By Sarah E. Teller

WHEN SUBURBAN FORD MOVED INTO FERNDALE, the company had some work to do in and around the existing facility. But this didn’t stop the family-owned business from putting down roots. Suburban Ford’s Platform President, Ron MacEachern, said, “Our company normally buys a store in a geographic area that we can develop into a larger footprint. If we have a large footprint, we can do more.”

Suburban began operations in Ferndale with the Buick GMC lot on Woodward in 2012 and acquired the Ford lot two years later. “When we got here, some major remodeling needed to be done,” explained MacEachern, including getting rid of a rodent infestation and remediating the water. “We sunk $5 million into a total campus remodel,” he disclosed. Part of that remodel included landscape improvements with greenery and brick pavers added to the front of the building. “The City asked us to do this,” MacEachern said. “We lost parking because of it, but we were happy to cooperate. We added to the beautification of Woodward Avenue.”

According to MacEachern and General Manager Jeff Huvaere, the company started with one parking lot and also a house kiddy-corner from the area. They also bought out a few other homes over time, making offers over list price. MacEachern explained, “The people who lived in these homes knocked on our door and told us they were interested in selling.” The renovations paid off, and Suburban Ford quickly expanded. Staff increased substantially to 75 employees. However, the rapid expansion came at a price and parking and other issues soon arose.

In November 2018, Suburban issued a mailer to local residents that read: “While the dealership has been through a lot of physical changes and growth…we understand that you as our neighbors have been impacted by those changes as well, with increased customer traffic, construction traffic and noise and increased street parking activity on Silman and Jewell Street.”

SUBURBAN SCHEDULED A PUBLIC MEETING For December 10, 2018 regarding “the dealership’s operations and future proposed plans,” as specified in a letter distributed by the City of Ferndale. “I don’t think they expected a standing-room-only crowd to voice their concerns,” resident Roberta Kuhn said of the meeting. “But those who have been impacted the most were there. They’re concerned about their property values, safety, and the impact on the neighborhood of tearing down old homes zoned residential to make parking lots.’”

“Progress is uncomfortable for some people,” MacEachern said of the meeting’s outcome. “But for every complaint we’ve gotten, we’ve received at least that many compliments.” Of the parking situation, he said assuredly, “We don’t park [cars] there illegally, and they’re not there overnight.” Huvaere added, “We haven’t gotten one parking ticket I can think of since we’ve been here.”

Some residents believe ‘no parking’ signs have been pulled from certain areas so the dealership isn’t issued tickets. And they’ve noticed other problems, such as an incident of antifreeze leaking onto surrounding streets.

Kuhn said, “There was a car parked across the street from my house where it is legal to park. However, it was leaking antifreeze. I went to the City and showed a picture of it to Code Enforcement, so he drove over and talked to the service managers and they had it towed. Everyone around here has cats and dogs. I’m worried about our animals and the environment.” She added, “There was also a mechanic working on a car right in front of my house. There is no parking on the north side of Silman. Another big issue has been mechanics test-driving cars, fast-braking, etc. up and down the street.”

“ANOTHER BIG CONCERN WAS THE PLAN to tear down five homes at the same time; four on Silman and one on Jewell. Some of these homes are close to 100 years old. Neighbors are concerned about lead paint, asbestos and other toxic materials that would be released in the environment and the adjacent homes.”

“Other issues discussed included home values, conserving greenspace, snow removal, limited street corner visibility due to parked cars along Woodward, and scattered trash and debris. In fairness, some of these issues have been addressed since the meeting. However, rezoning residential for parking is the pending concern.”

MacEachern responded, “We have never been cited for any environmental thing. We have never had a parking violation. Yes, we have vehicles parked on the side streets, but we have a strict rule about where employees are supposed to perform test drives. We also have rules for where customers can test drive vehicles.”

“I can tell you this,” MacEachern said. “As far as any antifreeze, we are diligent about following OSHA and safety guidelines.” “Otherwise, we’d lose our license,” Huvaere said. “The bottom line is there are a few unhappy neighbors and parking is a legitimate concern we’re working with the City on. There’s a designated test drive route,” Huvaere added. MacEachern said, “We’re hitting max capacity, and we need a couple hundred parking spots.”

BOTH HUVAERE AND MACEACHERN SAID addressing residents’ concerns is their top priority. “I know I plan to stay here. I love Ferndale,” Huvaere said. “I was working in Sterling Heights for seven years before I came here, and there’s a community feel to Ferndale that there wasn’t there. We get the sense that residents just want to be in the know, and we would too. We’re here to stay.”

