Jevona Watson

Detroit Sip

Tell us about Detroit Sip!

Jevona Watson: Detroit Sip is the community’s coffee shop in Detroit’s Bagley neighborhood between University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) and Marygrove College. Events at the shop include open mics, music and after school events like a chess club to teach younger kids how to play. I see the police officers coming in and talking to kids that are walking home from schools. My market includes residents; college students in their gated campuses; and the nearby schools, police- and fire stations. People should feel comfortable to visit daily and still be able to study.

How did you become an entrepreneur? 

JW: I didn’t think of myself as an entrepreneur, I just wanted to open a coffee shop with drinks, coffee and quiet conversation. Today, I can see myself as a social entrepreneur. It’s more than a cup of coffee it’s an experience that I want people to have. Entrepreneurship is a new territory for me and everyday isn’t always roses. Though I am an educated person, I didn’t go to business school and there are still many things that I am learning. The location was strategic. I’m a Detroit native and Bagley resident. My goal was always to open a place where students can study in my own hometown. When I attended law school at Michigan State University, I studied in a coffee shop instead of the library. The coffee shop is a place to connect people. For example, UDM students don’t venture far from the campus. I want to give them a reason to walk or bike through the neighborhood. The neighborhood doesn’t need a savior, it has its own character, but the student on campus won’t know what it means to be a resident in NW Detroit unless they experience it.

“April Anderson is a great facilitator and…answered every question I had, including helping me plan my space.”

What was your experience with BUILD?

JW: In the class our businesses were all in different spaces. I met nice people and got enough information to start my business. April Anderson is a great facilitator and has great knowledge. She has a good balance of formal training and business owner experience. April answered every question I had, including helping me plan my space. I also spoke with Rhonda with Lucky’s Cheesecake down the street, she was very open about her failures and successes. April and Rhonda are two people that have been most helpful.

What’s next for your business?

JW: Developing relationships with nearby colleges and bridging gaps within the community.