Co-owners Sidney Farrington and Jessica Tidwell opened DTown Vinyl, Detroit’s only black and woman-owned craft vinyl supply store in Detroit about 10 months ago, right in the middle of the pandemic, and business is good. The store offers heat transfer vinyl, printable vinyl sheets, glitter, rhinestones, and more. This willingness to take a risk, and the energy and smarts to pull it off, are all part of a day’s work for the long-time friends. It also helps to have a large and entrepreneurial family who frequently show up to help. Jessica, or Jess, and Sidney have been friends since high school, and Jess has been crafting ever since she can remember. “My mother and grandmother were crafters,” says Jess. “My grandmother showed me how to make pottery from the simple recipe of salt, flour, and water, and my mother and sister sew.”
MAKING ROOM FOR MORE BUSINESS
Jess and Sidney’s idea for the store was helped along by the fact that Jess’ brother Shannon Tidwell already housed his business, G & A Custom Cabinets, at 19600 Grand River. G & A Custom Cabinets has been in the space for about 2 years. Shannon used the space as his workshop as well as his showroom. Shortly after Jess and Sidney came to join him, TCF Bank announced an opportunity for neighboring businesses to join in their April grand opening. Shannon got to work to create a more welcoming space that could accommodate DTown Vinyl and to invite new customers to the store.
This former real estate office space once had four separate offices. Shannon removed walls, laid new flooring, and painted to create one large showroom with lots of natural light. Shannon’s workshop is now elsewhere, but 19600 Grand River serves as his showroom where customers can see their options for cabinetry, backsplashes, and flooring. Jess and Sidney’s space allows for consultations with their customers, and a space that houses DTown Vinyl’s wide array of vinyl, accessories, and cutting equipment. There’s even space for Shannon and Jess’ sister Erika Tidwell, who owns Painted Lady Designs, to display her custom resin work and painted furniture. It’s a small but well-organized and inviting space where shoppers can get a whole lot done.
SHARING SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
While Jess and Sidney share DTown Vinyl, they also each have their own businesses. Jess owns
NotJustJess Designs & Décor, which specializes in custom shoes, clothes, and decor. Sidney’s business, Divine Style, LLC focuses on graphic design, including everything from business cards to event tickets. The tight-knit family readily fills in for one another, taking calls, answering questions, helping move stock around, and promoting each other’s businesses. This sense of cooperation and support comes as naturally as their craftsmanship.
These entrepreneurial siblings also credit their father who owned Tri-County Entry Systems, a locksmith and door and window installation business on Grand River for 40 years. When Shannon was in high school, he knew he too wanted to work with his hands, carpentry specifically. At 16 he signed up to do a volunteer practicum at Henry Ford Hospital where they had full-time tradespeople keeping the hospital in order. Shannon was told they had enough students. Shannon thought if he wore a suit and tie to the interview he’d show them that he was serious about learning carpentry, not just a student just looking to get his volunteer hours in. Long-time Grandmont Rosedale resident and Henry Ford Hospital carpenter Ron Patnaude saw the suit and Shannon’s earnestness and said, “Let him come. He can work with me.” Shannon learned a great deal from Ron, eventually working alongside Ron on several GRDC renovation projects, and came to consider Ron’s wife Charlotte “a second mother.”
CHOOSING GRANDMONT ROSEDALE
With this strong connection to Grandmont Rosedale, choosing to open their businesses in the neighborhood was a cinch. “We have always thought of Grandmont Rosedale as a great, community-based neighborhood,” says Shannon. “We’re a tight-knit family and Grandmont Rosedale is a family-oriented neighborhood.”
Soon after opening shop, DTown Vinyl set to work creating community with their new neighbors. They designed and created the adhesive vinyl addresses for their next door neighbor H&M Style Lounge and Chill Room, 19566 Grand River. Jess and Sidney also include their customers in this spirit of collaboration and shared knowledge. The store often carries products customers have fashioned out of vinyl. “We want to support them like they support us,” says Sidney. DTown Vinyl offer one-on-one classes, online classes, and will even rent out cutting equipment with a tutorial on how to use it. “Crafting is my happy place,” says Sidney. “I’m always thinking about new ideas, new projects.” Jess agrees: “A crafter’s mind is crazy! It never stops! There’s always something new to try.”
The makers at 19600 Grand River understand that connection and cooperation strengthen everyone. If you’re looking for some creative ideas, 19600 Grand River is a one-stop shop.
G & A Custom Cabinets: www.kitchensindetroit.com 313.437.1770
Painted Lady Designs: Erika Tidwell 313.740.8321. Also on FB and IG
Not Just Jess Custom Designs: email: NotJustJess@gmail.com. 313.647.6148. Also on FB and IG
Divine Style LLC: DivineStyle@live.com 313.598.6624. Also on FB and IG