Every entrepreneur has an origination story. For Yvonne Spampinato, it was about connecting people with unique pieces that tell stories about the past. She began collecting baubles beads and trinkets from a young age, inspired by her father, an artist and entrepreneur. “I have immense admiration for what he does. It requires so much focus, determination, and skill,” she said.
“When I was young, I was admiring a vintage brooch in my Dad’s boutique. I asked him if I could have it. He said, ‘maybe when you’re older.’ Well, Dad remembered and he kept it and gave it to me on my 16th birthday! That meant so much to me. This important memory also reminded me of the many times while buying vintage costume jewelry and going through old jewelry boxes that I would come across pieces and trinkets that people had held onto for nostalgic reasons or possibly with the intent to pass on to someone else. They KEPT it.”
For nearly a decade, Yvonne sold vintage costume jewelry, learning a lot about the history behind each piece, diving into trends and pricing, and building relationships with a dedicated clientele. The more she learned, the more she sought to bring her own creations to life. “My experience was the driving force that inspired me to create my own designs,” she said. In 2013, Yvonne started KEPT Jewelry, a sophisticated and affordable jewelry line that embodies the connections people have to the jewelry they love.
Supporting Local Entrepreneurs
As a small business owner, Yvonne understands the unique challenges faced by entrepreneurs – especially those without a storefront. For years, Yvonne researched and applied to present her designs at local events, craft shows and art fairs. It required a lot of networking to best understand which events would be a good fit for her brand. “It also takes a lot of energy and skill to be the face of your brand and business while providing friendly customer service in rapidly changing settings,” she added. Like many entrepreneurs, Yvonne lived and breathed her business. But she sorely wanted a retail space for KEPT. In the summer of 2021, Yvonne got her chance when she received an invite to apply for a unique opportunity in the heart of downtown Detroit.
Yvonne’s application was accepted, and KEPT became one of just 18 small businesses to participate in the Downtown Detroit Markets for the 2021 holiday season. Located in Cadillac Square, the “winter markets” have been a collaboration between Bedrock and the Rocket Community Fund focused on elevating public spaces while supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This highly-anticipated pop-up retail space provides small business owners the opportunity to test the market with their products inside a physical retail space – something many of the participating vendors lacked. Yvonne thoroughly appreciated the opportunity.
“I had an incredible experience at the Downtown Detroit Markets! Operating for such a long duration of time was a new experience for me and really gave me a feel for what it would be like operating year-round,” she said. “I was very impressed with all the attention to detail and presentation of the markets. The huts were thoughtfully and beautifully constructed. I’ll also add I was very grateful they were toasty, and my customers and I felt comfortable in an outdoor market during Michigan winter months,” she added.
Having her very own little store in a prime location was also great for business during the holiday season. “I was completely blown away by all the foot traffic. Despite a few nasty weather days over some of the weekends, the crowds were out and a diverse collection of shoppers seemed to come from everywhere, so clearly the word got out. Even on weekdays there was a decent lunch crowd.”
Perhaps the best part about Yvonne’s experience being a Downtown Detroit Markets vendor was the courage it gave her to take her business to the next level. A few months ago, she began to actively search for some form of retail space. As luck would have it, a space opened up in Ferndale’s iconic Rust Belt Market. Yvonne immediately jumped on the opportunity and has signed a yearlong lease. “If it hadn’t been for my experience at the Downtown Detroit Markets, I wouldn’t have had the confidence it takes to take on such a commitment. So I’m incredibly grateful for that,” she said.
Detroit is an entrepreneurial city, and we’re proud of the local business community we support. Yvonne best articulated this feeling when she spoke about KEPT. “It’s taken a lot of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and many long hours, but not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for doing what I love.”