Yellowcake Shop finds permanent home in Gordon Square, will host Barbie-themed grand opening

Valerie Mayen’s Yellowcake Shop will celebrate the grand opening of its permanent Detroit Shoreway location on Sept. 23, 2023. (Photo by Rachelle Miller)

This summer Yellowcake Shop announced their permanent location at 5218 Detroit Ave. on the east side of Gordon Square. Yellowcake, which sells high-quality, sustainable, handmade garments, is owned and operated by Valerie Mayen, a “Project Runway” alum. It was previously housed in 78th Street Studios, and when their lease expired, Mayen decided to use this opportunity to find a permanent home for Yellowcake within the Detroit Shoreway community. 

Mayen saw potential for her Latin-owned clothing business to set up a permanent shop in the Gordon Square area, saying she wanted to provide representation for other small business owners and that she knows they will be able to build growth, visibility, and wealth here. 

The new shop will also be home to El Corazon, a marketplace of select small businesses, starting in 2024. (Photo by Rachelle Miller)

Grand opening, Barbie style

In celebration of this new move, Yellowcake will be hosting a Barbie World themed grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 23. The event will take place from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Why Barbie? “We resonate with Barbie, and we think our client resonates with Barbie, no matter what her age,” said Mayen. “Barbie really is the point in time when girls were allowed to not always have to think about being moms. We don’t have to just be that, or we can choose not to be that at all. I think that’s what really resonates with our clients.”

Included with ticket entry are complimentary samplings from Domo Yakitori Sushi, a husband-and-wife-duo sushi restaurant, and female-owned Sweet Bean Candies. There will be a special appearance by local drag star Shamus Veranda L’ni Dickinson

Among the lineup of local vendors that will be in attendance are Unfiltered Beauty Studio, a female-owned business that specializes in tooth gems and face and nail rhinestones; Refill Goodness, a female-owned, sustainable refill store; and Hola Island Provisions, a local food company specializing in Caribbean spices and marinades. 

Tickets to the grand opening are available here and start at $5 for general admission.

Owner Valerie Mayen takes pride in Yellowcake’s “slow-fashion” approach. (Photo by Rachelle Miller)

Sustainable fashion, sustainable business

Yellowcake’s purpose extends beyond fashion trends. In a fast-fashion world, Yellowcake takes a more methodical and conscientious approach, according to Mayen. “Our garments need to be priced at what they are priced at so we can pay our employees and our sewing laborers,” she said. “We can help move the needle positively for the slow-fashion industry.” Yellowcake specializes in high quality textiles that they carefully sew to create timeless pieces, she said. 

In addition to Yellowcake Shop, Mayen has conceptualized a local market, El Corazon, which means “heart” in Spanish. The market, which will be housed in the same space as Yellowcake, will house 8 to 10 different local vendors. Mayen’s goal was to find businesses that were predominantly female-owned or owned by persons of color. Currently 85% are female-owned and 55% are owned by persons of color. There are currently 2 rental spots still available, which they hope to fill with skin care and jewelry brands. 

Domo Sushi owners Christina Osborne and Carmen Paponetti are excited to be part of the El Corazon project, according to Osborne. “Once we got to know about the project, we were really inspired to work in an all-woman business. The project is not too big, and it’s not too small, so it kind of fit us perfectly.” Domo Sushi started in 2019, and they focus on offering a variety of sushi. In keeping with Mayen’s goal of bringing sustainable businesses to the area, Domo Sushi prioritizes the use of non-GMO rice and sustainable fish.  

El Corazon is slated to open in the spring of 2024. In the meantime, the architect will be on site during the grand opening to give tours. 

Emboldened women

“We consider the Yellowcake woman to be a woman that’s kicking ass in her career. She’s climbing the corporate ladder, she’s shattering all the proverbial glass ceilings, and challenging gender norms while dominating in a male dominated industry,” Mayen said. Fashion can be part of that, she says. “Clothes make a big difference in how we feel about ourselves; they can be transformative.”

Yellowcakes hopes to infuse this slow-fashion, female emboldenment into the Gordon Square area. “Emboldenment seems to fit better than empowerment, because empowerment connotes that they didn’t have power to begin with, that they were given it by someone else,” said Mayen. “When women put on our clothes, they already have  the confidence needed to achieve what’s in them. Yellowcake’s clothes help embolden women; that’s the heart of our why.”

Yellowcake Shop is located at 5218 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. Shop or learn more on their website or Instagram page. Grand opening information and registration is available here

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