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Entries in Veronika Scott (2)

Friday
Apr052013

influencers: veronika scott at home

What is it about Detroit that makes you want to call it home?
In Detroit, everyone is doing something engag-
ing and of their own creation. The city is a hub of creativity, whether you’ve lived here your whole life or moved here to start something new.

We have a strong entrepreneurial community, where the people who own businesses and buildings have their own proactive ideas for the future of the city. People in the city recognize that for the success of the whole—we need to look beyond individual success and work together as part of a bigger system.

There are many issues that need to be tackled, and no one person can do it on their own. I have lived in many places, but Detroit will always be the one I call home, because I know that I would have never been able to start the Empowerment Plan in any other city in the world.

Tell us a little bit about the building you live in and how you designed your space.
People have many preconceived notions about Detroit, but where I live we walk around at night, ride our bikes around the neighborhood, and new businesses are always popping up.

The Canfield building is located in the heart of the city. The building is an old manufacturing facility that is now home to a beautiful loft space, as well as three different storefronts.

I have been a nomad most of my life, and this is the first time I have really settled into a home. Because of my job I travel quite frequently, and I am doing construction projects every few months. In picking a place to live I wanted a safe haven that was easy to maintain and relaxing.

When I moved in, there was a rather interesting color scheme—purple and green—I had to change it. I used white to open up the space and a relaxing yet vibrant blue instead of a more aggressive color.

The loft bed was already in place but I built the wall under it so that people wouldn’t be looking at a bed from the living room. Most people don’t even realize it’s there until I point it out.

Any tricks to living in just 750 square feet?
You have to have the ability to minimal-ize, which was easy for me because my possessions were few when I moved into the loft. But realistically it’s all about the hidden storage that you can create in a small space.

The bed is on top of a walk-in closet and there are shelves and bins throughout the space for everything else. I enjoy the small space because when I was in a larger loft, I felt like I couldn’t make it my own. I couldn’t afford to furnish a large space, and with my loft now I am able to personalize it and really enjoy it as my home.

We love your blue wall of art. Your collection seems very personal and original…any stories there?
All of the art in my space I have amassed slowly over time. The screen-print of the two men standing next to each other, one in a red jacket and one in black, are the poet Philip Levine and his twin brother Edward, who is a brilliant fine artist. This piece is one of my favorites and one of the most unique. They were born here in Detroit and have accomplished amazing things in their lives.

The charcoal of the horse and rider on my wall was done by Edward and was given to me years ago when he was cleaning out his studio. He and his wife Diane taught me to draw and paint, and were a big influence in my creative life. I spent hours in their studio as a child.

A piece of Diane’s work is on the wall opposite the blue wall, a watercolor of the blue sky and a train. Another of my favorite pieces is the H.G. Wells Time Machine print, done by one of my favorite young artists. He is not a Detroiter but I do love his work, and I love H.G Wells. The rest of the artwork is a mixture of Detroit artists.

It was a lot of fun for us to re-think your space. Does it “live” differently for you now? What’s your favorite thing about it now?
It lives differently in the sense that it feels complete. For someone who has lived a rather nomadic life, it is fantastic to settle into a place and have it feel finished. It is a very good representation of who I am and what I love, highlighting my record cabinet, my art, and my books.

My favorite thing about my space is definitely the living room area. It feels clean, relaxing, modern, and beautiful.

In support of The Empowerment Plan, CB2 is donating $5000 which will provide XX coat bags.
To see how Veronika makes a difference in Detroit, go here to learn her inspiration and work for The Empowerment Plan.

Friday
Apr052013

influencers: veronika scott at work, The Empowerment Plan

A coat that transforms into a sleeping bag? How did you come up with that idea?
This started as a class project at the College for Creative Studies here in Detroit. The assignment was to design a product that filled a social need, and the biggest need I saw here in the city was homelessness.

I started my research at a local shelter, the Neighborhood Service Organization, but was received with a less than welcoming sentiment on the first day—because they didn’t want a savior, they wanted to be treated like people.

So I went three days a week for five months.
I got to know them, started to gain their trust
after I proved that I was not going anywhere,
and was just there to listen to them. I spent
a lot of time walking around the shelter with
them, and I discovered that just 20’ away from the shelter was a playground that someone
had fashioned into a shelter of their own. I wanted to know why someone would risk their livelihood and well-being to provide for themselves what someone else was willing to provide to them.

The answer was pride and needing to have a sense of independence. The coat was to give people mobility, and having pride in having something new, not previously worn and used by someone else.

“The sleeping bag part came in because the shelters in Detroit are filled beyond capacity and tens of thousands of people are still out on the streets each night. This was meant to offer comfort and pride to those people.”
Veronika Scott, The Empowerment Plan Founder and CEO

The Empowerment Plan production space feels warm and homey—what do you attribute that to?
This is really due to the man who owns this building and the eclectic group of individuals who reside there. Phillip Cooley, the owner of a local Detroit restaurant and advocate for the city, garnered interest of a diverse group of people who volunteered their time for construction and restoration of the building.

This didn’t happen overnight—over nine months and thousands of volunteer hours were spent getting the building to where it is now. The homey feeling comes from the fact that the community helped to build and restore the space.

How did you empower yourself at such a young age to tackle Detroit’s homeless issue?
It’s not so much that I empowered myself but that I was empowered by others. Particularly my grandparents, who supported me through the entire design research process and connected me with any and all friends and family members who were able to aid me in furthering the projects—one of which helped me construct my first business plan.

I couldn’t have succeeded without the support of so many people—and having their input afforded me the freedom to fail, because I had so many people to help me and nothing to really lose. From the larger corporations like GM and Carhartt to my family and friends, everyone had something to risk, and I am so thankful for their support.

What is your hope for The Empowerment Plan in the future?
The most important thing for us is becoming a sustainable entity. That means financial security, as well as being able to support Detroit in a larger way.

We currently give out coats throughout the US—which are sponsored by individuals, corporations or non-profits through our website. As we grow, we plan to launch a for-profit business that will feature a buy-one/get-one model—where people can buy a coat for themselves and have one given out on the streets in a location of their choosing.

We are also working on developing a disaster relief arm and hope to become a model for sustainable and humane garment manufacturing in the US.

In support of The Empowerment Plan, CB2 has donated $5000.
To see how Veronika makes a small Detroit space home, go here.