Shinola Detroit: Authentic Pride in Detroit’s Story

By Kyle Pollock on April 5th, 2013 / Comments

Detroit has a story, one that everyone knows. But it is a story that has yet to finish, or perhaps be rewritten. As a manufacturing city with a rich history, it has seen the greatest heights and the lowest depths. Whatever fluctuations it undergoes, one thing always remains the same–the authentic pride of it’s people (so much that Detroiters can seem to get defensive of their city when facing any bad publicity).

This pride may not be seen on every street corner, but in the people that are doing things, building, and creating. Shinola is a place where you can find both authenticity and pride in a company building watches, assembling bikes, and putting together journals and leather goods.

The company aimed to open their online shop in February 2013 with their debut of The Runwell, their hand made limited edition watch. In just under 10 days they sold their first 2,500. Shinola also features bicycles, paper journals and leather wallets, purses, bags and cases. All with an equally authentic look as the other. The next line of watches are expected to be available again in June, which is also around the time of The Detroit Grand Prix, sponsored by Shinola, who is the official timepiece and timekeeper of the event. Not coincidentally, the retail store located in Detroit midtown will open around that time in the old Willys Overland building along with retail space in NYC TriBeCa.

shinola watch

Although a NYC office will be a chance for Detroit to receive some good publicity, the Michigan customers are the real bedrock for Shinola.

“It was incredible to see the data from the campaign and the amount of support that we got from Michigan. Buyers in Michigan made up the lion-share of buyers of our limited edition watches pre-sale,” said Jacques Panis, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Shinola. “They seem to be rallying around this effort, and not just the Shinola effort, but they seem to be rallying around the city.”

Telling the Story of Detroit

Jacques understands what really separates Shinola from other watch companies, the company keeps manufacturing goods local but also tells the story of Detroit.

“The story shines through and compels you to look at your surroundings to think–hey, you don’t have to go off-shore,” said Jacques. “It’s doable here in the U.S. and you just have to be smart, diligent, methodical, and have the right team of people. Fortunately the team of people we have is not just our team, but it’s a support of an entire city.”

A city that has been through a declining population, but still owns it’s manufacturing roots.

“The talent pool is quite deep. We have not had any sort of lack of talent,” said Jacques. “Obviously, people in Detroit have made engines and understand what we’re making. Our engines just power watches.”

The Shinola headquarters is located on 485 W. Milwaukee St. Detroit, MI 48202 and has been very advantageous for the company to handle products before they put them on the market. “Having our manufacturing in our backyard, allows us to ensure no product leaves our center without having being reviewed multiple times by our quality control managers. We’re able to make sure that our teams adhere to the level of quality products that we strive to provide to our customers.”

Shinola is looking to change manufacturing in the United States and begin a long history of watchmaking in Detroit. Hopefully when the time is right, Detroit will re-present itself to the world, and Shinola will help show others how to keep manufacturing local.

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About the Author

Kyle Pollock

Formerly with Booklify, he is a freelance writer, web designer, and enjoys different cultures. He sports Vibram FiveFingers on his runs and is a big fan of Michigan family owned businesses. He is an MSU graduate with a degree in Professional Writing.