Today, I sat down with two great female entrepreneurs and fellow Detroiters Mary-Ann Mangano and Krystal Langford. Mary-Ann is launching a Pop UP Shop in downtown Detroit at her loft on Brooklyn street and is also well versed in the theatrical scene by way of doing producer work and some styling. Krystal owns Pearls and Lace, a vintage lingerie boutique. Both women are really good thrifters and without further ado …this is what we got into
Christopher Sean: Hello Ladies
Krystal: Hello There!
Christopher Sean (to Mary-Ann): So, I hear that you’ve spent some time in London. How was it getting back into the swing of things in Detroit?
Mary-Ann: When I came back from London, I didn’t know what to do. The Art venues here, if they had a job opening, it was in IT or something. So, I felt really lost and didn’t know what to do. And she said (Krystal) she’s known me since I was 14.. So we’ve been like thrifting for fun, for our own enjoyment since like the mid 90s. We were pretty hard core into it, you know. Without sounding like a vein jerk, I’m pretty talented. Like I’m a good shopper when it comes to thrift stores. So Krystal goes Mary-Ann, have you ever thought about working in the film industry? I think you’d be a good wardrobe assistant. I know your skills and think you’ll do well in it. With that, she asked me to be her wardrobe assistant on a feature film she was working on. It was great for me because I was transitioning back from London and it was a British director and some British actors. And so I was working on my first film as a wardrobe assistant. Right after that, we styled a photo shoot for Marley headphones with Trey Burke. We styled Trey Burke and I was an assistant on that too. Since then, I said, I wanna get involved in film and understand it from all departments. I kinda just fell into locations. I was locations manager on Destined (A movie filmed in Detroit) and that wrapped in early December. So now, that I have a better understanding ..I would like to get into producing, you know, eventually. But, I’ve only been in the industry for a little bit over a year so we’ll see where it goes.
Christopher Sean (to Mary-Ann): Ok, so what excites you about Detroit? Instead of New York? Instead of LA? instead of Chicago? I mean, hell, why here?
Mary-Ann: Well, I’m going to tell the truth. So, I’m from Michigan. I moved away for a little over a decade and I …I lost my visa while living in London. And so, I decided to come back to Detroit because this is where my family lives. I wasn’t expecting to move back and I found myself back here and had to rediscover the place, you know from scratch, basically. It was very different from when I left in 2003. Since I’ve been back, it took a little minute to get involved and realize but I find it to be a really inspiring place. And I find it a place that is unlike London, unlike New York in that you can do things here and you can really make a larger impact. So, if you want to get involved it’s relatively easy to and to do your own projects, create things. It will not be as unnoticed as it would be in London. If I wanted to start a Pop Up Shop in London, everybody’s doing it there and who’s to say unless you have a great network that people are gonna come. Or that it’ll be successful. It might be, but in Detroit, I feel like it’s just right for fresh ideas for people actually doing things.
Christopher Sean: That’s beautiful, an amazing way of putting it. What’s the biggest impact that you want to have on our Culture?
Mary-Ann: Our culture in Detroit?
Christopher Sean: Yeah. What do you want to give to it and say, yeah I did that? Or what do you want people to take away from leaving your Pop Up Shop or anything your associated with?
