From where Khary Frazier stands, Detroit’s erupting with creativity that seems to be oozing out just about everywhere and, sometimes, where you’d least expect to see it.
The singer, business owner and innovator is among those small businesses forging ahead and, in many regards, leading the pack.
Frazier runs Detroit is Different, an online magazine that presents Detroit culture and gives clients creative outlets to promote their businesses – everything from podcasts to graphic design, video production and audio design as well as a robust social media component. His offerings run to all corners of the creative spectrum so entrepreneurs can bring their ideas and imaginationto life.
“No matter what you do creatively, it’s a business,” he says. “Many of the creative types I know in Detroit don’t realize this. Instead, they think they can put their art or music out there and people will automatically appreciate it. We, as artists, need to push it forward.”
To that end, Frazier recently held the grand opening of the company’s first creative incubator, an operation housed in his family’s former residence at the end of a short block on Clements Street just off the Lodge. Frazier owns the home and the one next to it.
The large lot to the right served as a tented space for the grand opening where Frazier offered culinary creations from Cooking With Que and set up a painting studio – a canvas with the Detroit skyline sketched out in pencil to be filled in by anyone’s brush strokes.
It’s part of the freewheeling notion behind Frazier’s thinking.
Many who own businesses in Detroit – 62,000, to be exact – are small businesses, according to the 2012 U.S. Census. Part of what’s going to make them succeed is knowing how to send out the right messaging from every possible angle.
“There are so many ways to be creative with what you do,” Frazier says. “You’re not just a rapper or just a painter. Artists need to know how to market themselves.”
Inside Frazier’s incubator are multiple creative venues. There’s a sound and recording studio, a podcast studio, a video suite, and an editing suite for graphic design.
The ideal client is someone who wants a very interactive media platform. Frazier and his team can assemble any combination of ingredients.
His operation is divided into two like-minded businesses. Detroit is Different is for business-to-consumer ventures, and Creative Differences Marketing is for business-to-business endeavors.
Frazier founded the former in the spring of 2014. The hip-hop artist and creator of such songs as “I Oh My” and “Make It Last Forever” found friends recognized his creativity and wanted to tap into it.
“A lot of people know me as a singer and artist, and liked my album covers and flyers,” he says. “When they started to ask if I could design something similar for them I would, but didn’t charge at first. Slowly but surely, people started to pay, and I said, ‘I think this is a business.’”
Soon afterward, Frazier added a marketing degree from Walsh College to the mix. It’s his niche, a place he finds intensely interesting.
“Americans are such consumers. We know a lot about marketing, but just don’t know the metrics,” he says.
Call it branding, although Frazier likes to think of it as helping people tell their story. The company’s clients run the gamut from Motor City Match to Live6 Alliance, Perkins Law Group, Eastside Community Network and his own father, who’s a CPA.
An online training course is in the works, something a lot cooler than what his dad’s used to. “We were in negotiations for a few years, but we finally had him come on as a client two months ago.”
As with most entrepreneurs, Frazier’s thoughts usually run to expansion.
He knows he’s on to something but plans first to merely expand by buying more properties on the block. “Some may not feel comfortable in my neighborhood but we’ll make it happen. It takes a while,” he says.
“Somebody has to put their foot in the ground first.”
His plan is to keep moving forward, and there are plenty of opportunities. According to the City of Detroit there are 24 women-owned businesses and 57 minority-owned businesses certified with the city. There are many other businesses in the city that are not certified.
Frazier wants to tap into their creativity, and move them full speed ahead.
He’s now an advocate extraordinaire for his home city and for developing local talent.
“I’d like to work with more clients who want to go that extra mile, like businesses that look at their black-and-white collateral material and instead want it to be Claymation,” he says, referring to the TV production method once popular in children’s shows. “This whole new world of online content and social media urges us to think outside the box.”
At the heart of it all is that Frazier finds connection in the community. “The people make the connection. Detroiters make the beauty,” he says.
Editor’s Note: Detroit is Different is located at 1652 Clements in Detroit. Call (313) 355-8006 or visit them on Facebook.
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.