The Peacock Room in the Park Shelton was once part of Detroit’s most posh hotel dining rooms. Back when it was the Wardell Apartment Hotel. in 2011, when Rachel Lutz was signing the lease on her first boutique, the similarities weren’t that obvious.
The room’s elegance was disguised in drop ceilings and drywall everything: a tucked away corner spot suitable for big ideas and a modest budget, it was a fine location for a first-time entrepreneur whose “a-ha” moment followed an unexpected break from a longtime retail management position. What Rachel lacked in resources, however, she made up for in experience and insight.
This was before Shinola and Dan Gilbert. Like her Midtown neighbor Liz Blondy with her doggy daycare business, Canine to Five, Rachel was making a bold move: Retail in Detroit wasn’t most people’s idea of get rich quick—or get rich at all.
But sometimes one strikes gold
While renovating her tiny retail space, Rachel discovered a gem buried beneath the dry wall—many of the room’s original details left intact, including gold-painted ceiling and marble floors.
Less than a decade later, her shop has expanded into a budding fashion empire with a multi-brand portfolio, including Yama and Frida, a second Peacock Room location, in the Fisher Building, and a robust pop-up schedule.
We caught up with Rachel to talks retail in Detroit and shares her advice on landing your dream fashion job—with her!
CV Henriette: Why Detroit?
Rachel Lutz: Any Detroit resident can tell you that we have such an underserved need of retail, especially apparel, for a long time. When it came time to open my business, I didn’t consider anywhere else.
CVh: What’s your history with the city?
RL: I am a fourth generation Detroit business owner. My parents took me to their offices in the city all the time as a child- in the Whitney Mansion before it opened as a restaurant, the Fisher Building, Greektown. My dad used to let me wander around downtown by myself when I was 12, in the early ’90s (not sure if my mom knew about that). I’ve been volunteering for political campaigns in the city since I was 13. I’ve lived in the city since 1998.
CVh: How did you decide to open your first store, the Peacock Room?
RL: I hate shopping. So I wanted to create environments where people could fall in love with it again.
CVh: How has your business expanded since opening your first location?
RL: We’ve expanded to four stores since I opened the first one in 2011. Mostly by accident! The Peacock Room (two locations) is vintage-inspired, Yama is modern and edgy, and Frida is casual, everyday looks.
CVh: How has Detroit’s retail landscape changed since that time?
RL: Holy smokes, Detroit’s retail scene has changed leaps and bounds. Mostly at the higher end of the scale- there are a lot of luxury stores popping up, and I’ve seen several close soon after they open. I hope to see more stores open that serve a wider variety of people. Brick and mortar stores are places of human connection, and are important in every neighborhood, especially in this electronic age.
CVh: What has entrepreneurship taught you about being a boss?
RL: Your employees are the most important part of the business.
CVh: What positions are you looking to fill?
RL: Full-time, part-time, and seasonal. This is our theatre and pop-up season as well, which means some shorter but extremely fun shifts for people with especially bubbly personalities.
CVh: What do you look for in an employee?
RL: Self-sufficient, confident, energetic, results-driven, creative stylists with a desire to provide attentive service. We tend to look for people who genuinely want to engage in conversation with our visitors.
CVh: Benefits of working at The Peacock Room?
RL: It’s joyful to help other people feel beautiful and happy every day. We are lucky to have the BEST customers. You get to work in two beautiful Detroit neighborhoods. And we happen to have an awesome employee discount program.
CVh: Biggest challenge to new hires?
RL: Resisting the employee discount.
CVh: Words of wisdom to new staff members?
RL: Prepare to meet the most wonderful customers you’ll ever work with.