Tell us about Mama Coo’s Boutique!
Alana Rodriguez: Mama Coo’s is a resale vintage shop that also holds handmade pieces by myself and local Detroit artists. It’s a laid back neighborhood store. The inventory is constantly changing and it all represents me! From everything that I pick, the music, the atmosphere, how I talk to people. People embrace it. I feel that my store is not just benefitting me, its benefitting the neighborhood. This neighborhood deserves this store, I deserve this store. A neighborhood should have a gift shop. There is always something new for people to look forward to. I appreciate everyone coming from the suburbs but I want to make sure the people from up the street can come here, be treated well, have great customer service, can buy awesome gifts, buy treats for themselves and be happy spending their money here.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
AR: I grew up on Clark St. and would have to go to the suburbs to buy a gift for a party next door. There was nowhere to go. I’ve learned that Mama Coo’s is an awesome gift shop. It’s cool to know that people buy something from me to give as a gift. Your dream is your dream and you have to pursue it. If not now, then when? If I wasn’t ballsy enough to say “I’m going to open a store” I wouldn’t have this. You have to make that decision. It’s scary, but you have to or it would always be, “what if”. Southwest Detroit has always been a small business community with people walking the streets. Seeing that my whole life it wasn’t weird but I took it for granted. Small businesses is a Detroit thing, we are used to small businesses. When I left to the suburbs and out of state, I knew I was lucky to see that my whole life.
“BUILD helped me see that it’s possible, that I can do this.”
What was your experience with BUILD?
AR: BUILD’s Etsy Entrepreneurship course helped me see that it’s possible, that I can do this. I see it as a great support system for mentorship, an awesome network, and the community. It’s good to know that you have so many different creatives that you can call for anything and through that you are helping other small businesses; that’s my team. I won Motor City Match (MCM) and recieved money through them. I knew I was going to open but MCM made it easier to open sooner, to buy items from artists instead of having them on consignment.
What’s next for Mama Coo’s?
AR: I just do social media right now but I’m going to invest in a PR person soon. People are responding to the things that I pick out myself and I have to wear every hat right now. It’s a little hard I have to find everything, make everything, run everything, but eventually I’ll be able to hire someone that I trust to be in the store. I’ve always hustled and had two or three jobs. I still hustle but in a different way. Now I have to take my hustling hat off and put a business owner hat on. I need to focus on myself and the store being successful because that’s what really matters, I would spread myself so thin sometimes. I can sell things all day but if I don’t have a grasp on the business of everything it will fail.