Money does more than talk when you buy from these mission-driven businesses
By Jeff Waraniak // Photographs by Robert Nixon
From impulse buys in the checkout line to political campaign donations, we say a lot with our money, and in metro Detroit, there are plenty of opportunities to say what we want with our everyday purchases. Whether it’s dress shirts, hand bags, or education-inspired energy drinks, consider these local businesses when you want your dollar to do more, go further, and ring a little louder than the beep of a register.
313 Energy: Believe it or not, energy drinks don’t have to be all sugar, caffeine, and action sports. Case in point, Detroit-based 313 Energy is a low-cal, Guarana fruit-based beverage with a mission to kick-start the community. Originally created by a pair of metro Detroit high schoolers in 2011, a percentage of all sales are donated to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. Keep an eye out for the drink at local retailers and Detroit City FC soccer games.
Arts & Scraps: One business’ trash is another business’ treasure with Arts & Scraps, a Detroit-based nonprofit founded by a coalition of Detroit teachers. The organization offers dozens of craft kits comprised of recycled materials like coffee cans, yarn, buttons, and other craft supplies for children to build airplanes, jet packs, or the “robot” pictured here. Kit sales help the now 27-year-old organization continue its mission of bringing creative, hands-on learning and STEM education to thousands of metro Detroit children.
Mittens For Detroit: Founded by actress Erin Cummings, Mittens for Detroit collects, purchases, and distributes new mittens and gloves to children and adults in Detroit. In addition to traditional donations, the charity also offers a fine jewelry collection featuring mitten bracelets, earrings, and pendants. All profits from the collection, which is manufactured in Troy, Mich., are used to purchase gloves for local charities.
Better Life Bags: “Custom with a cause.” That’s the tagline for Better Life Bags, a Hamtramck-based outfit that offers fully custom, hand-sewn work bags, shoulder bags, backpacks, and more. The company makes it a priority to hire local women, many of whom are Yemeni, Bangladeshi, and Afghani immigrants who face cultural, linguistic, or other barriers to employment. Since opening up shop in Hamtramck in 2010, the company has hired 15 women
from the Hamtramck and
Lawrence Hunt: Billed as a “professional performance” clothing brand, Lawrence Hunt offers comfortable, breathable, moisture-wicking dress shirts that can do it all, but the company does even more with its Buy 2, Give 1 initiative. For every purchase of two select sweat-blocking shirts, LH sends one dress shirt to someone in need of professional clothing. A good deal for anyone facing that first nerve-racking job interview.
Angel of Grace Awareness Bracelets: What began as a way for Linda Plumhoff to help a friend battling breast cancer has evolved into a fundraising tool for all kinds of causes. Each bracelet provided by Angel of Grace features a unique bead and ribbon color corresponding to a specific cause like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, or multiple sclerosis. Patrons can choose to sell the bracelets themselves or invite Angel of Grace to participate in their fundraising event. The bracelets are made with Swarovski crystals, sterling silver tubes, and glass beads.
Detroit Water Ice Factory: Featuring Detroit-themed flavors like Woodward Watermelon and Honolulu Blue Raspberry, Mitch Albom’s Detroit Water Ice Factory has become a downtown hotspot for sweet treats. 100 percent of profits from the shop go toward Albom’s S.A.Y. Detroit charity, which strives to help Detroit’s neediest citizens through projects like its family health clinic and the S.A.Y. Play Center, a group that provides academic and sports programs for Detroit youth.