Ask the Expert: Branding and Design for Your Business Build-Out

It’s important to have good team members around you. (Architects and designers) can save you money because of what we know. – Bryan Cook

In this online panel discussion and presentation, branding experts, architects and designers answer business owners’ pressing questions about designing, building out and refreshing their commercial spaces.

Business owners with existing space and those who are in the planning stages pose questions to our panel of experts:

Meaghan Barry, partner and creative director – Unsold Studio (and recently named one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ Notable Women of Design): “With our clients, we talk about a priority list and a wish list. We identify what is the priority – what will make the most impact.”

Naomi Beasley-Porter, architectural designer – NSPIRD Design Studio: “(Designers) can work together to create a style guide so there are minimum standards in place. It pertains to finishes and quality, so the design is consistent throughout.”

Bryan Cook, registered architect – Berardi Partners: “It’s important to have good team members around you. (Architects and designers) can save you money because of what we know.”

Kenneth Crutcher, registered architect – Crutcher Studio: “If you have a budget, we can work with it, but you have to be upfront and honest about what that budget is.”

These experts have designed some of the best known small commercial businesses in Detroit. Watch to get helpful advice and tips before you build.

This program was featured as a 2020 Detroit Month of Design event with Design Core Detroit.

Welcome New Members!

We’re excited about the new members to our community! Where available, please click on the link at their business name to get more info on how they are creating, innovating and building in Detroit and beyond.

Ray Batra
Shift_Up is a “Learning Gym” that blends the best flexible online courses with professional coaching and community to offer effective and affordable solutions to upgrade your skills—virtually, or in-person.

LJ Golden Realty
Ronita Coleman

Detroit Delivers
Karen Thornton

Phillips Spic & Span Cleaning Service
Lethaniel Phillips & Terry Phillips

Blue Horizon Construction
Kalaya Long

iBartend | V&J Management Group
Veronique Fariala
iBartend is a fun an exclusive “Shake and Sip” bartending class perfect for small groups, celebrations, date night and overall liquor knowledge.

A Bridge of Hope Foundation
Bridgette Schuler

A|Squared Legal Group, PLC
Alari K. Adams

Work Space Spark
Dorethia Kelly

Amesite
Madison Bush

Meet more of our SpaceLab community here.

In Response to Current Events

We are traumatized by the events of the past month. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in any circumstance would sadden us. The fact that they were killed by those who had been sworn to protect them and their communities compounds our grief and causes us to again revisit the injustices in the country we live and love.


We are frustrated and tired of the overt, covert and systematic racism that African Americans live with daily. We will use our platform to provide programming to explore ideas that promote positive change and equity in our communities. We must come together to make the places we live, and our entire country, better.

Karen A.D. Burton, Co-founder & CEO
Bobby Burton, Co-founder & COO

Detroit businesses share good news even during COVID-19 crisis

SpaceLab members are continuing to operate their businesses and serve their clients. Here’s some great news they’ve shared over the past weeks. We hope the good news motivates you to keep moving your business forward.

Member SDG Architects & Planners is architect for the Detroit City Council Committee of the Whole (COW) office renovation in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (CAYMC) – the first renovation of the area in over 40 years. SDG worked with LLP Construction Services on this Design-Build project. 

photo by LLP Construction Services

Izzie LLC has contracted with the City of Highland Park to disinfect and sanitize the city’s four main buildings: Police Headquarters, Fire Department, Robert B. Blackwell Municipal Building, and the Ernest T. For Recreation Center.

Black Girl MATHgic reached a milestone with founder Brittany A. Rhodes giving her first-ever presentation as a full-time “mathpreneur” at the Mid School Math Conference in Santa Fe, NM, the largest middle school mathematics conference in the nation, in early March.

New members LottMetz Crutcher Architecture – a partnership of Grand Rapids-based Lott3Metz Architecture LLC and metro Detroit’s Crutcher Studio, Inc. – came together to propose larger developments in Southeast Michigan and plan to “positively contribute to Detroit’s urban revolution.” Read more on MiBiz >>>

Karen Burton, along with Saundra Little, AIA, spent time with Melissa R. Daniel on her podcast Architecture is Political. The conversation focused on architecture, their Noir Design Parti project, Detroit and entrepreneurship. Listen here >>>

Limited Access at SpaceLab during COVID-19 health crisis includes Mail Processing

SpaceLab logo

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (MI) issued a Stay Home, Stay Safe order for all non-essential businesses that took effect, Tuesday, March 24 at 12:01 a.m. It will be in place for at least three (3) weeks in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

SpaceLab is currently closed for most business activity. However, as a postal agent, we will continue to process mail from the downtown location. We ask all Virtual/Mail customers to schedule mail pickup between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 313-379-7000 or email info@spacelabdetroit.com to schedule.

