Deana Wojcik and Chris Carrier lead Detroit Mushroom Factory. This business supported by Motor City Match is growing mushrooms for grocers, restaurants, and chefs throughout the Metro-Detroit area. The couple came to Detroit from California and is now thriving in business. The process of making mushrooms, selling mushrooms, and teaching people the art form is what Detroit Mushroom Factory is about. Check out their Motor City Match interview and visit www.motorcitymatch.com to find out more about the small businesses reinvesting in Detroit.
Deana Wojcik: My name’s Deana Wojcik of Detroit Mushroom Factory.
Chris Carrier: And I’m Chris Carrier. Detroit Mushroom Factory is an urban mushroom farm located right here in the beautiful city of Detroit. We’ve been operating for about, what, three years?
D: Three and a half.
C: Three and a half years, let’s say.
K: Why did you all apply for Motor City Match?
D: For the support. You know, we’re—we both had other jobs where we weren’t in charge and neither of us have started a business before, so it was really clear really fast that there was a lot we didn’t know. We had seen other people, other business owners who we really respect and look up to, go through that system, so we thought we’d give it a shot. It felt like a long shot, but we were so lucky to get in that initial make-a-match round and since then we’ve just been reapplying every round going through the whole process.
K: Alright, how have you found the Motor City Match Process so far?
C: Really effective, I would say. It’s been really good at helping us I think just keep focused, because every, you know, every time we want to go back for another round or something, it forces us to think about the questions they ask and you know, even if we’re not getting concrete things from them in some cases, it’s just, it’s making us ask those questions of ourselves and sort of push the ball forward on our own. So I think we certainly wouldn’t be as far along as we are without Motor City Match, and I think, yeah, it’s mostly because it helps us get that focus.
D: It’s a little bit of a long story. We were living in California before we moved to Detroit and Chris was growing mushrooms just as a hobby, and when we decided to move from California, we both got rid of all of our possessions and we lived out of our car for awhile, actually, just driving around the country finding different places to live, and the one thing that Chris insisted on holding on to through that whole road trip was a big piece of equipment called an autoclave, which is used to mushroom cultivation. So we had dragged the thing all around the country and we figured when we got here, we saw the great urban agriculture community and we decided, we have the equipment, we have the know-how, we’d give it a shot in Detroit. And an advantage of Detroit that certainly is not true in California is there’s space and real estate available here, so we’re moving into a formerly obsolete warehouse that now we’re getting to repurpose into a farm and things like that just don’t exist in California. So we were really excited to see a space.
C: It’s part of what appealed to us here is, like, just the—what a lot of people see—is the potential, you know, and all these things that are empty. Empty buildings, empty spaces, turn it into something that you want to turn it into, and it’s certainly been a challenge, but…
D: We have a few really loyal restaurant customers. Rose’s Fine Food, which is on the East Side on East Jefferson, Brooklyn Street Local, which is in Corktown, Sister Pie, the bakery over in the Villages, and ??? (3:03) Coriander Kitchen and Farm are operating out of there. So some of these local restaurants that have really committed to sourcing their produce locally are our biggest customers and clients, and then we’re just starting to move into retail also, so if someone who isn’t a restaurant owner wanted to buy our mushrooms, they can find them at the Farmer’s Hand, which is a grocery store in Corktown. And we have a waiting list. So we’re hoping to just continue to supply restaurants and grocery stores in the city and eventually maybe outside the city, although Detroit is definitely our first priority.
C: We’re also a part of the Grown in Detroit program, which is all about sort of local food producers in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, so during the warmer months, we’ll sell at a table at Eastern Market at the Grown in Detroit Table there, and we will sell as part of that sort of cooperative.
D: They’re incredibly supportive to all local growers, so we’re really proud to be part of that.
K: Alright, so, someone wants to get in contact with you, what should they do? How do they reach you?
D: They can look on our website, detroitmushroomfactory.com, or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. That will give them direct access to us.