Mary-Ann: From me personally, I don’t know. But from Detroit, like why basing things in Detroit well, I recently got my Italian citizenship so, I could leave. And I could go back to Europe if I wanted to. But the shocking thing for me, and I didn’t think I’d say this a year and a half ago is that I think I want to stay. You know, at least for a little longer, to do my projects here because I could go back to London right now, but I’d rather stay in Detroit and do them. Detroit leaves you with a certain kind of feeling. I think only if you are here and you are involved and you meet all the creative types here you start to see it. But it’s not very surface level. I think all too often, people come to the city and they see the surface level. It depends on who you know and where they tell you to go. And so in a weekend, you can have the best weekend. You know like the best 3 days or you can have really mundane experience and then go away thinking, oh, Detroit. I have a lot of actors that will come into town from LA, and they’ll say, “You well, ya know… Detroit” and they’re anxious to get back to LA. But if they have somebody, and this has happened to me several times where they’re like “Mary-Ann” show this person around. You know, show em what’s good, some of the interesting things. Once you show them, they Love it. I’ve had people come here from Berlin or wherever and just wanted to move here after the three days that u spent with them. I took them to the Slow Roll, introduced them to people. They were on the Yellow Wall and all these things. They left here really Loving it and they had this special feeling from it. And I think that’s what I want people to go away from .. I don’t knew if a Pop Up Shop is going to convey that but I just want people to know that there’s interesting things happening here because there’s interesting people here. It’s not just like this desolate place, you know, that it may appear to be on a surface level.
Christopher Sean: Very beautifully put. Ok Krystal, what about you? What excites you about Detroit?
Krystal: I’ve always been team Detroit. Even from growing up in the westside, a working class family, I’ve always just felt like I’ve always had that Detroit pride. Even when times were bad, well, their still not as good as they’re going to be but I always root for the underdog. That’s just me. I feel like it’s not just set out for you. It’s not like big lights, bright city and you just come here and whisk into this whirlwind, like, anybody can do that. It takes somebody with a real culture within themselves, wanting to seek that and then coming here and finding things that they like about it. Like Mary-Ann said, you can come and have a bad experience or you can have a really great experience. I find that when I’m really trying to pay attention to what’s going on sometimes I have to sit nights out or sit days out. There’s too much to do. There’s too much going on, a wealth of opportunities and I just need to sit down because my heads spinning (laughs).
Mary-Ann: We were at Perimeter Sound in the West Village on Sunday and both of us said to each other, like, it’s funny cause Detroit has this thing where ..I mean I’m not huge into any cool scene or club scene or anything like that but you know on off days of the week, in London there’s always things going on. But on Sunday nights and Monday nights, I’ve had the most fun in Detroit. And I would rather go to these parties than I would go to something happening at a bar, I don’t know, in another city.
Krystal: Its genuine. It’s not put on. It’s like people who really enjoy what’s happening at moment coming there. You’re not going there to be like who’s who and everybody’s gonna be there. We do have events like that take place but this stuff is like “I Love this DJ, and I’m going there” and it’s a house basically and everybody’s in the living room jumping around because they Love this DJ who just at the last minute, at the drop of a dime, just decided to come and do a show. And like all these people showed up.
Mary-Ann: Yeah. And the Art scene in Detroit is incredibly genuine. My friend is from Texas but he’s a British citizen now, he came here to visit me and he just commented on how incredibly friendly Detroiters are across the board, when you’re walking down the street. People will spark up a conversation with you or ask you what you’re doing much more frequently than they would in a larger city. So, there’s this kind of genuine feeling that you get from people here. The art scene when you go other places can seem pretentious. I mean I worked in a gallery in New York in fine arts history when I was younger and here the Art scene is so, I don’t know, it’s something special. And it’s growing, like it’s really growing.
Krystal: It’s accessible. You don’t have to feel left out. You don’t have to be a million dollar collector to be able to go and enjoy a nice gallery opening and associate with people who are artists or collectors or whatever. It’s like, you know, everybody’s welcome.
Christopher Sean: How do we feel about the state of fashion or style in Detroit, currently? What do think you can do to change it or, yeah what are your thoughts?
Krystal: Honestly, I know a lot of people who are, in my opinion quite stylish. I don’t think that it’s portrayed on a wide scale to everyone else you know, in the United States, in the world or whatever. People think that Detroit is just furs and Carty’s and Gucci loafers. And there is that, you know what I mean (laughs) but there are people here that I can take anywhere, who can go to Paris or New York or to Miami and they’d be show stopping. You know what I mean, and not because they have a lot of money and buy these really expensive pieces but because they really know how to dress. And they know how to wear things that people will admire. I would like to be a part of portraying that more to the world. When people see me, they don’t think I’m from Detroit. People in Detroit don’t think I’m from Detroit. And I’m Detroit! Like, from the rootie to the tootie (laughs) you know what I mean ha ha ha.
