For as long as it's been around, people have been toying with the idea of the "American Dream." Is it really possible, the rags-to-riches ascension that can only occur in a land of limitless opportunities? To some, that notion has run its course.
But for local boutique owner Tracy Garley, the dream is alive and well. Since 2010, Garley has owned and operated the successful Zarkpa's Purses & Accessories in downtown Detroit. The 26-year-old entrepreneur has always been looking toward a fruitful future, even when times were scary and new.
"I moved here when I was 11 from West Africa, Liberia," Garley says. "It was a culture shock, just coming here to a land that was so unique. My parents were always inspiring me, like, they would say, 'You have all these opportunities. What are you gonna do with it?' So I just took it and ran with it."
And run she did, back to her American hometown.
"After I graduated college, I just saw so much positive attention coming back to the city, and I wanted to get back," Garley says. "A lot of students, when they graduate, they go out of state. I've always been passionate about Detroit."
Garley first learned the tricks of the trade at her mother's store in Inkster, where she helped out throughout college. When the time came, though, she set up shop on her own and began vehemently promoting Zarkpa's.
"I started working events, starting to let people know about my business. My friends were like, 'All you do is talk about Zarkpa's.' And I was like, 'Um, yeah, what else am I going to talk about?' You have to really want it, especially with retail," Garley says.
These days, Zarkpa's prides itself on staying diverse and trendy while remaining affordable, sourcing stock from Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, New Jersey, and even Texas. Colorful purses and dresses line the walls, giving off an aura of class and panache, sex appeal, and fashion. Garley describes her demographic as "a city girl with big dreams."
"Everybody has different personalities, so I want to be buying stuff that fits everyone's budgets. From $25 to $125, you can get so many cute things," Garley says. "You can get bags, earrings, necklaces perfect for a woman that's starting a business and wants to step outside and be confident. She's confident."