Justin Lyons, Planning Manager at the City of Ferndale, said there are no future meetings in the books with the City to discuss parking, explaining, “Suburban’s team was going to review the feedback given at the December community meeting and decide their next steps. The request to expand parking would be driven by Suburban and is not a City-led project. The City would review the request once received and would notify residents in the immediate area via the email list started at the community meeting and mail. The most recent proposal by Suburban would likely require rezoning, which requires public hearings and public notice via mail and newspaper at least 15 days prior to a meeting.” He suggested, “Residents should use SeeClickFix for issues related to parking and contact the police non-emergency line, 248-541-3650, for speeding or other safety issues. Suburban Ford’s management team has also encouraged residents to reach out directly to them.”

By Sarah E. Teller

VERY RECENTLY, THERE WERE FOUR NEARLY LIFE-SIZED STATUES OF GIRAFFES standing in the last of Ferndale’s large green spaces adjacent to the controversial Pinecrest Holdings mixed housing development that’s been underway for quite some time.

Nearby, a sign read: “Giraffes are the first to flee danger. A developer wants to clearcut the woods, dig up the soil/contamination will spread over our homes and FHS students. Save our last green space!” Not long after being placed, however, the statues and the sign were removed by local law enforcement.

According to the artist and sculptor responsible for the message (who wishes to remain anonymous), “Giraffes are the first critters to flee an area when there’s severe strife. It goes back to a native, mythological belief that because of their long necks, giraffes can see trouble before it happens. They can see into the future and know when something’s coming.”

He said he wanted to make a statement about eliminating the city’s last green space, especially because he considers himself a “friend to the environment” and uses only natural materials in his art.

“There were four giraffes altogether – a mom, dad, and two kids. Police cut down the sign. The little ones are gone. The mom and dad have been knocked down. All in all, I have about four months of work in it and $350, including 37 yards of fabric, some jute cord, 200 feet of chicken wire, and spray paint. As a nature lover, this green space is important to me. There are old trees there that will be cut down. The developer said they’re going to save as many trees a possible, but what does that mean? Before you know it, they’ll just say they couldn’t save anything.”

URBAN PLANNING MASTER’S DEGREE CANDIDATE, Leah Deasy, provided some additional insight into the status of the development project. “Process-wise, I believe the City has received application materials from the developer, Pinecrest Holdings LLC, seeking site plan approval for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) on the two parcels south of the high school on Pinecrest. The last word from City staff was that these materials are in the process of being reviewed. They have not yet been made public.” She added, “Pending completion of the application and staff review, the PUD formal application could come before the Planning Commission for a vote on December 5 or 19. Before a vote, the Planning Commission will take public comment on the project. If approved by the Planning Commission, the PUD moves on to City Council for approval.”

Jordan Twardy, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Ferndale, confirmed, “The project team is currently responding to feedback from their last appearance at the Planning Commission in July 2018 as well as the recent community meeting in October 2018. Critical next steps include a more detailed site plan and a development agreement. If those pieces are completed by the developers and submitted to the City, they could appear before the Planning Commission.”

NOT ALL RESIDENTS ARE PLEASED, HOWEVER. “I would say that there has been a lot of concern from residents on the environmental conditions of the site,” said Deasy. “Residents are very concerned, thoughtful and deliberate. We want to know exactly what risks we are facing from contaminants at the site currently and what risks we could be exposed to by disrupting it. What I’ve observed so far is that residents still have so many unanswered questions that they don’t feel anyone has enough information yet to responsibly make a decision of this magnitude.”

She continued, “The community also feels hurt by the misdeeds of past landowners at this site – Ethyl Corporation using the forest as a dumping ground for trash and chemicals and the needless destruction of Ferndale’s only Albert Kahn-designed house, circa 2012. It is a hard pill to swallow to think that no one can be held responsible for past actions at this site and that we have little choice but to consent to more destruction for its future.”

The local artist added, “The developer is not being specific about the plans. This is another big problem I have with this. They’re not being honest with us or the City, and the City says it’s private property so they can do anything they want.”

A group of concerned individuals, who’ve coined themselves the Southwest Neighborhood Association, has formed in order to discuss the issues at hand. “There was a meeting with the City. The City is not interested in a parcel of land, and Pinecrest Holdings LLC doesn’t own the land, they only have an option to buy. Just come out and be honest with us – no ifs, ands or buts.”

Deasy explained, “There is clear consensus from residents, however, that any development should be concentrated on the south portion of the site and that the forest area towards the mid-north end of the site should be preserved for the benefit of the community. We desire to see dense, walkable, mixed-use development on the 8 Mile frontage of the property, at the corner of 8 Mile and Pinecrest, and for the 15 acres of forest to remain intact. We’d like the nature that has made this site its home to stay and want the process of bio-remediation that has already started onsite to continue. We think if the developer would think more ‘innovatively’ about the relationship between current and future land use onsite and the value of the ecosystem services already in existence there, we could have something really special.”

Twardy addressed this concern. “The project, if approved as a PUD, will require the preservation of a significant number of old growth trees as well as the provision of north-south and east-west pathways for public use throughout the site,” he said. “In response to public feedback, the developers will also be looking at ways to increase the size and accessibility of open green space and wooded areas. Additionally, space is being set aside –currently proposed for the eastern portion of the site – for a defined public space, which, if the project is approved, would be designed with public input.”

