“Fresh and relevant” and “trendy and traditional” are words that aptly describe the collection at Blackbird East, a new boutique in Gaslight Village. Selling accessories, clothes, and gifts hand-curated by the owners, Debbi and Michael, the store strives to meet all the needs of their customers. Both Debbi and Michael travel extensively and are in tune with the current fashion trends. A stroll through the beautiful space highlights the multiple price points, the personable atmosphere, and the high quality merchandise. “We offer a variety of price points and styles as it reflects our own lifestyle,” says Debbi. “We enjoy finer things without wanting to always spend a lot. Plus we love traditional clothing and classic styles yet think trends can be fun to intermingle in our daily lives.”
Debbi and Michael were born and raised on the East Coast and moved to West Michigan as adults. Debbi grew up in Harrison, New York, just 30 minutes outside of New York City. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1988, she returned to NYC and worked in advertising. She and her family moved to Grand Rapids in 2002 post 9/11 in order to raise her children in a safer and peaceful city. Michael grew up in the Poconos Mountains, Pennsylvania. After graduating from college in South Carolina, he lived in Florida and established himself as a successful businessman. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Grand Rapids as a pharmaceutical salesman and started a family.
“In July 2016, we got married and blended our family of seven kids and three dogs,” says Debbi. “Our children range in age from 15-25 years. Because of the ten year span of years, they live all over. We have one in Denver, one in NYC, one in Holland (Michigan), one in Ann Arbor at U of M, one in Houghton at Michigan Tech, one in East Lansing at MSU, and one is starting ninth grade at FHN this August. We also have 20 chickens and three beehives.
Michael and I love to bike, scuba, and travel, so I’d say it’s a very busy life!”
“The desire to have our own business was present in each of us before merging lives,” says Debbi. “The great part is the skills we brought together and our experiences prior to this venture. Michael is a business school trained salesman who has served on local boards for nonprofits and is an amazing team player. He loves to learn new trades, he’s wonderful at mentoring, and he is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and build something from the ground up.” “Debbi is well versed in marketing and media, has served in a multitude of nonprofits and worked in HR and finance,” adds Michael. “She is big picture savvy and a visionary. The balance of us as a couple is so positively synergetic that from the instant we started dreaming of a business together we knew it would happen. And when it did, it would be well thought out, financially thought through, and a glowing reflection of us as a couple.”
Blackbird East strives to meet the needs of all their customers, even opening before hours recently to attire a bride and groom for a spontaneous elopement. “We’re willing to custom order as well if we don’t have what you’re looking for,” says Debbi. “Also, you can enjoy in-store coffee and tea while you shop and your children will love to play in our kiddy corner.” Debbi and Michael pride themselves on donating to local nonprofits and sponsorships. “They are the foundation of our community,” says Debbi. “We love EGR as it reminds us of our own hometowns. We enjoy the restaurants, the local pride, as well as the quaintness and the importance of quality education.” The next time you stop in Blackbird East you may even get an extra surprise of farm fresh eggs from Debbi’s chickens in addition to fresh fashion!
Come say "hi!" at our locally owned clothing store in East Grand Rapids.