Although she now lives in Chicago, former Detroiter Amy Reeber continues to support her hometown through her entrepreneurial efforts. She makes and sells T-shirts that read “Proud Detroit Native.”
Reeber — who said she didn’t leave Detroit, she just went to Chicago — got the idea a few years ago when she was back in town. She was enjoying some of the events surrounding the Super Bowl, and a thought came to her that she was a proud Detroit native. It then occurred to her to put that phrase on a shirt.
“I just worked on a very, very simple design for a while, and I eventually put a couple of hundred T-shirts in print,” she said.
Her shirts — that come in long- and short-sleeve varieties — read “Proud D Native” on one line, and “Detroit” centered below that (all in lowercase). The design supercedes an earlier one which had the “D” in the old English font. Reeber decided to change it to avoid infringing on the Detroit Tigers’ trademark.
“With or without the old English D, I think the message of my design is clear,” she said.
She’s given some thought to other possible designs, but has no real plan to create them.
“It’s a simple design,” she admitted. “But I like it.”
For the most part Reeber has sold her shirts via word of mouth to friends and family. But last year at Christmas she had a few for sale in Detroit Artists Market on Woodward and Spectacles on Grand River.
“I’m pretty good friends with the woman who owns Spectacles,” Reeber said. “She’s on Grand River and Broadway. So, at Christmas time last year, a I put a few shirts in each of their shops and sold a few, but again, mostly I’ve been selling to friends and family.”
She added that, at the moment, she doesn’t have a large supply of shirts. However, she’s thinking of doing another run of them in preparation for Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer.
Reeber said people have asked her why she doesn’t make shirts promoting other cities, like “proud Chicago” or “proud Atlanta.”
“That’s somebody else’s shirt,” she said. “I’m a Detroiter, and I just kind of like this message.”
Reeber also has no plans to grow into a full line of merchandise, such as coffee mugs. She said she doesn’t want her T-shirts to be a product people can buy at the airport.
“It’s kind of my other little gig right now,” she said.
In her “day job” she’s a corporate event planner for BCD Meetings and Incentives in Chicago.
While coffee mugs are out, Reeber would make sweatshirts. She said she’s received a lot of requests for them, particularly from men.
She notes that it would be fun to see people walking down the street wearing her shirt. She has seen friends or friends of friends wearing the shirts in photos on their Facebook pages.