The ethos of Ariya’s Apparel and Accessories can be summed up as stylish, modern, and modest. Owner Akeya Muhammad infused these qualities into her pop-up store in the Grand River WorkPlace, which she ran from April-September 2019. Music flowed from a portable speaker, clothes and handbags were carefully arranged on racks and shelves, and a minimal color scheme gave the space a chic and modern look. Akeya constructed the store with an attentiveness to the five senses. She wanted the smell, sound, and maneuverability of the space to be pleasant and accessible: “I made sure the store was filled to the hilt—but in a way that allowed customers to move around easily.”
Akeya’s personality is outgoing and laid-back, but always focused. It was precisely this focus and business acumen that won Akeya first place in TechTown’s 2018 Pitch Contest and has made her six months in the WorkPlace a success. Prior to the pop-up, Akeya built awareness of her brand through her website, social media presence, and vendor events. Her growth in these online and vendor spaces, combined with support from TechTown, helped her gain the confidence to open a physical store. She decided that the WorkPlace’s pop-up space on 19120 Grand River was an affordable and culturally ideal location to house her Detroit-based business.
ARIYA’S APPAREL IN THE GRANDMONT ROSEDALE COMMUNITY
The Grandmont Rosedale community showed interest in and support for Ariya’s Apparel and Accessories before the store had even officially opened its doors. Just days ahead of the April 2019 grand opening, a passerby approached Akeya about a jacket she had been eying in the window. “The lady asked to try on a jacket, and I told her, ‘ma’am, I’m not open yet,” she recalls. “I know,” the lady replied, “But I’ve been looking at this one for a minute!” In that moment, Akeya made her first sale in her new pop-up store.
Since then, Ariya’s Apparel and Accessories has had steady foot traffic and regular customers in the Grandmont Rosedale community. Akeya found striking up conversations with customers to be one of the highlights of working in the store—naturally, given that the people of Grandmont Rosedale have an abundance of stories that they are never too shy to share! She would sometimes chat with visitors for hours, developing connections, contacts, and friendships within the community.
Like many businesses on the River, Akeya’s store needed a signal boost when the Streetscape construction began in August. She came up with tactically and aesthetically impressive solutions during this time, such as changing up her signage, placing mannequins in front of the store to raise visibility, and running irresistible promotions in September. With assistance from GRDC’s social media and some useful workshops in the Grand River WorkPlace (such as former GRDC Economic Development Manager Ian Watts’ “Predictable Revenue Boot Camp”), Akeya managed to reach her customers and keep her sales consistent. She also appreciated the “Shop Small” signs along Grand River, which were acquired by our District 1 Business Liaison, Tenecia D. Johnson. Ultimately, Akeya’s pop-up store exceeded her initial projections and she is well-positioned to further expand her efforts.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ARIYA’S APPAREL AND ACCESSORIES?
As Akeya’s time in the Grand River WorkPlace comes to a close, she looks forward to extending her online operations while continuing to research brick-and-mortar possibilities in the near future. While her store will be missed on the Grand River Corridor, she describes her experience in this community as highly positive and lists the Grandmont Rosedale community as a “top contender” for a physical store. It has been an inimitable experience for Akeya that has allowed her to demonstrate her entrepreneurial agility and the appeal of her vision to provide modest attire for professional women. She appreciates the support and friendship of GRDC Economic Development Specialist BrieAnn Bell and the stimulus that her business has received through the pop-up opportunity.
GRDC is excited to see what the future holds for Ariya’s Apparel and Accessories! Be sure to check out Akeya’s online boutique and continue to “Shop small” in Grandmont Rosedale!