ProsperUS grad gets $75K Motor City Match grant for her startup

January 12th, 2017
Teresa Singleton with Mayor Mike Duggan and Rodrick Miller, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation President and CEO, at the announcement of Motor City Match winners on January 10, 2017.

Teresa Singleton has seen much tragedy in her 53 years as a native Detroit resident, but her faith in the city remains indomitable and she is determined to contribute to its comeback.

That’s why she became a Detroit firefighter nearly 20 years ago. And it’s also why, during her off hours, she completed Southwest Solutions’ ProsperUS Detroit program three years ago so she could realize her dream of starting her own small business.

“ProsperUS enabled me to focus and refine my business plan and be better prepared for the opportunities and challenges ahead,” Teresa said.

Opportunities are certainly starting to come Teresa’s way. She is one of 15 aspiring entrepreneurs to receive cash grants in round six of Motor City Match, a program designed to help small businesses open or expand in Detroit.

The Motor City Match (MCM) announcement was made on January 10 at the former Third Precinct in southwest Detroit. This once-abandoned building was acquired, renovated and re-purposed by Southwest Solutions and now houses two local businesses.

Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Mike Duggan announced the winners at the special event. Teresa was last awardee called to the stage because her $75,000 grant was the largest one given out. The Mayor then asked her to say a few words, since she is the first three-time MCM recipient.

Teresa in front of the building on West Grand Boulevard that will house Tiki’s Treasures

Teresa in front of the building on West Grand Boulevard that will house Tiki’s Treasures

In earlier MCM rounds, Teresa was awarded technical assistance grants to help her with the building she purchased on West Grand Boulevard to locate her consignment boutique, called Tiki’s Treasures. The building is a former Adult Foster Care home, and it’s across the street from the Motown Museum. The first MCM award was for an environmental study. The second was for architectural plans. The latest grant, combined with the loans that Teresa expects to secure, will allow her to build out the space. She hopes to open Tiki’s Treasures in the early summer. The business will sell upscale fashion and other items on consignment at affordable prices. It will also house a bistro.

Teresa named her business “Tiki’s Treasures” to honor her father and the affectionate nickname he gave her.

“When I was a little girl, my dad’s favorite TV show was Adventures in Paradise, which was about the captain of a boat called the Tiki,” Teresa said. “He started calling me Tiki, and then everyone else in our family did so, too.”

Teresa’s father was murdered on September 9, 1998. It was his birthday and also the day after Teresa was confirmed as a firefighter. They held a party together at Teresa’s home to celebrate both occasions. After the leaving the party, her father’s car was struck by another car near Grand River and Outer Drive. The other driver then got out of his car and shot Teresa’s father six times.

“I think about my dad everyday and I know he is very proud of me for all my work as a firefighter and my new adventure in starting this business,” Teresa said.

Teresa is a senior fire engine operator and a former leader in the union. She is currently on disability leave after suffering an injury fighting a house fire on the east side last October. She is recovering well and hopes to be back at work in a few months. She will continue to work as a firefighter even when Tiki’s Treasures is operational, since firefighters work nine days a month in 24-hour shifts. To help with the business, she will hire some Detroit residents.

“I feel blessed about the good things happening with my business and I believe it will be an asset to the city and create opportunities for other Detroiters as well,” said Teresa.

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