DETROIT — Sally Moore’s belief in her power to “work magic” is unshakable.
As Moore faced challenges from law school, high-stakes litigation and competitive entrepreneurial competitions, as well as the destructive impact of breast cancer on her circle of support, the magic has always been with her.
Even in this time of uncertainty for many, due to a global pandemic that shows no signs of abating, Moore’s response is guided by her own magic, which in this case involves opening a new business in the city qu ‘she likes.
“Energy is going to flood the space and we’re going to watch what develops by having a collective group of individuals pulling in the same direction,” Moore said, four days before the grand opening of Parker Avenue in Rivertown, La only black woman -owned yarn store in the city of Detroit.
A practicing attorney for 25 years and a self-proclaimed student of the people for even longer, Moore added “business owner” to her resume for “positively impacting socio-economic and racial disparity” in Detroit. With a name that pays homage to Dorothy Parker – the famous writer, poet, editor, playwright and critic who was part of a notorious clique that met daily for lunch in New York during the Roaring Twenties – Moore’s boutique offers everything related to knitting and crochet and more. And it’s the “more” part of the equation that excites the store owner.
“I’m passionate about this company and what can happen when women from all walks of life who make fibers have a place to call home,” said Moore, who grew up in Palmer Woods and graduated from Cass Tech in 1985. “The pandemic has taught us that interaction is what makes us human and that shopping is about connection, just like the yarn we knit with – we touch it, feel it. When you bring people together around this common activity, they will see each other and have meaningful conversations about real things that matter most in their lives.
Moore further shares how a simple yarn can transform lives and enrich her town by telling a story about driving west on I-94 this summer. It was a route Moore had become accustomed to taking while checking out other yarn stores across the metropolis of Detroit. But that day, it was the conversation that was taking place in her vehicle between the women she adores (Dondi Roberts Parker, Joye Watts Mosley and Sharon, Moore’s sister) that caught her attention.
“Their love for knitting and support for the business brought them together, but in the car they would bond over their breast cancer treatment spectrum and laugh about things like chemo, diarrhea, vomiting and their breasts,” Moore recalled. “That openness and ability to get it all out showed me how much knitting and yarn has helped sustain an amazing, lifelong community for three of the most important people in my world. It’s so much bigger than twine, sewing and weaving – it’s human. And that’s why I have to, because other people need community.
Evidence of the community building that Moore was talking about was on Parker Avenue during the store’s first days of operation. Throughout the day on December 28, a colorful array of masks were worn by around 40 customers representing multiple generations and an even wider range of sizes. But more than their outward appearance and physical stature, it was the customers’ actions that spoke louder than words. Through the masks, there was no shortage of lively conversations and laughter, as well as gentle and spontaneous touches and hugs.
“It’s a gift from God,” said Detroiter Karin Massey Brock, who described her feelings about becoming the boutique’s first “Parker Purl,” a gifted boutique membership that offers a special t-shirt, anniversary discount, first dibs at limited-edition merchandise, and a “seat at the table” when store decisions are made. “I really believe in supporting Detroit, but definitely a black entrepreneur. And the store is easy to get to for me from the west side, and easy to get to for my 94-year-old mother; she’s my travel companion and she taught me all about knitting and she’s teaching me crochet.”
Massey Brock’s membership was bought by Mosley, who tried to keep his kind gesture a secret before Moore made it known because Moore did not want to take credit for himself. While the soft-spoken Mosley wanted to keep her generosity private, she had no problem talking about her hopes for Parker Avenue.
“We have some very talented and crafty people in the city, so hopefully people can come and share their talents with each other and know that any kind of fiber art is welcome,” Mosley said, graduated in 1984 from Cass Tech. . “And it’s not just knitting and crocheting; I know a lady who weaves, and I’m pretty sure she’s into macramé and stuff like that. We even try to bring in men. We just want it to be a wide range of people from different backgrounds who can come and express themselves with art.
Mosley’s words brought a smile to Jeane Moore (mother of Sally and Sharon) who was seated nearby. Near Jeane Moore were people dear to her, including two daughters and other members of St. John’s Presbyterian Church, such as her longtime friend Janice Howell. But Moore, 87, explained that in her own way, she also cast her eyes over the entire city of Detroit.
