Sunday, December 5, 2010


Having grown up in the Rust Belt, I've seen friends and family buy livable houses in safe neighborhoods for pennies on the dollar one would pay in Chicago, Bay Area, or the Northeast Corridor. In places like the Ohio Valley, or around Pittsburgh, there are old commercial and industrial buildings sitting abandoned, some of which could be acquired for the cost of just transferring the deed from a grateful owner. A wealth of opportunities for low overhead lay out there in the places most people would prefer to ignore. I really enjoyed this story about a maker who became self-sufficient by setting up shop in Detroit. Here's the statement from her website about her products:

Cyberoptix Tie Lab founder Bethany Shorb has applied her experience as a sculptor, couture, costume and graphic designer to transform a much maligned business necessity into a subversive object of desire with her witty hand printed neckwear. Cyberoptix ties and scarves are represented by more than 200 stores in a dozen countries: from Fred Segal in Los Angeles to Libertine in Western Australia. A paradox for the times, Cyberoptix Tie Lab operates one of the largest eco-friendly, solvent-free print shops in the country right in Detroit while providing a seditious, punky fashion statement for executives bound to the neck noose, and a sharply styled alternative for those who don't need to wear a tie, but chose to do so. 

Her products are definitely cool - I've seen them in numerous boutiques in Chicago - but I'm curious to know if she's 100% self-sufficient on just sales of the Cyberoptix products. Bethany also apparently supplements her income with a side-career as a notable costume designer and musician.

Another thought comes to mind, which is a personal criteria I actually developed in one of these Rust Belt towns. I really like walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. In Chicago, one can find cheaper living or shop space, by simply heading into underserved or distant parts of town. Aside from the risk of crime, I don't want to go back to being tied to a car as a link to the rest of my life, and I also don't want to feel compelled to stay inside all the time, behind locked doors. I'm eager to hear what Bethany has to say about where she lives in Detroit, and if it affects her lifestyle. Stay tuned!

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