Mary-Ann: Said the girl with the police hat on (laughs)
Krystal: Like, you know I’m DPS (Detroit Public Schools), I never lived in a suburb of Detroit. I always lived in the city. This is the Detroit snob in me but I get offended when people say that they’re from Detroit and they’re not actually from Detroit. Or they say they live in Detroit and don’t actually live in Detroit. You know what I mean, you say that to people to give them an idea. For instance, if you say you’re like from Sterling Heights, people (Not from here) won’t know what the hell you’re talking about so I understand that. But when you’re like “Oh yeah, I live in Detroit, I live in Lansing.” No, you don’t live in Detroit. It’s like STOP! (Laughs hysterically) you don’t know anything about Detroit. You don’t know anything about the people. You don’t know anything about the culture. You don’t know anything about anything. You come to Detroit when there’s a Tigers game and that’s it. Don’t do that.
Christopher Sean: And that’s funny because when you go anyplace in the world they attribute all those cities to “Metropolitan Detroit”. You may know about Ann Arbor because of Michigan or Lansing because it’s the capital but other than that the outside perspective leans towards “Metropolitan Detroit”
Krystal: This is how it’s goes, they’ll go “Where are you from?” And you go “I’m from Detroit” and they go “What part?” And you’re like “Detroit lol what do you mean what part?”And they go “well, I have a friend from West Bloomfield” and you’re like ohh ok ..nice…lol
Christopher Sean: Krystal, what’s one word that describes your personal style?
Krystal: Ummmm all inclusive (laughs)
Mary-Ann: That’s true. (laughs)
Krystal: I go all over. I don’t know if that’s just the Gemini in me. I like to do androgynous looks sometimes. I like to be super sexy sometimes. I like to be librarian looking sometimes. It’s just depends. I’ll take pieces and buy them and compartmentalize them in that way. And depending on how I feel, it’s like ok I wanna exude you know (laughs) 1990 hip hop artist or I wanna exude Alexis Carrington. I mean it’s just all over the place.
Christopher Sean: Mary Describe…
Christopher Sean: “First of all I’m Marry-Ann and Secondly” (all parties laughing hysterically)
Mary-Ann: hahaha what was that, the question?
Christopher Sean: Describe your personal style for me in one word…
Mary-Ann: I don’t like these one words or favorite questions but I’d like to think of myself as androgynous. It’s classic, clean, minimal but I’m also into ah (laughs) early 90s hip hop fashion. I like Cross Colours. I was wearing it in ’92. Still like it to this day. Yeah, I mean I like a lot of 90s things but I really like minimal, classic, androgynous and then mixed in with maybe a little hint of vintage. If I’m gonna do patterns, it’ll be as if a pattern just threw up on me different patterns, just all sorts of patterns (laughs) if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it all the way. I like to mix lots of weird, really eclectic things.
Christopher Sean: ok, Mary-Ann,what’s your biggest inspiration for doing what you do?
Mary-Ann: I feel like Detroit’s fashion culture and I want to be careful when I say that because I’m not …this is not about what I’m trying to do at least. It’s not about necessarily, totally looking sexy. Even though I want people to feel good about themselves. It’s not about pouting. It’s about finding clothes that are fun and I think that the fashion scene is Detroit is very small. A lot smaller than what I’m used to. People who are doing things here are doing really good things. I think Thrift On The Ave is a good store. I like what they’re doing in the events that they have. This guy Dee that I met, I met him through the film actually, he does WALK. The people that are involved in fashion here, I like what they’re doing. Randall is another vendor, Randall Jacobs, he’s going to be vending here as well on Saturday. He’s a great designer.He has a store front in Eastern Market. I just want people to come and find nice pieces, have a fun day out where they can do something a little different on a Saturday. I’d like for more people to start getting involved and having more things to go to involving fashion. You know like with Krystal, I was telling her that when I moved back here I felt like when I was wearing the clothes like my wardrobe that I spent all this money to ship back to Michigan I’d wear my outfits, the outfits that I’d wear in London and people here would say where are you going? You look so fancy like you have a special occasion to go to. So I stupidly started dressing down and was like ok maybe this is for a special occasion in Michigan, I’m not gonna say Detroit but in Michigan.