THE ANONYMOUS ARTIST SAID, “There’s a large herd of deer there, coyotes, and it’s home to owls and a couple of species of bats that are endangered. It’s a beautiful place. It really is. It’s been astounding, and it will be heart-wrenching to have it all paved. The City is trying to get revenue generation and tax money, I get it. But it will also cost us money, in additional police and fire resources. And, imagine if you clear-cut everything. Then, it’s August and hasn’t rained in a month to a month and a half. The contamination will scatter, and we’ll all be breathing it and brushing it off our furniture. The students will all breathe it in.”

Addressing clean-up concerns, Twardy said, “The project will be required to, prior to any construction, clean up all contamination in accordance with applicable state and federal environmental standards. The entire site will be required to be cleaned up prior to any development activity. The applicable standards for cleanup also have provisions for ensuring the continued safety of all adjacent and nearby properties. The result would be a situation that is safer and cleaner for the property and surrounding neighborhoods than currently exists today.”

He added, “Additionally, separate from the developer’s efforts, the City has approved funding of up to $20,000 to perform an environmental concerns inventory for the site. We are in the process of also seeing if grant funds can be used to pay for the study. Our goal is to have the study completed in time for the project’s return to the Planning Commission or, at the latest, by the time the project goes forward to City Council for final approval, which would only occur if the Planning Commission were to approve it.”

As far as her personal thoughts regarding the development, Deasy, too, is concerned about the wildlife. “Myself, I often think about the deer. I’m partial to deer and having them intermingled within our city suburbs thrills me. I think that’s something really special to Michigan and Metro Detroit – that we have so many deer and that they are welcome and enjoyed alongside our neighborhoods in places like Troy, Rochester Hills and Farmington Hills,” she said. “A lot of the people focus on the trees on this site – and they are huge and amazing, but they also provide a habitat for deer and this is the only place I know of in Ferndale where deer live. When we remove the last deer habitat in the city, we are unequivocally stating that wildlife is not welcome in Ferndale. I also think the destruction of this forest will have a negative impact on our air quality, heat index and storm water retention that we do not fully understand.”

She added that the communal power of local residents shouldn’t be discounted or ignored. “Regardless of the outcome of this specific site development, neighbors have bonded together to build community. We’ve met and become familiar with people on our blocks and across our corner of the city and Royal Oak Township. We’ve organized a neighborhood association that we intend to formalize by seeking guidance from more established organizations and to continue working to make our awesome community even better. We are working together to harness our communal power and we have lots of ideas.”

By: Ingrid Sjostrand

Hazel Park is using the power of a word to promote positive, inspiring change in the city and the word they’re wielding is “HOPE.”

Through a permanent art installation inspired by the work of Robert Indiana and his famous “LOVE” sculpture in Central Park, the bright red, metal piece spelling out the letters of HOPE sits in front of the Hazel Park Historical Museum, 45 E Pearl, for all to see and create their own meaning.

The project is a collaboration of several organizations in the city, including the Hazel Park Historical Commission, Hazel Park Creative Arts which funded the project, and the Community Engagement team. Superintendent of Hazel Park Schools, Dr. Amy Kruppe, says the team effort made this project possible.

“We have a beautiful Community Engagement committee here in Hazel Park, and we’ve been talking about doing city art projects because our team is really about developing and bringing the city together,” she says. “This piece is just a centerpiece expressing that we’re all hopeful. Without great communities, schools and organizations you don’t have a great city. You have to have all those pieces together.”

The sculpture was built by local artist Richard Gage and his team and sat in front of Tony’s ACE Hardware, at 24011 John R Rd, through the month of October for the City’s “Artober” event. It was painted, moved and unveiled at an event on Saturday, November 5th in its new home at the Historical Museum. During the event, over 60 locals purchased and painted locks to attach to the HOPE piece.

“This is really a tribute to Robert Indiana. My association with it is not on a creative level, I just executed it and helped pull the team’s ideas together,” Gage says. “It’s important for me as an artist that the proper credit goes to who it belongs.”

THE MUSEUM WAS CHOSEN FOR ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO HAZEL PARK and also for its location, says City Council Member, Bethany Holland, who also serves on the Board of Creative Arts as well as the Historical Commission.

“That section of road right there – so many people go by it or have to stop in traffic and are going to see that. My goal is that people will see the sculpture and whatever’s going on in their world at that moment, that word is going to be burned into their brain,” Holland says. “Whatever you’re going through, there’s hope.”

The inspiration for adding locks to the piece came from Kruppe at a time in her life that could have felt hopeless. In October 2017, her husband Frank was diagnosed with lymphoma and they spent a year traveling to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where an art installation was created with painted locks. She shared the story of the project in Hazel Park and HOPE was born.