“I’m excited because Detroit is our home – born and raised here. And having this facility, Parker Avenue, in my city, for people, is great,” said Jeane Moore. “And now we have a way to bring together a lot of things that will uplift us all. I say feet to move and hands to lift and we will cross.
After saying her peace, which included explaining the historical and cultural ties to the yarn for black people, Moore exercised her motherly authority by summoning her daughter Sharon to speak. And the self-described “emotional member of the family” didn’t disappoint his mother when it came to candor.
“We say this often, but it’s true – representation matters,” said Sharon Moore, who, like her sister Sally, is also a lawyer. “It’s a really difficult thing when you walk into a store and people look at you like you don’t belong. It’s like, ‘Are you lost? Or are you here for a friend? And the thought never crossed their minds that you might be the person to actually commit to it. So having a representation is really important and it’s very important to have a venue that embraces that from the ground up. When we buy our products, we look for women-owned businesses, and of course we look for black-owned businesses. So it’s wonderful to be able to bring that all the way through and say, ‘Yeah,’ these are things my parents do and these are things my parents know about.
“And it’s also wonderful to have a space where we can come together, and where we can hang out and be ourselves and have these real conversations. One of the things about some people here is that is that some of us are breast cancer survivors, I’m still in treatment, but I’m coming to an end, and it’s been wonderful to find other black women I can talk to about my experience. To find a place where you can say, “You’re welcome — bring your scars, bring your wounds and we can talk about it. Maybe I can’t solve the problem, but I can give you a space to talk.” And it’s important for us to have welcoming spaces where we can do these kinds of things.
Dondi Roberts Parker was so moved by all the conversations going on in the shop during the afternoon of December 28 that she called Sally Moore later that evening to find out what had been said after her departure. But before he left, Roberts Parker also contributed heavily to the conversation, including talking about a knitting community bond that transcends racial and ethnic identities.
“During my second period of breast cancer, luckily for me, I was part of that community because the people who spoke out the most for me were a group of white Jewish women I had met through knitting,” Roberts Parker, a 1982 Cass Tech graduate, said. “They came out, they helped, they provided food and meals and I never had to ask. And then, when I lost my mother in March, the knitting community came together for me again. That’s why I tell people all the time that knitting is cheaper than therapy. The connection crosses borders and you will hear it as you listen to today’s conversations. It’s no longer just about the yarn or the fiber community, it’s about us being together as a group.
Testimonials provided on Dec. 28 more than validated Moore’s decision to open a yarn boutique in Detroit — not a nail salon, which had been her intention immediately after she was selected as one of the cash winners. of the Motor City Match (Round 16) in 2019, where she competed against other local entrepreneurs with big dreams.
“After competing, because of COVID, I needed to pivot and keep moving forward,” said Moore, who also won first place in a Michigan Women Forward business pitch competition in 2021. reason i found the courage to go ahead with the yarn store is because of my team, who were smart enough and loved me enough to believe it was going to work even if they were dealing with a maniac.
Descriptive words flow naturally from Moore. She talks about a period of transformation in 2008 when she started “knitting fiercely”. Moments after that statement, Moore described a close friend of his circle as a “fiber arts fanatic.” She even uses the word “crack” to explain how addictive buying yarn can be for people who share her passion for fiber arts.
And like a quilt pattern rich in color and texture, Moore’s ability to vividly communicate her journey and passion through words was key to making her dream of Parker Avenue a reality.
“When I walk into a courtroom, I tell a story to six to eight people and ask them to believe me, and that’s what this entrepreneurial journey has been for me,” Moore said. “I had never run a business, I just spoke my mouth. But the people who supported me believe in me.
“You can look at a business plan, but the entrepreneur is the special ingredient, so I’m the secret sauce. This business plan is something I know like I know my name. We’re not trying to disruptive, but the beauty of diversity is having other voices at the table, and we’re just trying to show that life comes in all those nuances. We want to create a community that sees and accepts everyone where it happens and that’s what Parker Avenue is going to do.
Sally Moore introduces Karin Massey Brock as the first member of Parker Purl since Parker Avenue Knits opened in Detroit on December 28, 2021.
Sharon Moore, center left, talks to Janice Howell at Parker Avenue Knits in Detroit.
Parker Avenue Knits at 1578 Franklin Street in Detroit