944 Meets Detroit Rock City’s Movers and Shakers
Written by: Laura Weiner | Photography by: Lians and Michelle
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The following people are artists, promoters, tastemakers and entrepreneurs. Most importantly, they are our neighbors who are pushing Detroit back into the spotlight. Shot at the beautiful home of Mark Robert in Bloomfield Hills, these stylish trendsetters prove to be like the city they live in; They are real and ready for whatever life throws at them.
Paul Jenkins, Jr.
What Crêpe?, The Black Pearl and Theatro
When Paul Jenkins Jr. isn’t being the senior vice president of the construction firm MiG, the owner of What Crêpe? in Royal Oak and co-owner of The Black Pearl in Ann Arbor and Theatro in Chicago, he is also being exactly what his grandmother, Hertha, wanted. When she passed she asked Jenkins to keep her legacy alive by encouraging kids in Detroit to get an education. The former Los Angeles party promoter for music celebs like P.Diddy and Missy Elliott says giving away scholarships and speaking at schools isn’t about getting children to follow one path, but about creating their own. “I am not perfect, I have made mistakes,” he says. “All I ask is that they try to be well-rounded, be a good student, friend, family member and worker.”
There is an almost fashionable juxtaposition between John Arnold, creative director at Linda Dresner, and the cutting-edge designer clothes that the Birmingham store carries. “I was once mistaken for a homeless man,” says Arnold, who has worked at the store for nine years. Wearing a cut-off T-shirt and jeans outside in the winter doesn’t only make women want to offer him change (or in his case, something from Starbucks), but it makes him a reflection of the city and garments that surround him. “I love that Detroit is harsh while also being very beautiful,” he explains. The pieces in the store have that same appeal, and Arnold wouldn’t have it any other way. “We can’t be everything to everybody, but we serve a clientele that has a point of view, and they want to express that through their fashion.”
Athina and Stella Papas
Athina and Stella Papas want people to leave their Detroit restaurant feeling like they have traveled the globe. With cuisine ranging from Asian to Italian and a décor to match, the sisters left no detail spared. Their father, owner of Greektown’s Pegasus Taverna, never pressured any of his kids to follow in his footsteps. But after graduating from the University of Michigan and working in the hospitality industry, Athina was eager to create a place similar to restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, while still making diners feel at home. She convinced Stella, who also graduated from the University of Michigan, to put her University of Miami law degree on the back burner and join her at Mosaic. Most days customers will find Athina greeting guests and Stella behind the bar, mixing her favorite cocktails.
Music Producer, Artist
Signed with Warp Records at 18, Jimmy Edgar has released several records, singles and remixes that have won him acclaim, but what he thinks has won him notoriety is the sexual tension he releases in his music. He was celibate for several months in preparation for one of his albums. That’s a tough thing, considering the electronic music producer, now turned artist and fashion photographer, says he finds inspiration from being around beautiful people. Edgar’s love affair with music started when he was a child, playing the drums. Soon after, at 14, he started playing at Detroit raves. He has traveled the world to play his music, but most recently has been spending his time in a more traditional way. Edgar is currently collaborating with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit on some design pieces for upcoming events and exhibitions.
While growing up in the late ’60s and ’70s, Camilo Pardo watched a lot of dynamic, bright cars driving up and down his street. He knew instantly he wanted to design such cars, and he also knew something that helped him to later become the chief designer of the Ford GT: he likes to drive really fast. The artist, who graduated from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, left his post at Ford this past January, after 24 years, to work on fine art and design out of his own studio. Using aluminum, glass, rubber and plastics, Pardo now designs furniture and fashion in his Detroit art gallery and studio. He also uses the space to showcase artists from around the world and to host some of the popular art and design receptions the designer is known for.
Most people have never seen Lisa Maas, but they have definitely seen her product. She is the president of Publicity Works, a Royal Oak public relations firm that handles press for places like Vinotecca and Bastone. The company has recently started taking a new approach to its clients’ needs by integrating social marketing into its processes and offering solutions à la carte. This approach has allowed Publicity Works to continue to thrive in a city that Maas says has been torn down, providing unique opportunities for rebuilding.
