Avenue of Fashion shop owners open hearts and doors

Avenue of Fashion shop owners open hearts and doors

Finding the right gift for anyone can be a challenge. For young women who’ve faced hardship in their lives it can be even harder to know what gesture will have the greatest impact.

Fifty youths will receive a gesture from a Detroit businesswoman who can relate to some of their experiences Aug. 17 when Alternatives for Girls and its Rise N’ Shine summer camp take a field trip to the Avenue of Fashion in northwest Detroit.

Along with girls ages 7 to 14, 20 youth leaders and 10 staff members that will visit various businesses in the historic retail district, to create art. Love Travels Imports, a fair-trade, artisan shop, was approached by Alternative for Girls for a donation to the program, but the shop’s owner made a counter-offer.

“You don’t always have to actually have money to provide an experience. We’re donating our time and expertise to make an impact.” -Yvette Jenkins, Owner, Love Travels Imports

“Being a small business in Detroit, I just didn’t have the funds to donate, however I was more than happy to do a tour on Livernois, and that’s how it all started,” says Jenkins.

In 1985 Alternative for Girls opened its doors in Detroit to steer girls and young women away from prostitution, street life and unplanned pregnancy. Jenkins, who says her gesture to host the field trip has a personal meaning, will give an inspirational speech to the girls about a change in her life she made at age 12, noting she “no longer was a child” at that age.

Yvette Jenkins welcomes Alternatives for Girls event organizers to the Art in Motion ceramics studio and gallery located on Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion. Photo by D. Seaton

“If I can make a young person, especially a young girl, smile, feel good and provide something that is fun, then I think it’s just wonderful,” Jenkins says.

With a full day planned, the girls will start arriving at the Avenue of Fashion at 10 a.m. and will disperse into groups ceramic works, followed by lunch and other activities.

“We’re going to have the children make a ceramic piece and that ceramic piece is going to be incorporated into a larger design and art piece which we’re going to display during the Detroit Design Festival,” adds Jenkins.

Jenkins approached businesses in the area to see if they were also willing to be part of the event.

Kay Willingham, owner of the Art In Motion ceramics studio and gallery, agreed to host the art activities.

“I’ve been working with youth pretty much all my life,” says Willingham. “We’re always approached about trying to give back to the community.”

Also participating are Joe’s Gallery and Detroit Fiber Works where the girls will participate in a textile workshop. C. Grantston Bullard will also participate in a talk about fashion design.

Small shops are the mainstay of our neighborhoods. Open the door and look inside and you will discover dreamers and doers who embody the spirit and energy of Detroit’s entrepreneurial class. We invite you to meet them inside our Small Shops series, sponsored by Bank of America.

The names of those youth who are part of the larger art project will be displayed, and the girls will be invited to the festival where it’s showcased.

“You don’t always have to actually have money to provide an experience,” Jenkins says. “We’re donating our time and expertise to make an impact.”

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










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