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Brandon Colvin

It's not very often we hear the story of a politician turned artist, but Brandon Colvin left his career in Washington, D.C., to work in the arts. Colvin saw in himself and others an artist waiting to be born. He established CANVASxDetroit to teach others the ability to create art.

The motto for the Detroit arts and entertainment business is "in each of us an artist," and the classes offer an affordable way for everyone to engage with visual arts. Colvin sees CANVASxDetroit as a way to bring together people to enjoy art.

"Arts are under appreciated in many cities. CANVASxDetroit brings the opportunity to make art more accessible in Detroit," Colvin says. "It helps Detroiters, working class people, see art as something they can enjoy and appreciate too."

Brandon first came to Detroit because he was familiar with many of the recent business initiatives and was drawn to the history of the city. He was familiar with the story of the American city in decline and wanted to be a part of the small business growth.

"I saw lot of opportunity to start a business and have support to do this in Detroit," Colvin says.

When Colvin moved to Detroit he enrolled in D:hive's BUILD program, an eight week small business planning course. The idea to start CANVASxDetroit came to him while participating in the BUILD class. Colvin had seen a similar successful model for arts classes in Metro Detroit, but knew that Detroit didn't offer this type of entertainment. He then graduated and was award two months of free retail space off of Woodward downtown through D:hive's Pilot retail program.

The free retail space and marketing support helped Brandon jumpstart his entrepreneurial endeavors in Detroit. He opened the arts entertainment and painting classes in late summer of 2013, and was successful in finding his first customers. At the end of the program, Colvin received assistance through Revolve Detroit to establish his store on the Livernois Avenue, an area that was one known as a historic shopping district.

Colvin sees the area as a new way to revitalize the arts alongside small businesses in the city. Next to CANVASxDetroit you’ll find a few other arts initiatives including a car painting business, a textile business, and a few art galleries.

"The challenge is re-introducing the space as a retail destination," Colvin says. "It's sort of lost that."

But Colvin sees the arts supporting businesses along the way. As a business himself, he offers up an open community space for entrepreneurs. Colvin has worked with a local crowdfunding organization called EndlessCrowds to paint a mural in support of military and fire police for a campaign, and also helped launch a local fashion blog out of CANVASxDetroit. During such events, Colvin brings in local food vendors to support food entrepreneurs.

"Canvas Detroit has been able to help other small businesses by having a space here to talk about what they are doing," Colvin says.

CANVASxDetroit has created an innovative way to bring together small businesses and the arts, offering arts entertainment in Detroit.

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