Christopher Sean: When did you get the epiphany that you had dropped the ball?
Mary-Ann: Well, I just got tired of wearing jeans and sweat pants. Though I do enjoy wearing jeans and sweat pants sometimes, I just thought forget about it. Im just going to… I actually started this when I started doing the slow roll, I started wearing skirts and onesies and my weird hats. I have a great hat collection. So, I just think that if you enjoy fashion no matter where you’re at, you should really indulge in it. And I think more people need to do that in Detroit. There’s some people here who are fabulous. I just think I’d more events, you know more fun activities to do around fashion.
Christopher Sean: Krystal, what’s the inspiration behind your company and doing what you do?
Krystal: One day I just fell in Love with all things vintage as far as fashion. But I was following someone on Instagram, a vintage dealer and I just really fell in Love with vintage lingerie. I don’t know what happened, it was just really pretty to me. It’s funny because now that I think about it I did have an affinity for lingerie when I was little. I remember looking in the Victoria Secret catalogs that would come to the house and being like “I wanna wear this when I grow up, I wanna wear this when I grow up and when I grow up I’m gonna wear this” So, I grew up and I still liked the things that I liked then (laughs)
Christopher Sean: Its funny you say that, those same Victoria Secret catalogs used to come in the mail for my mom and I would go “I wanna date her when I grow up, I wanna date her when I grow up and I’m gonna date her when I grow up” (laughs from everyone)
Krystal: I just feel like there’s a lot of great lingerie out now you know, everybody can go shop at Victoria Secret, but not everybody’s wealthy enough to shop at some of the more expensive lines like La Perla and Agent Provocateur. We wish we could shop there. I mean would still shop in vintage and there if I had the means. But, I think you can still hone that Hollywood glamour without having to spend thousands of dollars on lingerie. There are a lot of dealers that sale their pieces for really expensive prices cause some of the lines are no longer in production and so you can find things from the early 1900s ..20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and they will cost you a pretty penny but I don’t sale my stuff for that expensive because I want people to be able to buy it and then wear it and enjoy it.
Christopher Sean: To that end, how do you feel that “sexy” and “woman” coincide and where do you find yourself within those two motifs?
Krystal: How do sexy and woman coincide. I think that sexy and woman are two different things. Two distinct things. But I think that as women we need to embody being sexy because it is…I mean mean can be sexy as well
Mary-Ann: Yes they can! (Sips tea)
Krystal: But I think that women have been labeled that more. We’re more so the poster child of sexy if we had to go between the sexes, you know what I mean (laughs) I feel like being sexy and feeling sexy is tied with confidence. I feel like it gives you confidence and it empowers you in some way. You can feel sexy. So for example, I can go to work and I can have a suit on or whatever I’m wearing to work but underneath I feel like if you wore bloomers to work that day or if you wore like something lacy and something really like ..you know that you look good in, you may act different that day. I really believe that. When your bra and panties match you have a different attitude. And nobody even knows what you have on underneath but I just feel like you stand up straighter. You’re more confident and you really just embody those qualities more. That’s just my own little spiel.
Christopher Sean: Mary-Ann, do you wanna piggy back off of that?
Mary-Ann: I think it’s solely based on sexy for me. It doesn’t go hand in hand with being a woman. Lots of men are very sexy. I think it’s just about confidence for anybody. And so if you feel confident you most likely feel sexy. Confidence is the key to being successful in anything.