“It was a really difficult time. It was the hardest year I’ve ever had, but Frank is now in remission and the beautiful thing about this sculpture for me and my family is that out of all of this grows hope and I hope that’s what this art project is going to bring to Hazel Park,” Kruppe says.

People are encouraged to continue to add locks to the sculpture, which can be purchased from the museum during open hours (the first Sunday of each month from noon to 4:00 P.M. and the third Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M.) Tony’s ACE Hardware also sells locks for $3.59, with $2 of every purchase donated to funding after-school activities for Hazel Park Schools.

For more information about the sculpture and additional lock painting dates, follow the Hazel Park Historical Commission & Museum and Hazel Park Creative Arts on Facebook.

Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos By: Bernie Laframboise

HAVE YOU EVER ORDERED SUSHI AND HAD IT ARRIVE AT YOUR TABLE ON FIRE with literal blue flames rising from each roll as it’s placed in front of you?

It’s probably not your typical sushi experience, but it’s commonplace at Inyo Restaurant and Lounge, which is more than your typical sushi restaurant. Katie Pickhover, general manager, describes the menu – located at 22871 Woodward – as “Asian fusion.” And that flaming dish is the Dynamite Roll, their most popular item.

“It is the most-ordered and most-talked-about. The “Dynamite” specialty roll is salmon, crab, avocado, tempura fried and topped with a spicy cream sauce and roe served over fire,” Pickhover says. “We have quite a few table-side ‘wow’ items, sparking questions like ‘what is that?’ and ‘how can I get that?’”

Another one of those ‘wow’ dishes is the Beijing Duck, a three-course meal that can feed up to four and costs only $60.

“Some of our cooler items that aren’t as popular include a table-side Beijing duck: An entire duck comes out, they cut the breast table-side, and it includes two more courses, a choice of soup, lettuce wraps or pan-fried Asian noodles,” she says. “I wish more people ordered it; anything table-side is fun and can create an experience throughout the restaurant.”

THESE SPECIALTY DISHES are just part of what makes Inyo special. Opened in 2009 by Norman Acho and Executive Chef Kenny Wee, they wanted to create a unique concept using their knowledge of multiple international cuisines.

“Customers sometimes come in requesting traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean but our version has Kenny’s new flair on it, which makes it different from other restaurants,” Pickhover says. “Most people like that, but if you are looking for traditional you probably won’t find it here.”

“Kenny has an extensive background in multiple Asian cuisines, creating Asian fusion was some-thing important and he puts his personal twist on everything,” she adds. “He has lived in Malaysia and Melbourne, Australia and takes a lot of inspiration from his childhood and places he grew up. His background and experience aren’t some-thing you’d find in other Asian restaurants.”

Inyo also prides itself on creating custom, seasonal cocktails and offering specials. Each weeknight, customers can come in for deals including half off appetizers on Mondays and more. Their cocktails are often Asian inspired and utilize traditional ingredients.

“We have the luxury of incorporating sake into our drinks and that is something you wouldn’t see if you weren’t at an Asian restaurant,” Pickhover says. “It allows us to create a lot of different flavors. We also try to change our drinks up for the seasons, creating something lighter for summer like the Malaysian butterfly, which was made of muddled cucumber, sake, vodka and elderflower.”

IN THE NINE YEARS SINCE OPENING, Inyo has watched the Ferndale community grow and expand, and they credit a lot of that to City Hall and their support of small businesses.

“The downtown community has been up and coming for so many years, it’s amazing to watch everything develop in this city,” Pickhover says. “Ferndale has a lot of community and the city is great at showing love to small businesses, that really helps with success here. We try to participate in the community as much as possible – through Pridefest, Small Business Saturday and other things.”

Inyo’s hours are 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. Sunday through Tuesday, 11:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M. Wednesday through Friday, and 11:00 A.M. -Midnight on Saturdays. They also have a second location in West Bloomfield.

Story by Maggie Boleyn

THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS SAYS, “Most folks are so afraid of death, by extension, they are afraid of the people who are there to help when there is a death in the family.”

Ferndale and surrounding communities have nothing to fear. “We are honored to serve our community,” says Kelly O’Meara, who serves as business administrator of Spaulding & Curtin Funeral Directors. He is the son-in-law of Patrick Curtin. He and his wife live nearby.

“Funerals and memorial services are for the living,” said O’Meara in an email. “We are here to help navigate a difficult and stressful time. Our caring and compassionate staff aims to personalize each family’s experience to ensure their unique needs and wishes are met. We hope when family and loved ones enter the funeral home, they feel welcome and at home.”

Spaulding & Curtin has been in business for more than a century, serving Ferndale and surrounding communities for 91 years. A four-generation, family-owned-and-operated funeral service firm, Spaulding & Curtin has been at the present location on Nine Mile Road since 1939.

The history of Spaulding & Curtin is one of continuous service. The original founder, Verner Spaulding, entered funeral service in 1905 in Buchanan, Michigan. He moved his business to Rochester in 1911, where he operated an undertaking and furniture establishment until moving to Ferndale in 1927.

