DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroiter Tyler Wilkie has a marketing background and has always loved design. And like so many others with office jobs, he's been working from home during the pandemic.
Wilkie, who is originally from St. Johns, Mich., noticed many in his own community struggling during COVID; so he decided to turn a passion project into a way to give back.
“A couple of months ago I was driving down Jefferson and all of sudden, just “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you and the ‘look about you’ clicked," he said. "That’s it, that’s the brand.”
Wilkie is of course, referencing the Michigan state motto which translates to "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."
It's that ode to our state and a celebration of the Mackinaw Bridge that you'll notice first if you order one of Wilke's items online. But what you'll also be doing; is supporting a local non-profit organization.
Wilkie sells everything from t-shirts to hoodies, hats, and water bottles, and 50 percent of everything he makes will go to Focus: Hope.
The organization was founded in 1968 as a means to support the city's marginalized community and improve workforce access and job training. Since then, Focus: Hope has grown to also offer early childhood development programs and several additional food programs.
Because of COVID the demand for food programs, especially from seniors, has grown according to Focus: Hope's Rick Mazyck.
“We had a great increase in seniors who needed help, who reached out to us. Or family members reached out to us. They couldn't get to their family member early on in the first lock-down, but we could," Mazyck, who serves at Focus: Hope's volunteer engagement coordinator, told Action News.
“They just have a long history in the community and they have a great advisory board of members from the community that they know where this money needs to go better than I do," Wilkie said, referencing why he selected Focus: Hope to received a portion of his profits.
So Far, 'Look About You' has only generated enough revenue to donate $203 to Focus: Hope, but the clothing line just launched this month, and more money is expected to roll in.
The other 50 percent of Wilkie's proceeds he'll use to buy supplies. He has pretty low overhead, and is using a print-on-demand service to send people their products.
“It’s probably not going to be a money maker for me," Wilkie said.
For him, this project is more about getting creative while giving back. 'Look About You' is not just a celebration of our state, it's also a reminder to be present and practice mindfulness.
“That second meaning is just, stop for a second and pay attention to all of the great things that you have," Wilkie told Action News.
Wilkie has already designed special t-shirts for Pride with the logo 'Love About You,' and plans to continue to expand his line.
Mazyck told Action News because of the pandemic, they're in need of support like never before. Of Wilkie he says:
“I’m grateful for him as much as I’m grateful for his donations and I’ll think he’ll inspire a lot of people."
Focus: Hope is always looking for donations and volunteers. Click here to get involved.