped her expand her sales at product shows and holiday and cultural festivals across the region and connect with new clients.
“Businesses like Elodia’s inspire and give hope to others in the neighborhood that they too can be business owners and role models in their community,” says ProsperUS Detroit Director Kimberly Faison.
Santiago plans to take more ProsperUS classes to help move her business forward. Her goal is to expand her products and move to a storefront location. She currently runs Ropa Tipica Artesano 7 Regiones out of her home.
Those additional classes “will allow me to continue my dream to be able to provide a better future for my daughter,” she says.
It is that entrepreneurial spirit that motivates so many immigrants and it is the spirit of hope and inspiration Santiago wants to pass on to her daughter. She wants her to always think big.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go
This excerpted story originally on Global Detroit, an editorial partner of TheHUB. You can see the full version of the original story written by Beth Szurpicki here. ProsperUS Detroit and Global Detroit both work to serve immigrant and minority entrepreneurs. To see other stories highlighting local entrepreneurs and their economic contributions visit Global Detroit. Translation provided by: Alejandra Romero.