Ink Detroit and I Love Michigan are all About Local Pride

In 2003, Paul Marcial bought a silkscreen press for his rental house in Royal Oak and he and his buddies would mess around with different designs. What started out just for fun – who doesn’t want to design and print their own T-shirts if given the chance? – has now become a popular local brand of apparel boasting Deeee-troit and Michigan pride.
 
Ink Detroit was officially founded in 2005 when partner Steve Mansour came on board and he and Marcial really started taking the concept seriously. Promotion of the brand has been an entirely grassroots, DIY effort: they started out by giving T-shirts to friends and asking them to wear them out and relied a lot of word of mouth. Now there’s social media, which has been a huge boon for them, and their products are also carried in several local retail stores.
 
While they were producing both Detroit- and Michigan-themed T-shirts and apparel, it was the Detroit-themed items that really took off. (And with a name like “Ink Detroit,” it seems only fitting that this would be the immediate association in customers’ minds.)
 
Later the domain www.thegreatlakesstate.com became available, which they purchased and began using as a site to promote Michigan businesses and Michigan-made products. Then they started to sell Michigan-themed designs on the site. Their newly-launched I Love Michigan Shop is already taking off as people from all over the state of Michigan can share in their Great Lakes State pride.
 
“We are really exited to launch the Michigan line,” Marcial says. “[Ink Detroit and I Love Michigan customers] are not two completely different customers, but when we decided to market things differently we realized we were getting customers from all over Michigan.”
 
So far their Detroit track jacket has been a hot seller since 2005, as has merchandise with the slogan “This is how we Do” featuring an old English “D.” Apparel in local sports team colors (like good old orange and navy) are also popular sellers. New additions in Tigers’ and Lions’ team colors that say “Welcome to the Jungle” are also hot sellers. (Note: this is not officially licensed merchandise so you will not actually see team logos on any of the products.) They also have more designs they’ll slowly be releasing, in addition to the dozens already available.
 
Ink Detroit and the I Love Michigan Shop are both web-based businesses. Marcial and Mansour work out of their Royal Oak homes with a warehouse in Southfield. Mansour works the business full-time while Marcial, a graphic designer and landscape architect, is still part-time. They come up with the concepts together, then Marcial does all of the artwork and web design. The goal is to continue to grow and expand the brands, eventually getting Marcial in full-time and hiring others.
 
While they’ve considered opening their own storefront, the online business model is easier to manage with significantly less overhead, though they would like to do a pop-up shop sometime –so keep an eye out for them this holiday season.