Recuperating small leather pieces from other tanning process and guaranteeing a salary to those that would otherwise being at risk of not having one. This is that the win-win model of Jarret Schalff, young entrepreneur out of Detroit, created when he opened his business names Pingree Detroit. Schalff saw a side of its neighborhood that he had never notices before 2014: the majority of residents were veterans that served in the US army, but even with that resume and young age by their side (most of them were around 30), they couldn’t find a stable job. “It was unacceptable, more so because they are veterans”, Schalff thought. So, what was the solution?
An opportunity from byproducts
The young entrepreneur created a business plan that could contribute to his community. Inevitably, his attention focused on the automotive segment, of which Detroit is still a very high-level player at a global level. “Every day thousands of kilograms of new leather from the automotive industry is not used for simple reasons, such as problems with colors and other small imperfections”, he explains from the virtual pages of visitdetroit.com. This type of material usually ends up in landfills, but Mr. Schalff decided to give it new life. “It’s perfect – he continues -. All you need to do is transforming it into something else, which will be created with high-quality leather, it will be sustainable and will be handmade and durable”. And thus, Pingree Detroit, a leather goods’ company – and a footwear one since 2018 -, was created in 2015, to guarantee veterans a steady stipend, as well as a part of the profits from the business itself. Pingree has hired 8 veterans since 2015, some full-time and some part-time.
Beside from answering some ethical metters such as the recycling of materials, sustainability, environmental respect and community support, products by Pingree Detroit also try to connect their “hearts” to those that buy them. Each one of them is sold with a short story of the veteran that manufactured it. Every leather handbag, wallet or shoe that is crafted in the small Detroit-based laboratory is a unique piece, and so is the person that actually made it.