In 2011, Shinola, a luxury watch, leather and bike shop, opened in Midtown on a mission to bring back American craftsmanship and manufacturing to Detroit. Shinola produces handmade watches that sell for between $600-$1000 and hand-built bicycles that sell for about $1000. In addition to bikes, leather goods, and watches, Shinola produces a wide variety of other products including footballs, flags, clothing, blankets, and desk pieces. They are a vertically integrated business that takes as much pride in its retail store as it does its factories.

shinolaShinola doesn’t just talk about bringing manufacturing back to Detroit. They’ve built two factories in the College for Creative Studies—one 30,000 square foot watch factory and one 12,000 square foot leather factory. In addition, 90% of its 320 employees are Detroiters, and many are former automobile plant workers.

Its upscale and luxurious products and storefront have managed to attract customers despite Detroit’s economic struggles. Shinola’s incredible success can be attributed the quality of its products and its dedication to the community of Detroit.

Shinola takes pride in its design and craftsmanship and views its price tag as a great value compared to competitors. Shinola watches are built to last a lifetime.  They’ve found that people are willing to pay more for authentic, quality goods made in Detroit by Detroiters. Shinola has bought into the idea that people love products made locally by the community, and its success has proven them to be right.

Last year, Shinola produced 50,000 watches and sold all of them. In their first six months, they achieved 20 million dollars in sales and expect in the next three years to hit 100 million in revenue. They’ve gone from three employees in 2011 when they started to currently employing 320 — mostly Detroiters. Shinola’s growth has been exponential and they plan on opening eight more stores in the next five years. They plan on ramping up production, adding more categories of products, and continuing the same processes that have led to its incredible success. That means continuing to build authentic pieces with only the most quality components and hand assembled by only the most skilled craftspeople.  Shinola has revived a storied American brand and is on a mission to revive the industry that made Detroit great.

Wesley Zhu

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