As always, Members with a keycard or keyfob still have access at both downtown and Seven Mile Road locations should you need to retrieve something. Use your best judgement when entering the space, as regular daily cleaning activity has ceased. Cleaning products and hand sanitizer are still in the space for your use.

There should not be any meetings or gatherings taking place at the downtown or Seven Mile locations.

Additionally, Day Passes have been suspended at both locations until further notice.

As current events and messaging about COVID-19 evolve, we continue to monitor and implement recommendations by government and health officials. We understand how difficult this time is as you continue to operate your business. Please email Bobby or me if you need assistance in any way, and we will do our best to help. See our Support Resources and Events pages for more information.

Karen A.D. Burton

Co-founder and CEO

SpaceLab Detroit

Apply for SpaceLab’s Saturday Market, part of the Detroit Black Business Crawl

Saturday, Feb. 22 is the Detroit Black Business Crawl! SpaceLab Detroit is sharing our space with makers, creators and vendors to showcase creative, unique home accessories, clothing, and gifts in our 9th floor event space. Interested food vendors, email karenb@spacelabdetroit.com.

Market hours: 10 AM – 5 PM.

Apply today! Vendors will be will be notified by email or phone call.

We’ll also have free open coworking. Reserve your seat, and bring your ticket. Drop in at a desk, the work bar or work café to work for the day, and network and collaborate with Detroit’s urban innovators, professionals and entrepreneurs.

Historian and diversity and inclusion advocate Karen Burton introduces audiences to Detroit’s Black architects

SpaceLab’s co-founder and CEO Karen Burton is an educator, historian, and diversity and inclusion advocate in the architecture and construction industry. Along with her colleague Saundra Little, AIA, NOMA, she founded Noir Design Parti, a Knight Arts Challenge winning project that chronicles the projects and career journeys of Michigan’s African American Architects. On Feb. 17, an interview with Karen will air on Michigan Radio where she will introduce listeners to Donald White, AIA, the first Black graduate of the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture and Michigan’s and Alabama’s first licensed Black architect.

Karen and Saundra will discuss the role of Black architects in Detroit’s design history to students in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) on Feb. 15, and on Feb. 21 at 5:30 PM, they’ll lead a panel discussion with five of Detroit’s leading architects at The University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture.

Karen will also be a panelist on the topic “Revitalizing ‘Main Street'” at the 10th Annual Detroit Impact Conference, the flagship event of the Detroit Revitalization and Business (DR&B) Club at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Members pen books on business, real estate and design

SpaceLab members and collaborators have a wealth of experience in their fields. Here are books that have been authored by our business and built environment leaders. They can all be purchased on Amazon.com.

Conversations with the Team that Creates the Dream: Top Female Professionals Who Can Help You Get Wealthy in Real Estate. Deba Harper, contributor.

Crowley’s: Detroit’s Friendly Store by Bruce Allen Kopytek.

Jacobson’s: I Miss It So! by Bruce Allen Kopytek.

Proving Ground: A Memoir by W. David Tarver.

Life, Liberty N’ Property: A Guide to Successful Real Estate Investing by John Delia. On Amazon

Swint Logistics Meets Demand for Construction Trucking

SpaceLab welcomes Swint Logistics Group, Inc., owned by Cherri Harris, to our community. Swint Logistics is a hauling firm with Domestic and Canadian authority. Services include dispatching, logistics consulting, driver recruiting, and as well as infrastructure consulting services directly related to sewers. The company is a Compliance Specialist.

Cherri spent 15 years as a commercial truck driver. She began her business by running five tractor-trailers for fixed-route deliveries. In 2018, she started a training program for operating gravel dump trucks and then created training programs for long-established road-building companies. Swint was recently hired to create a pre-apprenticeship program for heavy construction trucking for its unionized employees.

Swint Logistics was named a PTAC Best Small Business Honoree at the 2019 Michigan Celebrates Small Business Awards sponsored in part by the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MSBDC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Read more about Cherri’s journey in growing Swint Logistics on Crain’s Detroit Business .

SpaceLab Welcomes Non-Profit Consultant Orletta Caldwell

Orletta Caldwell has hosted workshops at SpaceLab, and now she’s a member. After attending the opening of the 7Mile location, Orletta decided to align her business with our coworking community.

Through her company, Beyond Existing Enterprises, LLC (BEE), Orletta assures that her clients – no matter the size – can build sustainable organizations.  Her approach is to empower the team.

BEE addresses the capacity building needs of nonprofit and faith-based organizations. Services include grant writing, nonprofit start-up filings, strategic planning, capacity building, board development, coalition building, and financial services. Services to for-profits businesses are also available.

Beyond Existing Enterprises logo

Orletta starts with a comprehensive consultation that helps identify gaps and opportunities and delivers a comprehensive report that includes a project plan with timelines and milestones, a cost analysis, and a schedule. BEE also offers a suite of quality products that will help you reach your goals quickly and smoothly. That’s one way the consultancy ensures your success.