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Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project Featured by Michigan News Service

Detroit sip
Detroit Sip’s Jevona Watson. Photo by Eric Bronson, U‑M Photography. 

The Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project (DNEP), co-founded by Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design professor Hannah Smotrich, is an interdisciplinary initiative that pairs U‑M teams — including students from the Law School, Ross School of Business, and Stamps — to support owners of neighborhood-based businesses in Detroit in their launch and/​or expansion. 

In Hannah’s DNEP course, students work with entrepreneurs to solve problems and address barriers to growth. Students learn skills for working in collaborative teams, interacting with clients, and thinking critically to define design opportunities, propose and implement solutions. Studio work spans experience, service, and visual communication design. 

Recently, DNEP entrepreneurs spoke with the University of Michigan News Service about their businesses, their goals, and their work with the program.

Entrepreneur Kesia Shine says the opening of Watson’s Detroit Sip brought more than coffee and friendly service to the Fitzgerald neighborhood.

It means a lot to me personally because I’ve seen so many abandoned buildings, so many boarded-up buildings and I’ve been wondering when and who would be willing to invest back in the city of Detroit and what that looks like,” she said. It brings me hope and hope is contagious.”

Changing neighborhoods: Building Detroit one entrepreneur at a time | Michigan Impact