Thousands of people waited in lines to chow down at food trucks and explore the wares of more than 250 small businesses and independent retailers at Detroit’s Eastern Market on Sunday.
The All Things Detroit Shopping Experience and Food Truck Rally — founded by Jennyfer Crawford who specializes in branding and promotions for small businesses — featured everything from Etsy shop owners to some of Detroit’s favorite homegrown storefronts, as well as independent publishers and entrepreneurial artists.
Music blared as shoppers stopped to pick up cans of Faygo while perusing some potential holiday gifts.
Terri Moody, a Detroit native and a natural hair consultant who owns of The Natural Lyfe, smiled from a table showcasing essential oils and burning incense.
About 7 years ago, Moody said, she was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“Didn’t have it, thank God,” she said. “But at that time, I decided I needed to pay more attention to what I was putting in my body and on my body,”
Moody stopped smoking, stopped drinking sodas, gave up eating pork and beef, and stopped perming her hair.
The hair products on the market, “weren’t really natural,” she said.
“So I developed my own line of all-natural certified organic shea butters, coconut oils, black seed oils, all kinds of essential oils, natural hair products, incense, wonderful items for all-natural,” she said.
It’s since been six years since starting the business and her fifth year participating the All Things Detroi event.
“I think it’s very important to get the word out and so we can keep the money in Detroit, and we can help single mothers and single fathers, and widows and divorcees to kind of restart their lives,” she said.
“Jennyfer’s such an inspiration, she started with little to nothing and look at her now. So it gives us all inspiration. We can do the same thing and help others as we go.”
Angela Young of Detroit had her 11-month-old baby Avery in tow as she perused the booths — her husband was grabbing food from a truck.
“We love it … This is like our third time coming, and we always have fun trying new stuff,” Young said. “You get more unique stuff, and just keep the neighborhood happy.”
Plus, there’s food.
“We got cookies, popcorn… we’re greedy, we got cheesecake, we got some of everything so far. Lots of food, we like the food,” she said.
All Things Detroit has drawn more than 12,000 shoppers to Eastern Market each time it’s held. It grew out an idea that Crawford had six years ago.
Crawford said she started All Things Detroit from her one-bedroom apartment in Detroit’s Lafayette Park.
“I didn’t have a great job, so I wanted to do something to support people who have a passion for what they love,” Crawford told the Free Press.
She used her rent money to jumpstart the first event.
“The entire event is dedicated to supporting small business,” she said. “We’re supporting to shop local, because you’re feeding families, you’re helping people do what they love, but you’re also helping them support themselves and their families.”
Crawford’s firm Ask Jennyfer, produces All Things Detroit without the help of any sponsors, while also building platforms for small businesses, like an online marketplace for independent retailers and a ticketing site that entrepreneurs can use for their events.
Placing clothes atop a ruffled table cloth and putting out Rice Krispie treats for shoppers with her son Javar, Eboni Chavers, of Detroit’s North Rosedale Park, said she founded the online children’s boutique Denim & Roses with business partner Ena Lawson in 2016.
A first-time vendor at All Things Detroit, Chavers said they’ve always wanted to be a part of the event.
“I thought this was wonderful,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work that we put in.”
Chavers said she and Lawson are both mothers and they started their business after struggling to find clothes for their kids that were different, and more like “shrunken down adult clothes for children.” “We specialize in unique designs for children from… size 2T to 14, and we have a mixture of boys and girls clothes,” she said. “Our motto is: Where cool meets classic.”
Anika Khan of Troy and best friend Rebecca Jankoviak of Lake Orion were among the shoppers.
Khan said it was her first time attending, at Jankoviak’s invitation, and she was having a great time.
“It’s nice to see local artists and buy from them and found out the cool things that everybody’s making,” Khan said. “This is such a great way to learn about the other businesses and get more eyes on it.”
Already carrying a full bag, Khan found organic catnip for her anxious feline, plus some soap from Rose and Perry, an all-natural bath and body company owned by Crystal Charleston of Canton.
“I like that (Charleston) is a person of color, because she has similar skin problems as I do, so she gave me recommendations on some of the soaps to help with dry skin, especially in Detroit winters,” said Khan, who is Bangladeshi.
Jankoviak added that it’s actually her third or fourth time coming to All Things Detroit and it’s always amazing to see how many there are.
“It’s a really good place to get some Christmas shopping done, do some splurging on yourself,” she said. “I have friends that just got married, so there’s a bunch of things I could get as a belated wedding gift, and then there’s things for babies, because friends just had a baby.”