Locally Grown 2016

Our annual Locally Grown section celebrates the hereos of Washtenaw County— small business owners that give back to the community. These men and women help to make Washtenaw County an amazing place to live, work and play. To celebrate, we asked them questions about their businesses, who they admire and what being a hero means to them, after all, they are the experts.

Tarek & Rachel Kanaan

Rachel Kanaan

Unity Vibration | 93 Ecorse Rd.
734-277-4063 | unityvibrationkombucha.com

How did you get started? 
Travel, camaraderie with others, brew development and talking to fans! Talking with those folks which have had a difference in their health due to kombucha.

Nominate another local hero and tell us why.
Annie Elder of Community Farm. Maker and co-founder of the first and only Biodynamic Farm, the first local and organic farm, 25-plus years ago! She is a gentle yet strong force behind Community Farm doing one of the most important jobs in the world.

What is your favorite local establishment (other than your business) and why? 
We love the Lunch Room in A2. It provides the community with an ethical and quality vegan option for all. We also love Ypsi Food Coop— it’s a community pillar.

Becky Winkler Dhakal & Binod Dhakal

Cardamom Restaurant | 1739 Plymouth Rd.
734-662-2877 | cardamoma2.com

What does heroism mean to you?
It is an activist who creates a shift in society or collective thinking to what is right and just. A person who is fearless in the face of mass-mind to create real positive change for society. Those that lead with love not hate that are truly selfless.

How did you get started?
We’ve both been in the restaurant and food retail industry as long as we can remember. Between the two of us we’ve been manager, server, chef, buyer, supervisor, busser, prep cook, signmaker at a dozen different restaurants. Starting our own place has been a dream since 2002 when we married. We wrote eight different business plans for eight different pieces of real estate over eight years (while also having two babies). Everything came together for us at Cardamom and we are thrilled by the support we’ve received from our community, staff and associates.

Nominate another local hero and tell us why.
Zingerman’s Community of Businesses and specifically Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, founding partners, are our heroes and mentors. We couldn’t thank them enough for the positive things they are doing throughout our community, including being role models for small business and putting Ann Arbor on the food map.

Claire Broderick

Sprig Hair Studio 21 | 3050 Washtenaw Ave.
734-224-2288 | sprighair.com

What’s the best part about your job?
My clients. I love my clients. I strive to do my absolute best for them. To support them, have them feel amazing about their hair. I love the variety in life. The people, the stories, the adventures, the ideas, new and growing everyday. I have learned so much.

What is your favorite local establishment (other than your business) and why? 
Orbit Hair Design, my base of stylists who will always be my family. I was taken under the wing of some of the best local hair designers you could ever know. Some of what I’ve learned there is how to express my inner self, build confidence in myself and in others, provide fantastic customer service and respect the business. I love them all dearly and am thrilled I was able to spend nearly 13 years of my career amongst my mentors. The support I was given in finding the new opportunity of Sprig Hair Studio 21 in the Sola Salons of Ann Arbor is unsurpassable by a large margin. I have a lot of favorite local establishments as I was born and raised locally here, but I will always Love Orbit Hair Design. They are my favorite establishment, other than Sprig Hair.

Patrick Schaefer

Bespoke Jewelry Company | 1327 Jones Dr. #202
734-358-7095 | bespokefinejewelry.com

How do you get started?
The boring part is we’ve been in the Jewelry business for 25 + years. The exciting part was/is figuring out how to apply new technology to an old industry. Kind of like teaching an old dog a new trick. With 3D printing and Rapid Prototyping we’re putting a fresh new spin on the jewelry buying experience.

What’s the best part about your job? 
Without question, its collaborating with our clients. In our old retail world we had lots of great customers. What we’re doing now really gives us a chance to get to know our clients on a much more personal, relaxed level.

Tell us something inspiring you’ve learned along the way. 
Our favorite saying is, “It’s more than just jewelry.”  When your business becomes less about how great you are and more about just relaxing and having fun with your clients, it’s not work at all!

Ann Farnham

Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop | 2280 S. Industrial Hwy.
734-996-9155 | a2ptothriftshop.org

What’s the best part about your job? 
The people — the people I work alongside and the people I meet every day at the shop.

Tell us something inspiring you’ve learned along the way. 
Try to be kind and put people before “stuff” and you’ll never go wrong. A wise friend — a mother of six! — helped me through a challenging time and I draw on this whenever I get caught up or bogged down in pettiness.

What’s your favorite local establishment? 
Pittsfield Village — the beautiful townhouse condo (then co-op) community where we first moved and raised our two kids — would have to tie with Pittsfield Elementary School where I built the friendships and memories that form the foundation of my life here in Ann Arbor. The staff and teachers, families and friendships, connections and trust that we forged there endure to this day — they are part of our Ann Arbor family.

Roy Xu

Robin Hills Farm | 20390 M-52, Chelsea
734-929-2423 | robinhillsfarm.com

Who was your childhood hero?
I’ve looked up to my father all my life. He has a sense of strong community relationship and empathy with everyone around him. If I can be half as good as my father, that would be my greatest achievement.

What does heroism mean to you? 
To me, heroism isn’t about big muscles, super strength. It’s someone who takes care of his or her responsibilities. Responsibilities towards your family, or your job or your country.

What is your favorite local establishment (other than your business) and why?
Zingerman’s. They started as a very small business and grew to great success by offering great products and services, and treating everyone with dignity and respect along the way.

Dina Hough

A2 Yoga | 2030 Commerce Blvd.
734-997-0805 | a2yoga.net

Tell us something inspiring you’ve learned along the way. 
I’ve learned to not take myself so seriously, which is a hard lesson as a business owner. That’s why I started doing standup comedy at Pointless Brewery. If you look closely, life’s actually pretty damn funny. Especially, for me with all this cancer stuff, I’ve had to find my sense of humor.

