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Corktown's The Empowerment Plan turns clothing the homeless into growing biz

The Empowerment Plan started out as a school project at the College of Creative Studies and turned into product-and-design undergrad Veronika Scott's new business.

Scott, 22, thought her degree would lead her to a job in automotive or footwear design. But when a professor challenged her to think outside the box, she created a sleeping bag that doubles as a coat designed for homeless people.

"They said start thinking on designing to fill needs instead of following trends," Scott says. To her helping the homeless population represented an extreme, unmet need. It also led to a few words of wisdom from one of the first homeless people who tried the new product.

"She said, 'The coat doesn't matter,'" Scott says. "She said, 'We need jobs.'"

That led to turning the school project into a new business based in Corktown. The Empowerment Plan recently hired two local people to work as seamstresses and has a staff of four. That team produced 45 of the sleeping bag coats last year and 200 so far this year. Scott hopes to hit 800 by the end of the year.

"I would like to see us have six seamstresses," Scott says. "I'd like to see us distributing beyond Detroit. We have already started at the Tenderloin District on San Francisco and in Chicago."

Source: Veronika Scott, founder & CEO of The Empowerment Plan
Writer: Jon Zemke
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Related Company

  • The Empowerment Plan
    1401 Vermont St.
    Detroit, MI 48216 Website
    The Empowerment Plan is a humanitarian project based that centers around the Element S Coat, a self-heated, waterproof coat that transforms into a sleeping bag at night. It is a Detroit-based company.

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