Christopher Sean: Any closing remarks or cool words you gals wanna leave me with?
Mary-Ann: I wanna leave you with a plug for my blog that I’m starting.
Christopher Sean: of course lol
Mary-Ann: (laughs) I’m gonna launch a blog in the next couple of weeks and it’s called Detroit Wealth. It’s kind of a funny little name because it has nothing to do with monetary value. And I think thats the last thing people associate Detroit with is any kind of wealth but I do feel that the city is absolutely rich in people and culture and the arts and it’s growing. I wanna show people that in a way that means something to me. So, I’m starting a fashion blog. Hopefully, it’s not your typical fashion blog. I’m not going to be pouting and taking pictures of myself over and over again (laughs) if you want that you can go to my normal Instagram. But it’s basically gonna be a fashion blog with elements of lifestyle added in. I want to focus on either a weekly or monthly theme, haven’t figured it out yet. The themes are going to be specific to Detroit. It’s about your environment and your perception of that environment and how you derive information from your surroundings. I’m going to incorporate whatever I’m inspired by, the places in Detroit that inspire. I’m going to style some outfits and get some women into it that are doing some things in the city. You don’t necessarily have to be a model, aspiring model or actress or actor because I will have men in the blog as well. I just want interesting people with an interesting personality. I think a lot of people are focusing on people doing positive things in the city. That makes me really happy. But I want to do it in a way that sources where I get my inspiration from and a lot of the time it’s just driving around the city. I know we’re surrounded by a lot of ruins, a lot of dilapidated burnt up places. Just from being in the film industry, I don’t like when people come here and solely focus on the ruins. I also don’t like it when people are chastised for filming or photographing the ruins as well because it is kind of apart of the daily life here. So I think one extreme is bad, yes but I think you kind of have to bridge the gap. Detroit is not just the few miles that are Downtown. That’s not a fair representation of the city. Neither is just focusing on all the blight. So, if you can marry the two and find a happy balance and derive inspiration from that and somehow funnel that into the arts and create something nice out of that. That’s what I wanna do with my blog. So, look forward to Detroit Wealth. Krystal will be in it as well.
Christopher Sean: Ok, Krystal, any closing remarks?
Krystal: So, for vintage lingerie go to pearls and lace. (@pearlsandlace) on Instagram. I did have a blog called LeFab Detroit and I feel like it’s making a resurgence ..I kind of like put it down because things just not working out how I wanted them to at that time but as of today and the people I’ve been hanging out with and talking to you guys, I feel like the creative side of me is going to be able to sustain itself. It will be able to show itself again so I’m going to be using that more. But that about it (laughs)
Mary-Ann: Also, with the Pop Up Shop, this is our first time doing it and we have 3 vendors and it’s in my loft. This loft has been used and filmed and been in a music video recently (laughs). And so now it’s gonna be a Pop Up Shop. I Love my loft, I feel lucky to live here. Though the outside of the building is really scary but don’t let that put you off everybody! So, if it’s successful and we get a good turnout I’d like to do the Pop Up Shop once a month. I’d be open to new vendors coming here and having a little space. I just want it to be fun. The purpose of it is to have a fun space where people can come together, have a good time in the afternoon that doesn’t necessarily have to involve getting drunk or whatever, ya know. It’s just about meeting new people and having a good time out in the city. But we will be serving things on a donation base so we’ll have some wine and coffee and tea on offer for a small donation. I hope everyone comes everyone’s welcomed! And Myron, the Yellow Wall man, a great photographer, we’ve done a little photo shoot to help promote and advertise and get the message out about this little Pop Up Shop so that it can take place once a month and those pictures will be on Instagram in the next 24hours.
Christopher Sean: *In British Accent* Alright ladies, it’s been a pleasure. They can’t see me shaking yours hands (laughs) but I’m doing it, I’m doing it.
Mary-Ann and Krystal: (laughs) Thankyou.