Verner Spaulding and Albert Steinbaugh operated a funeral home on Vester Avenue until 1938 when the firm became Spaulding & Son. In 1939, Verner and his son, Merton, moved the operation to their newly constructed facility on the present site at 500 West Nine Mile Road. This location is said to be the first funeral home built as such in Oakland County.

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF FUNERAL HISTORY, in Victorian times, funerals mainly took place inside the family home. The deceased person was displayed in the front parlor. During the early 20th century, funeral service practitioners began establishing funeral homes, where bodies were transported and prepared for funeral services. During this time, front parlors became known as “living rooms,” because they were no longer used to display the dead. Michigan is one of nine states that no longer allow families to conduct funeral services in a non-funeral home.

In 1960, Merton and son-in-law, Patrick Curtin, who was born and raised in Ferndale, formed the partnership Spaulding & Curtin. Kevin Curtin, Patrick’s son, Merton’s grandson and Verner’s great-grandson, joined the firm in 1984 and eventually became the managing partner until his death in 2007. The funeral home continues to be owned and operated by the Curtin Family.  Kevin’s wife, Patricia, currently owns the business and resides within the Ferndale area.

“Externalizing grief helps people deal with their loss. Funerals are important because they allow the grieved to be supported by their friends and family during what is often the most difficult time of their lives. Funerals also celebrate the life a loved one. The sharing of stories and memories allows us to see how our loved one touched other’s lives,” says O’Meara.

One trend in funeral services is pre-planning. “Pre-planning ensures an individual’s wishes are known and fulfilled at the time of their funeral,” said O’Meara. “When pre-planning is pursued with family members input, valuable conversations take place before the event of death. This relieves stress on those left behind.”

O’Meara is mindful of the responsibility to the community, and appreciates the loved ones who need his services. “We know that families have choices when choosing a funeral home, and we value our clients’ trust when choosing Spaulding & Curtin,” he concludes.

BY: Ingrid Sjostrand

HONEY IS A SWEET, DELICIOUS ADDITION TO ANY KITCHEN, but your generic grocery store jar isn’t giving you all the benefits that honey has to offer and, chances are,
it’s not best for the bees either.

That’s where Alison John comes in. Her company, Honey Help, delivers pure, fresh honey products to homes through parts of Metro Detroit, all of which have been harvested from her hives in Richmond, Ferndale and Northville.

John’s love for honey began growing up in Richmond, Michigan, despite a fear of being stung. After learning the difference between aggressive yellow jacket wasp and the less sting-hungry honey bee, she decided to start beekeeping and wanted to take the most humane approach.

Many beekeepers feed their bees sugar and water mixtures, but John learned bees can’t metabolize sucrose and it causes the bees to get sick. She came up with a better solution.

“My process of beekeeping is to preserve the integrity of my bees first and foremost,” she says.

“I only feed my bee’s their own honey. I figure they work so hard for it, they deserve it back! This is something I am proud of that sets me aside from others in this industry. I also use lavender or sage and dried leaves to smoke my bees when I harvest the frames. This is a natural and chemical-free way to harvest without causing the bees any distress.”

FROM HER HARVEST, John creates her sellable jars starting at $13 in sizes from 10 oz. and up. She also creates lip balms, natural sunscreens and healing balms out of the remaining wax from her honeycombs.

On top of running Honey Help, John is a local emergency department nurse – embodying the classic “busy-as-a-bee” adage. She uses her medical background to increase the power of her honeys, making and selling holistic-infused varieties like French blue lavender honey, which can reduce anxiety, and pomegranate-infused honey, that has hormone balancing qualities for the thyroid and estrogen.

“In starting my business, I wanted to combine my love of honey bees with my background in Nursing and Holistic Medicine,” John says. “By preserving one of nature’s finest ‘medicines’ and being able to offer it to the public through farmers markets, various events and even free local delivery, I am proud to say that Honey Help is quickly becoming a household name.”

JOHN HAS NO PLANS OF SLOWING DOWN And hopes to turn Honey Help into a Ferndale storefront where she can sell her Bee Friendly Goods and offer classes teaching children and adults about beekeeping and how to make your own lip balms and infused honeys.

“Lastly, for all of the work our bees do to help improve our ecosystem I find it only fair to help improve them as well. That is why I donate a portion of all delivery orders to,” John says. “They are an established group with the mission of preserving our honey bees, and teaching children and adults the importance of and need to preserve our endangered honey bee, and that is what Honey Help is all about!”

For more information about Honey Help and their local delivery schedule, follow them on Facebook or check out the Etsy shop:

Story by Sara E. Teller

HEATHER ZARA LAUNCHED ZARA CREATIVE, a Ferndale-based full-service video production house, in January 2012. “I wanted to create a place that brought out the best in people. A place where people can use their skills and impact the world in a positive way,” she said. “We do business differently here, putting values before politics and creativity before profits.”

