In Part 1 of this series, we speak Erin Gavle of Eldorado General Store about entrepreneurship and the shifting culture of Corktown. Now we pass the mic to Erin for an interview with Rohani Foulkes, co-owner of The Farmer’s Hand and the recently opened cafe, Folk.
Interior of the recently opened cafe, Folk. Photo by Emily Berger.
Erin Gavle: How has community played a role in your business? Specifically, how have you been able to participate in strengthening the community where you’ve chosen to set up a business?
Rohani Foulkes: We are located in a historic building, of five female owned businesses, tucked into the neighborhood in Corktown. Our physical location alone has been integral to developing a strong community foundation for our businesses. We’re very active in event planning within our business collective as well as neighborhood wide and being a part of a small collective of businesses has strengthened those efforts. We’re also active members of the Corktown Business Association, which has been critical to remaining abreast to neighborhood goings-on as well as making broader community connections. The business community in Corktown is strong and incredibly supportive of one another. Families and individuals, young and old are always quick to support local efforts such as volunteering, participating in events and lending a hand where needed.
EG: How have events like Spring into Corktown empowered you in engaging with the community?
RF: Being a part of seasonal events such as Spring into Corktown and Corktown-a-Glow have been integral in our efforts to connecting with and getting to know our resident and business neighbors over the years. Through these events we’ve made a great deal of immeasurably strong community connections, with both residents and business owners alike. We’re all for getting our hands in the trash when it comes to volunteering efforts for SIC. We enjoy beautifying our neighborhood alongside our neighbors. Come Christmas time all of our hard work pays off as the joy of CAG comes to life. We’re proud to be one of the many place making spaces around the neighborhood that brings friends and families together to enjoy in holiday festivities.
EG: How have such events positively impacted Corktown? Its businesses and residents? How have they helped positively change the perception of a city and neighborhood?
RF: Neighborhood events such as these act to strengthen bonds, form friendships over hard work, and reap the benefits and joy of seeing the event itself come to life. I’ve seen residents reconnect after time’s lapsed between hellos, kids form friendships, and business owners form strong bonds from these events. They’re something we can—and should—all be proud of and work hard to continue to grow for ourselves and our young people over the years to come!
EG: How has female entrepreneurship played a role in the development of Corktown over the last few years? How do female business owners contribute to the community and neighborhood here in Corktown?
RF: There’s a strong female business ownership presence in Corktown. Being one of five female owned businesses on the corner of Bagley and Trumbull, we’ve found strength in collective efforts such as event planning, everyday problem solving, to building issues as well as collective brainstorming for broader community impact efforts. Personally, I sit on the CBA executive board where three of the five members are women business owners as well as the event committee, where five of half a dozen members are also female business owners. I feel strongly that we’ve been an active force in coming together to collaborate, get things done, and put our efforts into effect!
EG: How has the neighborhood changed since you opened The Farmers Hand? And how has that allowed you to build upon your business and open Folk?
RF: Corktown is growing rapidly. With that, we’ve seen a growing demand in products and service offerings here at The Farmer’s Hand. Foot traffic and demand has also contributed to our opening FOLK.
EG: What are some of the Spring into Corktown aspects or activities that you’re most excited about?
RF: As a mum, I’m always excited about kids’ events and this year’s line-up is really exciting, with expanded offerings all over the neighborhood. Events will take place at PAL, Eldorado General Store, Bobcat Bonnie’s, as well as the corner of Bagley & Trumbull—and I can’t wait to see the kids parade alongside the Detroit Mounter police! I also personally love planting, so I’ll take part in that.
EG: Your role in planning these events has been largely based around beautifying the neighborhood (planting and clean-up) and working closely with Motor City Makeover. Can you talk about why that’s a passion of yours? And why that’s so important?
RF: Moving to Michigan from Australia was a culture shock in more than one way for me. The most unexpected and difficult effects was the long grey dark winters we experience here in the upper U.S.. The experience of spring here in Michigan is pretty special, seeing things come back to life is an exceptional force in many folk’s mental, physical, and emotional health—and I want to be a part of the effort to spread that love throughout our neighborhood. It makes me happy!
Follow this link to learn more about Spring into Corktown.