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Motor City Match recipient Crème Brûlée opens in Milwaukee Junction; breaks down racial barriers in beauty industry

Jul 8, 2021

  • First luxury salon to welcome multicultural clients in Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood
  • Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) helping more Detroit businesses open in 2021; 122 brick-and-mortars opened since Motor City Match began
  • Motor City Match (MCM) Round 14 space awardee; Round 17 $40,000 cash grant awardee 
  • Upscale multicultural salon among several Detroit resident, woman and minority-owned businesses receiving support from MCM, City of Detroit, DEGC

DETROIT – Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield, Detroit City Councilmember at Large Janee Ayers, and DEGC Executive Vice President Small Business Services Pierre Batton joined Katrina Wilson, owner of Crème Brûlée, to celebrate the grand opening of the premier multicultural salon today.

“Katrina created Creme Brûlée to be a place for everyone, which is exactly the city we are trying to build,” said Batton. “This Motor City Match business is a wonderful addition to the growing commercial district and is an asset to our city. We are proud of Katrina for going after her dream and grateful she chose Detroit to open her first brick and mortar business.”

Born and raised in Detroit, Wilson entered cosmetology at age 13, became fully licensed at 16, and has dreamt of owning her own salon. Since founding the Crème Brûlée brand in 2018, Wilson has worked as an independent celebrity stylist offering services for award shows, photoshoots and other high-profile client appearances. Located at 6406 Woodward Ave., Crème Brûlée is her first brick-and-mortar location. She’s already planning to open a beauty school that trains stylists to service all types of clients.

“While many salons are segregated based on hair texture, ethnicity, gender and race, Crème Brûlée was founded with a passion for diversity and inclusion,” said Wilson. “I realized the need for an accessible salon like Crème Brûlée when my friends and I were planning a pampering night out but couldn’t find a salon that did hair for different ethnicities under one roof. Crème Brûlée aims to end segregation within the beauty industry by welcoming all clients.”

The 2,000 sq.-ft., multicultural salon will offer hair, nail and skin services as well as beauty products, celebrity and VIP rooms, bookings for bridal parties and other events, and premium cocktails to help clients relax and unwind. Wilson plans to have a total of 18 employees that represent diverse backgrounds and is still seeking a stylist, nail technician and barber.

Wilson received support from a number of organizations including MCM, Midtown Detroit Inc., Michigan Women Forward, First Home Bank, Capital Impact Partners, TechTown Detroit and PCI One Source Contracting.

“We are pleased to be one of several partners in Detroit’s rich small business ecosystem supporting Ms. Wilson’s launch of Crème Brûlée,” said Amy Rencher, Tech Town Detroit managing director, entrepreneurial programs and services. “Ms. Wilson’s hard work, tenacity and vision are indicative of the spirit of thousands of Detroit entrepreneurs served by TechTown each year. We are proud to celebrate her as a TechTown alumni and excited for Crème Brûlée to launch just a few blocks from our entrepreneurship hub.”

“Michigan Women Forward was one of the first organizations to financially back Katrina’s vision, and we’re honored she trusted us to help her bring Crème Brûlée to life,” said Alexis Dishman, chief lending officer for Michigan Women Forward. “Katrina’s success is a testament to her tenacity and willingness to take full advantage of MWF’s microloan program, Resilience Fund grants, and our technical assistance programs. Her vision aligns with Michigan Women Forward’s mission to help women and women of color to achieve equality and success. We’re elated to see Crème Brûlée open its doors!”

Located in the Platform’s Baltimore Station development in Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood, Wilson signed the lease for Crème Brûlée in 2019 just before the outbreak of COVID-19. She named the salon Crème Brûlée because like the dessert, her recipe for success is taking simple ingredients and elevating them with special tools. Like the decadent delight, Wilson said she has a hard outer shell, but is soft and fluffy inside.

“Crème Brûlée shows the lengths Detroiters will take to chase their dreams,” said Sheffield. “Despite the obstacles and hardships she’s faced, Katrina has continued to make her dream a reality. She’s not just providing beauty services; she’s breaking down barriers within her industry and providing Detroiters with a safe and welcoming space.”

Wilson said she thanks MCM for providing access to funding and serving as a strategic partner to grow and develop Crème Brûlée. She received a MCM Round 14 space awardee and Round 17 cash grant awardee of $40,000. Crème Brûlée is located near several open MCM-supported businesses, including YumVillage Afro-Caribbean restaurant, Baobab Fare East African restaurant, The Kitchen, by Cooking with Que plant-based restaurant and Ferne Boutique women’s clothier.

Crème Brûlée is one of 122 open brick-and-mortar Motor City Match businesses that have received support from the program. Of those businesses, 81 percent are minority-owned, 71 percent are women-owned and 64 percent are owned by Detroit residents. The program continues to have a large and positive impact on Detroit’s small business community, including:

  • Roughly 19 more MCM businesses are expected to open in 2021
  • Around 1,000 jobs have been created as a result of open MCM businesses
  • $9.5M has been awarded in cash grants through MCM and Motor City Re-Store, which has leveraged $44.1M in additional investment into Detroit’s neighborhoods
  • Nearly 300 additional home-based and mobile businesses have started or expanded with the help of Motor City Match

“Motor City Match continues to have a tremendous impact on Detroit,” said Kevin Johnson, DEGC President and CEO. “More Detroiters are on a path to economic mobility, have been given a chance to pursue their passions, and have access to goods and services in their neighborhoods because of this program. Today, we are creating an even stronger MCM program to support Detroit’s small business community – the heartbeat of our City.”

Crème Brûlée will open July 18 and begins booking appointments online (cremebruleedetroit.com) or by phone (313-800-5335) July 11. The salon is open every day 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and offers no wait walk-in service.

About Motor City Match

Motor City Match is a unique partnership between the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Competitive financial assistance is supported by a broad partnership of Southeast Michigan community development financial institutions and corporations. Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is a non-profit organization that serves as the lead implementing agency for business retention, attraction and economic development initiatives in Detroit.

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