Zara said arts programs are typically the first to be cut from schools.

“Creatives are often turned away from doing what they love as children and young adults. Yet, content development and the creative industry and -community drives so much of what moves business forward. At Zara Creative, we put culture first. We treat people with respect and show them they are valued, so they’re able to use their skills to do something good and impact the world in a positive way. By doing so, we’re giving people a reason to show up to work and are making the world a better place.”

Prior to launching her business, Zara had spent nearly a decade in broadcast media. “I had been a sports reporter and anchor for almost nine years,” she said. “I loved being a journalist because I’ve always believed in the power of stories – their ability to inspire and inform people, stay with people and help them evolve or even just make their day.”

SHE HAD SUCCESS VERY EARLY ON, winning an Emmy award while still a student at Michigan State University for her work on the student-run “MSU and You” show. “My friend was the creator of the show,” she said. He spotted Zara on campus and brought her on board. However, Zara added, “The industry became a little bit unfulfilling for me. I wanted to make the workplace a better experience for people. I wanted to create a place for people.”

Zara Creative works with “like-minded, values-driven brands that think big, leave a positive impact, and develop inspiring and meaningful content,” Zara said. “Our customers are those brands who put people first. They’re the ones you catch yourself telling your friend about because they’re just that good.”

These are the brands that “spark joy,” and are focused on sports and entertainment, food and beverage, travel and experience, and fun and philosophy. Zara Creative works with a wide variety of clients, including big names such as Google and Pulte Homes as well as small to mid-sized boutiques. Zara is also devoted to philanthropic efforts and has worked with charitable companies such as the Kresge Foundation, The Empowerment Plan, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Boy Scouts of America, Forgotten Harvest, and many more. Just this year, Zara Creative has taken home three Communicator awards for Best in Branded Content.

“We specialize in video content,” she explained, “And, we also do photo content, helping companies with their marketing, advertising, and storytelling.”

Zara is currently developing a creative summer program for children that she hopes to launch in 2020. “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” she said. The program is designed to expose kids to programming that they may not otherwise be exposed to and to encourage creative development.

Recently, Zara Creative was also certified a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council Certification Committee. “We’re so grateful,” Zara said. “We’ve never done traditional business development or employed traditional business strategies. We’ve grown organically up to this point. So, to have this certification, I’m just excited to see how much more we can grow with it. Again, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. It’s important for me to represent women who are starting businesses and taking risks, especially those who are choosing industries that are largely male dominated. I’m proud to be able to show women and young girls that anything is possible.”

Story by Sara E. Teller
Photo by David McNair

EACH YEAR, CITIZENS FOR A FAIR FERNDALE (CFF) SELECTS NOMINEES FOR ITS GOOD NEIGHBOR AWARDS, which recognize the ongoing efforts of those who live, work, or attend school in Ferndale and who value the fair and equal treatment of others, building an equal and strong community. Cheryl Salinas-Tucker and Jeny Bulatovic, sisters and founders of Rouge MakeUp & Nail Studio, were honored with a 2018 award.

“It was definitely a surprise to us,” said Bulatovic. “To us, it just means we are doing our jobs. When we started Rouge, we wanted to take people in, treat them with kindness, and take care of their needs. We welcome all kinds of people in every age and stage of life, and the goal is for them to feel better when they leave. You never know how you’re affecting someone else’s life.”

Rouge was started in 2010, and the vision came about after the sisters and their families were impacted by the recession. “My husband worked in the auto industry, and I had been a preschool teacher for fourteen years and had just started doing nails at the time,” said Bulatovic. “Cheryl had been on the corporate side of the industry. She helped start Douglas J. Aveda Institute in Royal Oak and had been an Aveda regional director. We decided to pool together our resources.”

The sisters didn’t want to start just any salon, though. They decided to focus on those services that typically get put on the back-burner, and that they would work with plant-based products only. “Most salons don’t have makeup and nails at the forefront, so we decided to go this route. I had worked with acrylics, shellac, gels, and there’s a price to pay for that,” Bulatovic said. “As someone who is more a caregiver than anything, I felt bad putting that stuff on people’s nails. What goes on our bodies goes into our bodies.”

SO ROUGE USES VEGAN AND ORGANIC, PLANT-BASED NAIL PRODUCTS rather than chemical-based. “We started working with a small, Michigan-based company, Eve Organics. Her products work and are good for you,” explained Bulatovic. “We want to offer our clients only the best ingredients – we call it their ‘personal eco-system.’ And, we’ve introduced Spa Ritual and Zoya, which perform really well. Our products are better for you, but they still need to perform and be competitive.”

Rouge has regulars who have been coming to the salon since its inception, as well as new customers who stop in all the time. “We have clients who have come to us since we opened and new people coming from all over,” Bulatovic said. “Word-of-mouth advertising has been key. When you’re a small business, it’s all about building relationships and trust, and we strive to bring that to our people every day.

