Blog: Torya Blanchard & Greg Lenhoff

On the menu at Detroit's Park Shelton are young neighboring entrepreneurs Torya Blanchard, chef and owner of Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes, and Greg Lenhoff, owner of Leopold's bookstore. Enjoy some food for thought this week as Torya and Greg discuss what sparks their artisanal ventures.

Torya Blanchard - Post 1: 'Fight Club' Inspires a French Creperie

2008 became what I called my experimental Fight Club ("Only after you've lost everything, you're free to do anything….") year. I decided at the time to take the film literally to see what would happen if I followed some of the fictional character Tyler Durden's advice.  Do real people actually do this? I loved my job as a French teacher, but I wanted to really push my limits, let go, and do something a little crazy.

Aside from the question "What's your favorite crêpe?" many people ask how did a Detroit girl like me get into, of all things, the crêpe business?  I tell anyone who asks that it's easy to start a business if you are willing to give up being comfortable. Meaning you can sleep at night if your idea fails and you lose every penny to your name pursuing it. I took what money I saved, cashed out my 401K (gasp!), and started with that and, of all things, that $1,000 stimulus money that Bush gave us back in 2008! That's it.

Loans, unless they can't be avoided, I feel should be avoided at all cost in small businesses. Getting a loan somewhere throughout this small business journey probably would have made my life a lot easier, although there is something about working for every dollar that you get and knowing where every dollar comes from and where it's going and being on a cash basis with ever vendor you use.  Many people are used to the instant gratification credit/loan, but there is something to be said about saving for your business – and saving while you do business – that makes you value your company and see money in a different light.

I'm a Detroit girl through and through. I grew up here, lived here, went to school here, and worked here.  My goal in opening a business here was not to make any kind of statement. Rather, it's where my home is and where I feel very comfortable. Whether it be in Detroit or the suburbs, people have to be comfortable where they set up their businesses and there is nothing wrong with either choice of location.

While some people have left Detroit for dead, I know that there are people that still work, attend school, and carry their business on in the city, because I'm one of those people. That's where I and others come in and fill in the gap.  Rent tends to be cheaper and especially in the Midtown/University area you have such broad access to many people from all over the metro area. There is room for more restaurants and shops in those areas. The audience is there.

I am every bit the film buff and in the end, a movie changed my life.