Founded five years ago on the premise of perseverance and solidarity, Ponyride continues to create a unique space for artists and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and ideas.
“We think of it as an incubator space,” said Noah Morrison, director of operations at Ponyride. “This is more of an accelerator because the people moving in here already have a base for what they’re doing.”
With 50 businesses and organizations within the walls of the 30,000 square foot building, Ponyride is home to a diverse group of residents seeking to make Detroit a better place economically and environmentally. We want to give you a glimpse into a few of those businesses making an impact in the city.
Check out the blog every Friday for the next five weeks starting January 13, as we write about our encounters with the Ponyride residents, from well-known businesses like Empowerment Plan to organizations with inspiring ideas like Playground Detroit and Detroit SOUP.
Back On the Horse
“The Ponyride name comes from the idea of being able to get on a horse, make mistakes, fall off, get back on and make a bunch of adults say ‘Ponyride’ over and over again,” jokes Morrison.
The name also harkens to a child-like belief in creativity, one that takes risks and is willing to learn and grow from failure.
The organization became a 501c3 non-profit in 2013 and was purchased for $100,000 on foreclosure by founder Philip Cooley.
Shortly after, artists, entrepreneurs and nonprofits began filling the facility, activating dedicated and co-working spaces in the building with the intention of collaboration and shared goal of success for all.
One of the first to emerge was Empowerment Plan (EP), the brainchild of Veronika Scott, a former college student at CCS, who produces coats made of recycled and unused materials donated by Carhartt and GM.
Residents like EP not only believe in success for their businesses, but growth and development in Detroit.
The Ponyride model focuses on several parameters:
A 65-cent per square foot cost for a dedicated space, encourages organizations with “social missions” like EP to utilize the lower cost and outgrow the space. Residents rent out the space on a month-to-month lease at approximately one quarter of market rate in the neighborhood. The build-out by tenants and volunteers create an on-going evolution of the building that individualizes and modernizes each space.
The model also calls for residents with diverse skill-sets, education and community outreach efforts and the utilization of reclaimed and salvaged materials.
The dance studio and co-working space functions as both a public and an event space. It is often rented for rehearsals and classes for the 10 regular dance studio members and for private events. As one of the first spaces to be finished with funding, the mirror walls and wood floor offer room for dance classes as well as corporate brainstorming sessions.
The co-working shared space has 25 residents, with the rest of the 25 being dedicated spaces. Dedicated spaces belong to business like Detroit Public Theater, Cineatopia, Playground Detroit, Silver Lights Photography and Huffington Post.
Ponyride provides much more than a low-cost space for artists and businesses: it encourages a growth and solidarity that echoes the mission of Detroit itself.
Be sure to check in every Friday as we highlight the residents of Ponyride and their mission for city success.
Ponyride is located at 1401 Vermont with a free weekly tour every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.