They seek us out for a number of reasons. We have cancer survivors who are now more aware of ingredient lists, those with allergies, and those who just tell us, ‘I don’t like the way it smells in the nail salon.’”

Rouge offers a variety of other, unique services as well. “A year ago last May, we opened our sauna lounge,” Bulatovic said, adding, “We also built a pedicure platform at that time. The lounge consists of two infrared dry heat saunas with ambient heat. We tell our customers ‘this is time for you.’ We never book you with strangers, it’s always quiet and private. You can go back and forth, in and out. The sauna helps with muscle tension and with releasing toxins. It helps with insomnia, anxiety, and chronic pain, and is good for your cardiovascular health, too, because it gets your heart rate up.”

Microblading is performed by Myranda Jennings who has been with the salon for seven years. “She is our brow expert, and she does threading, waxing, and body work. She’s also a makeup artist who’s worked for the Detroit Opera House. People who have over-plucked for too long and their brows never grew back, those who’ve lost brow hair due to age, and blondes love the microblading option. We are fully certified with a body art license.”

Rouge’s service room also offers facials, massage, reflexology, and Reiki. Bulatovic is certified in Reiki, and says, “I always love when I can take a short break from doing nails and work with a Reiki client. It’s rejuvenating.”

By Mary MedrumB

MANY PEOPLE KNOW ANDY DIDOROSI AS THE PERSON WHO FOUNDED THE DETROIT BUS COMPANY, AFTER THE M-1 LIGHT RAIL PROJECT WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD IN 2012. About six months later, the Detroit Bus Company was borne out of a collection of used buses, a lot of spare parts and tinkering.

The Detroit Bus Company is available for tours, rentals, and people can purchase rides for school children and youth programs.

Although he has sparked quite a few small businesses, the Detroit Bus Company was Andy’s first well­ known entrepreneurial venture in Detroit. He has conceived of many dozens since, and executed several of those concepts.

These days you can catch Andy on social media hunting down electric “bird” scooters. His adventures with this technology and the citizens of Detroit led to some interesting revelations. The scooter businesses were not really addressing the population in Detroit that needed the scooters the most. So, he decided to obtain, assemble, charge and deliver at least 100 scooters with helmets lo neighborhood kids in Detroit at no cost to them. You can help. Go to his web site, to find out how lo help with this project.

ANDY’S NEWEST VENTURE IS CALLED POOL. THE NAME DESCRIBES THE SHARING OF RESOURCES, CAPITAL, AND PHYSICAL REAL ESTA TE SPACES FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYONE INVOLVED. The particulars of the project can be found at He will be launching an experiment in real community development where anybody in Michigan can invest small amounts of money and receive a real return back on their investment throughout the year. When you buy into a project, you own a real share in a house or building and gel your portion of the rent. If they ever decide lo sell the house as a group, investors/shareholders receive a portion of the sale. It’s true wealth-building.

Pool is a project where investors gel actual equity in the real estate project that they choose. Investors own shares in a house the way you would own shares in a company. Each piece of real estate is a different project with different shareholders, based on their interest in the project.

It’s a simple concept that is growing. Traditionally, if you want to invest in real estate, you need lo have the ability to buy a whole house. If you are lucky enough lo have a rich friend or family willing to invest with you, that’s great. Real estate is one of those things that people use to build generational wealth.

For most of us, the realization of wealth through property ownership is impossible or a long shot at best. So, if we can band together and make the projects work in the long term, everyone can benefit. This is radical wealth building. Pool is a way for anyone lo participate in the real estate market; it is a structural system that can result in large return.

This investment is in your own backyard. You can see the house and meet the renters. Unlike a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust), which is a fund that investors put money into and hope that the fund manager chooses profitable properties, investors in Pool have full control over the direction of the funds they contribute and can choose the real estate in which they want to participate. As part of a REIT, you might own part of a strip mall in Vegas or a coffee shop in Lexington, Kentucky. Pool invests locally only, and you know intimately what your portfolio holdings are. Individuals in Pool only invest in distinct projects.

The first house was purchased by Didorosi and will be renovated by him. This iteration of the process will help him organize the entire enterprise.

‘We haven’t formally launched it yet because we are wailing for approval from the state,” explains Didorosi. They can’t share in financial arrangements or promise any kind of a return because of the rules of security law.

Pool believes investors should be able to see where every dollar goes, so Andy has taken care of that. Investors will get a dashboard where they can see every dollar in and out of the organization.

‘We’re proud of what we’re building and aren’t shy about showing off.”

DIDOROSI CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF POOL WHEN LOOKING AT PROPERTIES that he was interested in buying. He tried to get buildings and ii was difficult. If you don’t have enough money or a bank or investors to help you secure the property, you have no access to the incredible wealth-building opportunity that is right in your own back yard.

