Q&A with Chris Reynolds from Detroit Life
Metro Detroit is no stranger to struggles. In fact, it is the tenacity of the locals in the face of hardship, around which Chris Reynolds has shaped the brand of his clothing company, Detroit Life. The owner and operator of the Roseville-based manufacturer has a store at Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Township, as well as distributors in downtown Detroit, Troy’s Somerset Mall and throughout Macomb County, but with premises from brick-and-mortar facing an uncertain future in In the wake of COVID-19, it is online sales and awareness that have supported his business during the pandemic.
Reynolds shares his experience with Metromode and explains how a famous hip-hop artist stepped in to help during the pandemic.
Metromode: What has been the impact of COVID-19 on your business?
Chris Reynolds: During the first COVID-19 shutdown, our Partridge Creek Mall store was closed for two and a half months which significantly affected in-person sales, but we were still able to get sales online. All of our booked events were canceled which hit the business hard, with a profit loss of around 30-40%, but online sales help keep the business afloat.
We are now open again in the store and have opened a pop-up in [Village of] Rochester Hills Mall from October to December, and I had a manager who worked at the Rochester store with an employee. During the holidays, I had three employees who worked part-time at the Partridge Creek store and I worked weekends. Partridge is still open every weekend and doing well and we love and appreciate all of our customers who stop by our store. We continue to wait for events to resume, hopefully this spring.
Hip-hop artist Swifty McVay partners with Detroit Life clothing during COVID-19.What has helped your business keep going?
Online sales helped maintain revenue, and Detroit Life partnered with D12 artist Swifty McVay. We collaborated on a Swifty McVay clothing line, he came out with a Detroit Life LP album and a “Welcome To Detroit” music video with the cast wearing Detroit Life clothing. Swifty promoted and posted articles about Detroit Life on its social media platforms, which helped the company gain more recognition. We also had a Black Friday sale which also generated a lot of sales, and I made an appearance in the news. [WXYZ] Channel 7 which really helped spread the word about our name.
Now that businesses are reopening, what’s the biggest challenge for you?
With businesses reopening, our biggest challenge is still the competitors as well as whether or not this summer’s events will start again. Holding events helps us get our name known to more surrounding areas in the Michigan area, as well as more sales.
How did the community react?
After I appeared on Channel 7, many customers came to Partridge Creek Mall and our pop-up store and said they heard about us on TV and wanted to help the locals. We have a lot of repeat customers and new, dedicated customers who all say they love to shop locally and show their love and support for Detroit Life, and they love what the brand stands for.
What time or response or reaction gave you hope for your business during this pandemic?
Rick Wershe aka White Boy Rick came to the store because he loves the Detroit Life brand and movement. He bought a ton of gear and even bought another customer’s purchase (paying for it up front) which showed there was love and hope in this world. even during a pandemic. Rick wanted to shop and support the locals and he is one of the many celebrities who came to support Detroit Life. We had Mark Wahlberg, Royce Da 5’9 “, and Trick Trick to name a few who support the brand and did photos or a video in it.
What do you predict, and what do you hope for, for the rest of the year?
We have a ton of plans for this year. I launched my two year old daughter’s own clothing line, Simply Sadie, to bring joy and hope to every little girl around the world, and we also have a BIKE LIFE 313 motorcycle brand. hope the events reopen this summer and we can reopen our stands.
Personally, I think things will turn around, maybe not 100% at first, but they are already turning around, in my opinion. I can’t speak to other brands or companies, but we are fortunate to be always open and moving forward.