PONTIAC (WJRT) (11/30/17)--It's a downtown Pontiac sewing factory that's cutting and stitching everything from t-shirts and joggers to dresses, and basketball shorts, even pillow cases and dog beds.
"It's interesting because we really are just about the only full-service cut and sew manufacturer for the apparel industry in Michigan," said Karen Buscemi.
This is all happening at Detroit Sewn. The business was founded by Buscemi, the former editor of StyleLine Magazine. Her team helps bring concepts to life for more than 130 clients, many of them owners of brand names that can't be revealed due to non-disclosure agreements. However, they're names that you would probably know.
"Mountaineering gear from High Route Gear, Racked in Love products for cancer patients. This is a designer out of New York, Lauren Gabrielson. We're doing her whole collection right now," said Buscemi.
Detroit Sewn is the home of Tierra Reign, the fall children's line designed by Catelynn and Tyler Baltierra, best known from the MTV reality show, Teen Mom.
"All of their fans are responding and their lines are selling out. They want more sizes, they want more options, so that's really fun," said Buscemi.
Products made in this 5,000 square foot former bank building are being shipped out daily and landing on store shelves, both near and far.
"Not global yet, but definitely around the country. From New York to California and everywhere in between," said Buscemi.
She believes that Southeast Michigan is emerging as the nation's next great garment district.
"You have New York and California, there's truly no place in between. To have some place in the Midwest is extraordinarily convenient. Our prices are competitive because our rents are so much lower here," said Buscemi.
That has designers from coast to coast eager to buy into the Made in Michigan concept.
"Detroit is so sexy right now and everybody wants to make in this area and we're here to do that for them," Buscemi.
That allure has lead to steady business, allowing Detroit Sewn to add new jobs at a rapid pace.
"When we started just over two years ago, I had one employee, one client, one product. Now there's ten of us and we're already planning on some serious scaling for 2018. We're looking at for the first time, adding a second shift," Buscemi.
Buscemi has actually taken an active role in developing her own workforce.
"My non-profit Detroit Garment Group has the industrial sewing certificate program at Henry Ford College in Dearborn and its at a couple other schools around the state. Some of them are graduates of that program," she said.
Something else that will soon give Detroit Sewn reason to possibly add some additional staff members is a new project tied in with the auto industry.
"It's top secret. You're not getting it out of me. We're talking about something that goes inside the car. You're not getting it out of me. Absolutely not," said Buscemi.
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