Although Detroit Denim was legally incorporated in 2010, the journey began much, much earlier. Almost thirty years ago, when Eric Yelsma was a teenager, he discovered an interest in sewing. It started with his love of making things and altering his own jeans on a sewing machine.
Even while in a successful corporate sales career, Eric’s passion for sewing and making didn’t wane. Over time, his enthusiasm and experimentation emerged into a detailed, and very specific line of men’s jeans.
The finest quality components. All sourced from American companies. Handmade in Detroit, by Detroiters. To expose the myth that it’s impossible to create a sustainable jeans business domestically. And help diversify the manufacturing base of Detroit, by producing a line of men’s jeans like no other.
Eric branded these jeans and his company Detroit Denim Co.
Detroit Denim Timeline
From 2008 – 2010, Eric prototyped more than a dozen different Detroit Denim jeans designs in his home garage, and got feedback from friends and fellow denim heads. Over time, however, he learned his ‘hobby’ wasn’t defensible as a business model. Nor did it match his dream.
So in 2010, Eric took a leap of faith, dedicated himself to Detroit Denim full time, and set up shop at Ponyride. Ponyride is Detroit’s original and premiere maker space, providing inexpensive space for socially conscious artists and entrepreneurs.
Ponyride was the perfect place for Detroit Denim to grow into a viable production company and a globally recognized brand. It also set the stage for the company to become Ponyride’s first “graduate,” by moving its factory and flagship store to Detroit’s Rivertown in 2016.
In 2012, Brenna Lane answered a Craigslist ad for an industrial sewer. Now, she serves as a Detroit Denim partner and director of production and operations.
In 2014, Steve Wisinski came to Detroit Denim as a customer to buy a pair of jeans. And now, he’s also a Detroit Denim partner and director of finance.
Today, the Detroit Denim family consists of a team of eight like-minded, dedicated Detroiters. Each are proud makers and craftspeople, who support each other and embrace a culture that encourages hard work, precision sewing and the value of tradition.
The Detroit Denim Family
Head jean maker, handler of the most difficult sewing jobs. Trouble shooter and teacher. Constantly improving the jeans-making process.
I like that we are using our hands to make beautiful things and that we are creating new and different items each day.
Cutter / Leatherworker / Stitcher
Marker-maker, and material cutter/handler. Leatherworker and hardware expert. Jeans-maker and finisher.
Detroit Denim gives me the opportunity to work with my hands in a caring environment. Every day’s challenge is a gold medal on my wall.
Repairist / Designer
Denim repair guru. Designer and pattern-maker. Trend and style advisor.
Being in an environment of creators and having an opportunity to test and refine my skills as a maker.
Customer service, shipping/receiving, bookkeeping, calendar and general shop organizer.
I like the people, community and culture of work we have here.
Partner, Production & Operations
Co-visionary, production manager, shop operations/systems developer, technical designer and patternmaker, QC.
I love my coworkers, our culture of continuous improvement, and the opportunity to be a part of the growing U.S.-made apparel manufacturing community.
Co-visionary, accounting and financial management, investor relations.
I especially enjoy opportunity spotting and problem solving. IMHO, the upside potential for Detroit Denim is exceptional.
Apron maker, prep-piece builder and jean-making-trainee. Go-to for crafty-projects and creative inspiration.
I like working in a place where my individual talents are valued and utilized.
Lead visionary, sales, product designer and developer.
’To thine own self be true’ - Detroit Denim allows me to be true to myself.
Run our business how we run our lives (our business is personal) | Take care in what we do | Work hard, like God created us to do | Use all of our resources and abilities responsibly | Serve others | Enjoy ourselves and the beauty of what we do | Have positive relationships | Enjoy nice things responsibly | Don’t be wasteful | Do things with purpose