Up Close and Personal with Awesome Grantee Margarita Barry
Margarita Barry, Founder, I Am Young Detroit
Interview Questions: By Vickie Elmer, Awesome Trustee
You run a web design firm, I Am Young Detroit and have some other projects too. Tell us about how you manage your time, energy and deadlines.
Time management is important for any entrepreneur, but especially if you’re running more than one business. One really cool thing about my ventures is that they all have overlapping missions and visions, so I tend to find ways to combine efforts, especially when it comes to promotion. For instance for I Am Young Detroit’s 2.0 launch, I created a mini catalog/magazine that featured some of our featured Young Doers, modeling clothing and goods that people can purchase from D:pop which is one of the current projects I’m running under the Detroit POP umbrella. Inside of D:pop I’m able to carry a few of the products from my Bohomodern label, which exposes the brand to customers beyond the web. I love the fact that I Am Young Detroit is mostly web-based, so it’s really flexible in that I can edit and update the website anywhere with a computer and Internet access.
Given any time of the day, I’m usually working on two or more of any of my ventures at a time and I love it, it keeps me on my toes…there’s always something to do! That said I do have set priorities, I Am Young Detroit and Detroit Pop are ventures that I focus on, on a daily basis—both of those businesses have part-time and freelance employees so there’s the added responsibility of making sure that we meet certain goals and outcomes because of the stakeholders dependent on their success. With my web/graphic design business Detroit Design Lab I take on clients on a case-by-case basis, they are usually non-profit organizations or small businesses whose missions I can really get behind. Whereas Bohomodern is strictly a passion project, I get to create and sell things that I love and if someone decides to purchase something it’s simply a bonus! I think if I wasn’t passionate about everything that I do then I wouldn’t be able to keep them running, let alone balance the work load.
What’s been the biggest surprise about running I Am Young Detroit? What have you learned about the D and its people?
The biggest surprise so far is the continued support of the local community. For the past three years I’ve published I Am Young Detroit out of sheer passion, I haven’t been paid or funded (before Awesome News Taskforce of course!) to keep the website going. It’s the local community that has helped to validate what I Am Young Detroit does, that the work I’m doing with it isn’t just “cool” but important work that needs to be done. What I’ve learned about Detroiters along the way, is that everyone has that same inherent need to feel valued. And that’s what I aimed to do with the site since the beginning, to spotlight young Doers who are bringing value to the city of Detroit through their businesses and movements, and now with CitySpotters we’re encouraging the general public to provide value to the young Doers.
2. How do you keep yourself engaged, creative and excited?
I stay engaged, creative, and excited just by the sheer inspiration obtained by reading and writing about how people of all ages are making change and putting their own unique stamps on the city. Just working on I Am Young Detroit, I continue to get this overwhelming feeling that I could be doing so much more! So that keeps me motivated to not just go with the status quo, I love I Am Young Detroit as it exists, but never intended for it to just be a website..hence our slogan “Not just a blog, we’re a movement!”. There’s so many goals I’ve had in mind for the website, and it’s a challenge, but it’s that energy from the website that keeps me motivated to achieve those goals.
What do you hope to accomplish with CitySpotters? And what have you spotted lately that you thought would be a perfect item for it?
I Am Young Detroit has successfully collected soft “data” for three years by accepting nominations through its website. CitySpotters is simply a next phase nomination system that allows us to gather more advanced data—still gathering informative content—but also finding new ways to share this data and new tools to allow citizens to champion local businesses. We’ve launched the beta version on July 2nd, 2012. We’ll be using IAmYoungDetroit.com and Google Maps API to populate the city’s “bright spots” of young entrepreneurs and movements, tell their stories, and encourage users to engage and interact with them online and off. We’ve also organized several drop-off locations that will allow people to “spot” in physical spaces around Detroit, and plan on introducing our mobile and SMS app in the near future.
With CitySpotters, we’re making it easier for everyday people to find and support the under-the-radar and next-gen businesses that, when combined, play a vital role in boosting Detroit’s economy. I Am Young Detroit and CitySpotters are creating an eco-system that engages the general public with young entrepreneurs in ways that are mutually beneficial. Using the two, users can Get Inspired by reading their Stories, Learn to do-it-themselves through collaborative how-to Guides, Connect with Doers through interactive features and engagement opportunities, Explore their favorite Places, ask them their most thought-provoking Questions, and of course Champion them as “spotters”, mentors, resource providers, and local patrons.Some of the ideas I’ve spotted myself recently are Dew and A Girls Guide To Detroit.
How do you define success and how has that changed in the last year or two?
Success for me is being able to pursue my passions, make a honest living doing so, and make a difference in the lives of others along the way. It’s a personal goal for myself, is something that I still haven’t attained yet, but is humble enough that it’s not so out of reach that I can’t imagine it happening. I have faith that I’ll achieve that level of success someday. In the meantime, I truly do enjoy publishing other people’s success stories and feel honored to be recognized as a resource for others aiming to do the same.
What new tools and sites does anyone who wants to have a great media site in Detroit need to master?
Definitely invest time and energy into learning content management systems (CMS) like WordPress (my expertise), social media management, and basic design skills. I got my start teaching myself web design, CMS, and graphic design and probably wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have without having those skills as a foundation. Once you have that, it’s easy to execute your best ideas without a huge team that you can’t yet afford.