“That was big for me,” Mills said. “They actually reached out to me. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to cover the vendor fee, but we worked something out. It made a big difference. I was busy that whole weekend. We kept getting close to running out of everything. That kind of pushed me to try to get my own store.”
Mills enlisted the help of Detroit-based brand marketing firm Ask Jennyfer, owned and operated by Jennyfer Crawford-Williams. Crawford-Williams through her Corktown-based business helps small businesses like Mills’ better market themselves. In 2021, Mills participated in Market Fridays at downtown Detroit’s Cadillac Square, an event organized by Crawford-Williams that gives local farmers and small businesses a place to showcase their wares. Mills also had her treats featured at Crawford-Williams’ Corktown shop and online platform, All Things Marketplace, for Valentine’s Day 2021.
Crawford-Williams is proud of what Mills has accomplished.
“From the beginning (Mills) set her goals and she has accomplished them. I’m excited to see how far she will go,” Crawford-Williams said in an email to Crain’s. “Whenever business owners like (Mills) put in the considerable effort to expand and work to reach their goals after working with me, I feel so proud. It lets me know that the work we are doing is effective and that small business owners right here are benefiting from our services.”
Mills was aided in her search for a storefront by Basement Burger Bar owner Jimmy Azar, who sampled Mills’ treats and took a liking to the entrepreneur. Azar, who declined to be interviewed for this story to keep the focus on Mills’ efforts, made some connections and helped her find the Laurel Park Place space.
“That was a blessing,” Mills said. “(Azar) has been a lot of help to me.”
Mills, technically the business’ lone employee who receives some free help from her sister and a couple of friends, projects about $100,000 in sales in her Laurel Park Place space in its first year.
Business has been steady, Mills said. Opening around the Christmas holiday season gave her a boost. So did Valentine’s Day.
“You have to have chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day,” she said.
The more customers, the better, Mills said. More sales would obviously help her bottom line, but it would help in a variety of other ways, too. Mills said she works on her business sun up to sun down and putting much of what she makes back into the business, which doesn’t allow her to add paid staff to lighten her load.
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