Two young Ypsilanti entrepreneurs are teaming up to host community business mixers in an effort to create and strengthen relationships between current and aspiring entrepreneurs in Ypsi.
Deonta Doss, owner of Friends Closet, and Olisa Thompson, owner of MAX Marie, will host their second community business mixer at Friends Closet, 731 W. Cross St., on July 27 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Those who attend the event will have the chance to mingle with other local entrepreneurs, introduce themselves and their businesses, and receive advice from Ylondia Portis, owner of BrandHrt Consulting, Digital Insights, and Strategy.
Doss says the goal of the event is to "bridge the gap" between existing business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, and "to bring everyone together in Ypsilanti."
Thompson says one of her favorite parts of the community business mixers is getting to meet "the person behind the business."
"As an entrepreneur from around here, I want to meet new people who are likeminded and are interested in entrepreneurship, getting advice, connecting, and networking," she says.
At the first community business mixer at Friends Closet on March 30, about 30 attendees had the chance to meet and exchange contact information with local officials and entrepreneurs, including the owners of Cultivate Coffee and Tap House, Maiz Mexican Cantina, and the Jamerican Grill food truck. Doss says many of those who attended the inaugural mixer were friends of his.
"They came out to support me and in return, they met a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs," Doss says.
Doss and Thompson plan to host a community business mixer every few months. They eventually hope to bring the event to other local businesses.
Friends Closet also hosts many other events, including art shows, concerts, independent movie screenings, listening parties, open mics, and brand launches.
"Friends Closet has definitely provided a space and a vibe where people can come and express their art, whether it’s clothing, fashion, poetry, food, [or] music," Thompson says.
Brianna Kelly is the embedded reporter for On the Ground Ypsi and an Ypsilanti resident. She has worked for The Associated Press and has freelanced for The Detroit News and Crain's Detroit Business.
Deonta Doss and Olisa Thomspon photo by Brianna Kelly. Mixer photos courtesy of Nick Azzaro.