Detroit-made Shinola

Detroiters hold a unique pride in the recently surging popularity of Shinola, and they should.

The Detroit-based company has grown exponentially in the past three years, and is now expanding to cities like London, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

It’s an exciting thing for someone from the area to watch develop.

When I got married in January, I was looking for a unique, non-bridey gift for each of my bridesmaids. It didn’t take long to realize a coin purse from Shinola with each of their names engraved on it would be the perfect “Detroit” gift for them to remember our wedding by.

Even less than a year later, the relatively unknown Shinola brand is a little less unique — not necessarily a bad thing — simply because of its popularity and skyrocketing name recognition.

As my husband and I were walking down 14th St. in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, we were shocked to see a Shinola store up ahead. The D.C. street was one of the more dangerous, less traveled roads just five years ago. It’s now one of the most expensive corridors in the country, and certainly one of the trendiest.

To see a sign with “Detroit” on it was certainly a proud moment for us former DC-ers, now returned Michiganians. (A full, permanent retail shop in the District is coming soon.)

The Washington Post has a great in-depth feature story on the company out this week. These quotes really encapsulate what makes Shinola tick (pun intended). It’s not that Shinola has put Detroit on the map, but that Detroit’s unique history and current struggles have made Shinola’s presence here an epic story.

“People keep telling us how much Shinola has done for Detroit,” Bock said over lunch in the Corktown neighborhood. “But it’s the absolute opposite: It’s what Detroit has done for Shinola.”“People keep telling us how much Shinola has done for Detroit,” Bock said over lunch in the Corktown neighborhood. “But it’s the absolute opposite: It’s what Detroit has done for Shinola.”

The city is undeniably key. “I don’t think the Shinola story would be so compelling if it was based in Los Angeles or Chicago,” Calkins said. “Detroit gives it tremendous credibility and makes it very real.”

Despite widespread negativity about Detroit’s scarred history, people around the country want to be part of something that reminds them America is still strong. They want to contribute to the success of its cities and industries.

Detroit — and Shinola — give them that chance.

Kaitlyn Buss
Kaitlyn Buss is editorial page writer for The Detroit News. Prior to joining the News, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked in public relations, opinion writing, and ran communications for an association of state legislators. She's a native of Metro Detroit. Follow her @KaitlynBuss.