Didorosi believes that the reason this hasn’t been accomplished by anyone up lo this point is because people might be afraid of running up against securities law, which is daunting. He is hoping he can reduce some of that friction and level the playing field so everyone can participate.

The dream is to be able to invest in commercial property and the businesses within it. The businesses within those commercial properties might also have the chance lo become partial owners in that project. As partial owners, they can help make decisions about the property and capture some of the value created, instead of just getting booted out when the owners decide to sell.

There is a lot of interest in the small amount of information that Didorosi has been able to share so far. ‘We are very strictly not soliciting or asking people lo invest yet. I personally know someone who has gotten in trouble with those laws, and it cost him $30,000.”

“I would love to see a large number of people invest into the real estate in their own communities directly. I think that will have a huge number of ripple effects. If people are the investors in the properties around them, ii will ensure that the businesses will thrive.”

He has a point. Investment in one’s own neighborhood is an investment in the outcome of those properties. There is elevation of human capital and social capital that follows in the wake of renovated property and infrastructure that is cared for and maintained. Public parks, schools, recreation centers, businesses, and cultural centers all prosper under the care of local ownership; good neighborhoods attracts good neighbors.

“We are in a crisis of ownership right now.”

Hong Kong owns a lot of property in Detroit. Large investment groups that don’t have any footprint in the city own much of the city.

“Local ownership will change the fabric of the city forever. We, as the people, have to be the next billionaire at the table. We have to make this a choice. We are a system of capitalism, which means that those with the capital get to make all the decisions. Until we assemble capital into an efficient structure that can go out and do the work, we’re not going to have any power in our own communities.”

Story by: Sara Teller
Photos by: Bernie Laframboise

THE SOFE DISTRICT – A CATCHY NAME FOR ‘SOUTH FERNDALE’ – is made up of various Ferndale businesses, including Green Daffodil, The Dana Keaton Collection, 700 Livernois Fashion House, Olive’s Bloombox, Christopher George Creations, The Kulick Center, Schramm’s Mead, The Anand Center, Purple Door Tea House, DK Dental, Imax Printing, Joe’s Party Store, Axle Brewery and Margaux & Max. Green Daffodil, a bath-and-body shop, coined the name eight years ago, and it officially took off during the beginning of the construction stage on Livernois earlier this year.

“We wanted to give this area its own identity because of the rebirth of the Avenue of Fashion in Detroit,” said Dana Keaton. “It is another enclave for eclectic business in keeping with the Ferndale vibe. It’s funky, eclectic, and diverse. We want the SoFe District to be the new hot thing!”

Keaton’s business, The Dana Keaton Collection, was established in 2000 and operates as a retail space, an education center, and a place to hold events. Keaton has been in the fashion business all her life. “I sell one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories,” she said. “No two items are alike.”

Keaton is well-known for her award-winning youth fashion programs, and has taught al various schools and centers all over the Detroit metropolitan area. She started The Fashion Atelier, which provides a wide variety of classes to residents. Current classes include Sewing 101, Fashion Illustration, Alterations, Jewelry Design, Modeling, Painting, Drawing, and others. ”You can learn how to design your own skirts, handbags, or yoga pants,” she said. “And yes, men can take the classes, also!”

RECENTLY, A MEETING WAS HELD REGARDING THE SOFE DISTRICT AT FERNDALE’S CITY HALL. ‘This meeting was with the County of Oakland and Ferndale. There were representatives from the County, Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, The DDA, and myself who represented the SoFe District,” Dana explained. She said its purpose ·was to spearhead the annual upcoming Small Business Saturday events. I wanted to be there to make sure the SoFe District was included.”

The group discussed what will take place on Small Business Saturday in November and how the SoFe District will be involved, plans for marketing and promotion, and what can be done to help generate business for the District. Those who were present on behalf of SoFe wanted to ensure this area of Ferndale received just as much attention as any other. “Our concerns were well-received, and they assured us they will include us in all upcoming events held in Ferndale,” Keaton said. ‘We are going to hold them to this!”

The City of Ferndale has also rolled out a series of “SoFe Strolls” in an effort to generate some publicity for the area. During these strolls, customers can stop by the places of business to receive special offers and participate in activities. “The City provided advertising materials for the first event,” Keaton explained. “The businesses of the SoFe District also use the Strolls as a way to help promote our other businesses in the area.”

According to Keaton, internal changes within the City offices have caused the owners lo take up the initiative themselves. ·we do plan to promote the dates ourselves to continue to drive business to our area,” she said, adding, ‘The Livernois businesses are hoping everyone will come to the new SoFe District and ‘Shop Small.'”

The final Strolls will take place on Saturday, October 13, 2018, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and on Small Business Saturday, November 24, 2018, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Green Daffodil will be having a Holiday Artist Markel, Saturday, November 3, 2018 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM, and Keaton will be hosting the Tres Chic Runway Fashion Show from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Small Business Saturday at 700 Livernois Ave.