How did you get started? 
Ana, my sister and owner of A2 Yoga, asked me to come on board and help manage the studio. Both my parents, especially my dad, recognized that it was a good fit for the family and a good fit for me. Knowing I had the support of the entire family really encouraged me to grow the business and take it to the next level. For me, a part of it is that my own personal hero, my dad, saw my potential and really encouraged me to take the next step, and the opportunity was presented by my own sister, which was even more special.

What’s your favorite local establishment?
I love the Mail Shoppe, obviously, because my mom owns it; it’s a unique place to get your mail and get the real local news from the people who work there. The YMCA and the Ann Arbor Public Library are both good places because they hold a space for community, and a lot of cool classes and activities.

Michael and Hillary Gustafson

Michael Gustafson

Literati Bookstore | 124 E. Washington St.
734-585-5567 | literatibookstore.com

How did you get started? 
My wife and I started Literati Bookstore in the spring of 2013. At the time, bookstores across the country were closing. Many people thought (and still think) we were foolish. But, three years later, we’ve had incredible support from Ann Arbor, and we’re thrilled this dream has stayed alive.

Nominate another local hero and tell us why. 
I believe the people who sell Groundcover News around downtown Ann Arbor are heroes. Many pedestrians ignore them, turn their heads, walk away, give them looks, and yet, many continue to smile and passionately support a platform to connect to the community and share important stories.

What is your favorite local establishment? 
There are many great other independent bookstores downtown, each offering a new and different perspective and inventory. Even though I own a bookshop, I love wandering into other bookstores and discovering something new. One of my favorites is West Side Book Shop — at night, the shop is so beautiful and warm, it looks like it’s from an old movie.

Brothers Jeff and Marc Taras

Jeff Taras

PJ’s Records | 6178 Packard Rd.
734-663-3441 | facebook.com/pjsusedrecords

What does heroism mean to you?
Heroism is doing the right things constantly, for the right reasons, despite the repercussions.

Who was a hero you had from childhood?
Various local stars like Al Kaline and Gordie Howe, but also my father, a high school teacher who was beloved by his students.

Nominate another local hero and tell us why.
My friend and customer Chris Zemke of Avalon Housing. He does hands-on caregiving that defines how we treat the least among us, which defines us all.

Reynold Lowe

Materials Unlimited | 2 W. Michigan Ave.
734-483-6980 | materialsunlimited.com

What does heroism mean to you?
It is an opportunity to give something unique back to the local community.

How did you get started?
I sold Architectural Salvage from the Michigan Municipal League Building in 1971 prior to its demolition.

Nominate another local hero and tell us why.
Dr. Edward Linkner because of his dedication to his profession and his patients.

Dan Kolander

Dan’s Downtown Tavern | 103 E. Michigan Ave. | Saline
734-429-3159 | facebook.com/DANSBARS

Nominate another local hero and tell us why.
My Hometown Hero is Kenny Bowen from Saline. I have known Kenny since he was 10-years-old. I have watched him grow to become a helluva good man. He served in the Marine Corps, lost his platoon from an IED and was seriously injured. He lost his brother Geoffrey Bowen, also a Marine and father, and has just stayed focused on life. I am very proud to know him and his family.

Who was your childhood hero?
My Dad was my biggest hero. He worked very hard and was a great father and taught me that you have to work hard to achieve. I try and carry on that tradition with my children and hope they learn from it.

What’s the best part about your job?
The best part of my job is I am an entrepreneur. I actually own something and have started and built a business from basically nothing. If I fail it’s my fault. I make my own hours, and I am responsible for 50 people’s livelihoods. I have made mistakes and learned from them but the most important thing is the customer. They are number one. Without them I am nothing.

Irene Thompson

Collected Works | 303 Detroit St., Suite 107
734-995-4222 | collectedworksannarbor.com

Tell us something inspiring you’ve learned along the way.
During this political season, I was inspired by President Obama’s commencement speech at Howard University. He said that even if you are 100% right, in a democracy you have to compromise. I would like to be the change that I want to see. I would like us all to listen and learn from each other.

What does heroism mean to you?
Heroes to me, in my years at U-M, were the leaders from my dormitory, who organized the Black Action Movement in 1970.  Those women were incredibly dynamic and taught me a lot.  Also, my Uncle Bob, who served in WWII as Patton’s photographer. He was among the first troops to liberate the concentration camps. He never had a full night’s rest after the war, too many unpleasant memories, but he had a smile on his face and was grateful for every day.

What’s the best part about your job?
The best part of my job at Collected Works is being such a part of this community.  At the store, we do everything we can to have women feel great in the apparel that they buy. It is really a “women’s corner” and supportive of our clients in so many ways.  Amid trying on clothes, we talk about feet, and weight, and grandchildren, and college searches, and food, and politics!  All of this while finding the right outfit for a wedding or an art fair. I sincerely believe what we choose to wear is our own daily art.  Life is short. Be art!

Jason Povlich

Jet’s Pizza | 506 N. Main St. | Chelsea
734-433-9700 | jetspizza.com

Tell us something inspiring you’ve learned along the way. 
I do not want to do business to just make money. I want to do business with purpose. I have found that the more I focus on giving, the happier I am.

Nominate another local hero and tell us why. 
Wow, so many. But to mention one, that would definitely have to be local artists The Ragbirds. These guys have inspired me to be a better husband and father. They have a great message that is deep and relevant.

What’s the best part about your job? 
Best part of my job is to see young people excel in our restaurants. As great as it is to see people smiling enjoying some great pizza and good ale, I love seeing people empowered by our leaders to run after their dreams.

+ posts

Recent Articles