| Follow Us:


Devita Davison

By MJ Galbraith
March 14, 2014

Detroit native Devita Davison had no intentions of leaving New York, a city where she was thriving with a successful specialty food boutique in Bed-Stuy and a house on Long Island. She was part of a local food community in New York, one that she felt proud to be involved with. But then a hurricane came--and not a metaphorical one, either. Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island in October of 2012, causing billions of dollars worth of property damage to the communities there, including Davison's.

Without her house, Davison decided to move back to Michigan and stay with her parents for a short time. It was an opportunity to regroup. She had every intention to go back to New York, a place where she had lived for nearly 20 years. But after a few days of sitting on her parents' couch and feeling depressed about what happened, it was her mother that got Davison's feet back on the ground and convinced her to stop feeling sorry for herself.

“My mother said to me, 'You know, Devita, the Lord didn't send the waters to drown you but to move you. You need to find out why you're in Detroit. There's a lot of things that are interesting that are happening here. I advise for you to get out and rediscover your hometown.' I didn't know where to go. I didn't know what to do,” says Davison. “But I remembered reading an article in the New York Times about a place called the Green Garage.”

After contacting the Green Garage, Devita was introduced to Jess Daniel, Executive Director of FoodLab Detroit. Soon, Davison was helping create Detroit Kitchen Connect, a network of co-working spaces for the city's food entrepreneurs. In addition to the two kitchens they've established and operate, the group also helps others open kitchens of their own.

In applying to Detroit Kitchen Connect, aspiring food entrepreneurs get access to kitchen equipment that otherwise may be unavailable to them. The group helps the budding businesses with permits, licenses, and navigating city bureaucracy. Davison says, too, that getting a group of people in the same space helps everyone understand the bigger concerns that face businesses in the city.

“It's connecting entrepreneurs to a kitchen where they get to share a space. They get to activate a community. They get to activate an under-utilized space. They get to work together in close proximity to other food entrepreneurs,” says Davison. “Now they're starting to build their ecosystem. Now they're starting to communicate with like minds. They're beginning to share.”

Davison says she regularly sees the entrepreneurs problem-solving, deciding to go in on supplies together to save money or trading shifts to save time. Detroit Kitchen Connect is also branching into advocacy, lobbying the city for better food business policies. She wears many hats, managing kitchen schedules and the books, ensuring that the kitchens are clean, properly licensed, insured, and running smoothly.

Davison left one community for another and, while it wasn't necessarily voluntary, she has embraced it here, wanting to stay and help build something bigger than herself. The community, she says, is what keeps her going. And she sees a lot of her story in Detroit's. It's something she identifies with.

“We both ended up in the same place: On our asses. And we both are going to rise out of the ashes. That's the feeling that I get here. That you may be down, baby, but you're not knocked out. We're going to come back together,” says Davison. “You can't see that. You can't take a picture of that. But that's the vibe here.”

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts

Twitter Feed

Related People

  • Jess Daniel
    Jess Daniel is the founder of FoodLab Detroit, a group to support the development, growth, and cooperation of locally owned socially and environmentally responsible food enterprises.

Related Projects

  • FoodLab Detroit
    FoodLab Detroit is a group to support the development, growth, and cooperation of locally owned socially and environmentally responsible food enterprises.

Related Resources

  • Eastern Market Corporation
    The mission of the Eastern Market Corporation is to mobilize leadership and resources to achieve stakeholders vision for the Eastern Market District and make the Eastern Market the undisputed center for fresh and nutritious food in southeast Michigan.