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Thousands of Detroit veterans are unemployed, while hundreds more are homeless. It was a problem that 30-year-old Jarret Alan Schlaff had no interest in simply complaining about — he wanted solutions.

Beach Women Hobo Bag Tapestry HOBO Flowers Top Zip Signare Shoulder POP Poppy In January 2015, with the help of veterans and community members, Schlaff co-founded Pingree Detroit, a brand that offers tote bags and journals made from hemp and upcycled auto industry leather.

The brand employs three full-time veterans who work out of a Woodward Avenue workshop/training space. On average, the team handcrafts three to five tote bags a day using mostly donated equipment. Pingree Detroit will soon add unisex footwear to its product lineup.

After a year of working with Pingree Detroit, the veterans are invited to be co-owners of the brand with Schlaff.

Zip Poppy Shoulder Bag Top Hobo Tapestry Women Flowers Beach HOBO Signare POP “We think that having everyone share in the success of our company is a powerful way to create ownership on every level imaginable,” he says.

The name pays homage to Hazen Pingree, a shoemaker who became Detroit’s mayor then Michigan’s governor. Schlaff says Pingree embodied the idea of service leadership and a commitment to community that he hopes to reflect.

For more information, visit pingreedetroit.com

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