If not for the strong hand of the law, Shades, a graffiti artist, would be Mr. Yagaboo. “Someone in school started calling me that, and it would have been my tag, but it was too long to write when you are trying to avoid the cops in Detroit,” he says. Going back to the fact that he loved to constantly wear sunglasses as a kid, he started calling himself Shades. The name, and the artist’s designs, caught on. So much so, that while working as a garbage man he got a call from someone at The Detroit Institute of Arts wanting him to show his work. Similar to what he was spraying on buildings but only on a smaller scale, now Shades’ pieces have been sold to buyers across the world. Plus, he recently worked on Michigan State University’s Holden Hall.
Andiamo Restaurant Group
When Theresa Vicari took her job at Andiamo, she did so with the hopes to keep the quality the same but encourage a younger demographic to come enjoy the Italian restaurant. Vicari creates promotional materials specific to each of the 11 locations, as well as some of her family’s other venues, including Cheli’s Chili of Clinton Township, Freedom Hill Amphitheatre and Andiamo Celebrity Showroom. With each location serving a different need there really is a place for everyone. Vicari suggests the Royal Oak branch for those having drinks with friends, or the Bloomfield location for a business lunch. New ideas come from other Detroit restaurant owners. “There really is a great camaraderie amongst all of us," she says.
Heidi Bashar Salon
Bashar Kallabat, co-owner of Heidi Bashar Salon, isn’t afraid to switch things up, even without a pair of scissors. The hairstylist, who started practicing his trade on his family members when he was 12, moved his salon from Birmingham to The Somerset Collection last year. The move is working just as Kallabat had hoped, garnering more mass appeal while still keeping up with high-fashion trends. He says he and his stylists look to fashion to direct which hairstyles they suggest for their clients. For fall, which is Kallabat’s favorite season because people come in wanting a new look, stylists are suggesting a very modern ’80s look, with shaggier ends. He also has a new all-natural daily supplement coming out called Bashar Nutriments, which promote healthy hair, a healthy body and prevent hair loss. All of this, he says, comes down to more than what’s on your head, but what’s inside of it. “The feeling I get from seeing someone who loves what we have done, who feels beautiful from the inside out, that is indescribable to me.”
Neil Rockind, P.C.
As a lawyer, Neil Rockind can best be described in the same way he describes the city of Detroit: “Tough, and if you pick a fight with us, you better be prepared to fight to the end.” This hard-hitting attitude has earned the defender the nickname, “the Rockweiler” and clients like Jack Kevorkian and Eminem’s ex-wife, Kim. He has worked on both sides of the law, as the assistant prosecuting attorney in the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and as a defender, but says he was born for what he is doing now. He relishes being somebody’s first call when they get in trouble, joking that his number should be 1-800-GETMYASSOFF.
Georges Mokbel, General Manager at Iridescence inside the Motor City Casino, has lived all over the world and studied culinary art under some of the biggest names in the industry, but there is one thing he says he can’t get anywhere else but right here in Detroit: Sanders Hot Fudge. Not to say he uses much of it in his Mediterranean-inspired dishes. His love for cooking began as a child, growing up during the Lebanese Civil War. With no running water or electricity at times, Mokbel and his family had to be flexible with limited options, something that he still carries with him today. He has written a cookbook, Everyday to Gourmet, that shows people how to make things both simply, and the way chefs prepare it.
Jason Huvaere’s electronic music event-production company and record label, Paxahau Promotions Group, had a lot on its plate when it was asked to produce the Movement 2006 Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF). With only eight weeks they faced incredible challenges, but none too big for what Huvaere calls his “amazing team that loves Detroit with all their souls.” With very few exceptions, the company, which was started in 1998, completely changed the festival. They have produced Movement every year since. Paxahau also works on events like Comerica Cityfest, Detroit’s Winter Blast, Detroit Restaurant Week and did events for the Superbowl and Final Four. Music, he says, provides the ultimate content to an event, while Detroit is the ultimate venue.