All Things Detroit, a sprawling marketplace of the “best-kept secrets” in Michigan small business, has been the hallmark of founder Jennyfer Crawford’s success.
Now the 37-year-old Detroit native is planning to grow her business by exporting those secrets to the world and inviting small businesses around the country into the circle.
Her latest venture is the All Things Marketplace, an online buy-and-sell community for small businesses that is set to launch July 13. Her aim is to digitalize the physical marketplace.
“It gives small businesses a chance to connect with customers in other states, not just in their local area,” said Crawford, who last year was included in Crain’s 40 Under 40 honorees. “It’s about building a customer base and networking.”
Still in the beta stage, allthingsmarketplace.com is a platform for selling clothes, furniture, handmade and vintage items, jewelry, packaged food and more to come, Crawford said. It is especially attractive for startup businesses without websites because they can make a profile and establish a presence in the online community.
It costs $20 a month for businesses to join the site, with the first 30 days free, Crawford said. The site has 25 businesses and Crawford hopes for 200-300 by year’s end, primarily local and then branching out.
Crawford has so far invested $15,000 into the project — not a small number for her, she said.
“I’m nervous about how people will receive the idea,” she said. “A good nervous, though.”
The entrepreneur is in familiar territory. A few years ago, she bet pretty much everything she had on her brand marketing startup Ask Jennyfer. She had been working on her side business since 2012, but in 2014 quit her job in construction management with $1,500 in the bank.
“I knew it was only going to happen for me if I committed full time,” she said.
Operated out of a two-bedroom apartment in Lafayette Park, the business ran at a loss in the beginning. But Crawford kept at it and, eventually, it happened for her.
Ask Jennyfer’s yearly revenue has grown to around $450,000, Crawford said, and the company — she has one full-time and one part-time assistant — works with more than 500 clients. She started All Things Detroit in 2013 at Eastern Market with 60 vendors and 750 people. Now taking place three times a year, it draws 250 vendors and 12,000 people each go-around, she said. The next one is Nov. 5.
New this year is a small business pop-up Aug. 18-20 at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor. A sort of scaled-down version of the Detroit event, it will feature more than 30 small business vendors, according to its Facebook page.
Crawford said her success is rooted in consistency and goal-setting.
“Let me push forward, let me put myself out there and never give up,” she said. “You have to learn to manage fear because that’s the thing that can take us down.”
To celebrate the website’s launch and Ask Jennyfer’s five-year anniversary, Crawford is throwing an invitation-only party at the Jam Handy in Detroit.