One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

For this month’s theme of moments we’ve asked Ali Lapetina to tell us a little about who she is and what inspires her work:

Ali Lapetina

Ali Lapetina // Women of Banglatown

CM/DET: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on the 17th?

Ali: Following your curiosity.

CM/DET: Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?

Ali: I moved to Detroit in 2008 to attend the College for Creative Studies. At that time I was studying Advertising Design, but three years later I switched my concentration to photography. The city brought to my attention the opportunity the camera leads and how it was an excuse to explore and learn about strangers. I believe I wouldn’t have become a photographer if it wasn’t for my experience meeting the the people who live here. They continue to inspire me to capture their stories during this time in Detroit’s history.

CM/DET: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would your dream project be?

Ali: That’s a hard one – I would say my favorite project was when I photographed and in Port Au Prince, Haiti, it really pushed me to experience a human connection with a community I was not able to verbally communicate with. My dream project as of right now would be to travel to Palermo Sicily, a place where my ancestors are from. I am curious about photographing the refugee crisis; I would also implement a similar project to Women of Banglatown for recently resettled refugee women and children.

CM/DET: Since this month’s theme is Moments, do you mind sharing your favorite one from 2016 and one you’re REALLY looking forward to in 2017?

Ali: I am so grateful for last year, a lot happened. My favorite moment was being offered a solo show, because it was on my bucket list for 2017. I can’t wait to marry my best friend and spend our wedding weekend in Detroit with all our close friends and family who are traveling from all over the country.

CM/DET: What do you do when you feel stuck, creatively?

Ali: I remind myself I am trying to hard. Taking time to go to the gym a few times a week helps me recharge, become present and breathe. I find working towards a different goal outside of my personal practice helps the creative juices balance and I begin to feel more like myself.

CM/DET: If you were not working on your current endeavors as a photographer + educator, what other creative endeavor might you be doing instead?

Ali: Architecture, focusing on how social impact design can truly nourish a community’s potential to grow and sustain itself.

CM/DET: What’s your favorite animated gif?

Ali: made by Ellen Coons

You can hear more from Ali this week during her CreativeMornings talk at the Scarab Club. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks (graciously provided by Huge’s Detroit office!), and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free – just be sure to grab a ticket!

One of the many things we love about CreativeMornings is the opportunity to explore different, interesting subjects through the lens of each month’s global theme. The concepts and conversations that our speakers come up with never fail to spark a new perspective.

For this month’s theme of mystery we have invited Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson of Sfumato fragrances to tell us a little about who they are and what inspires them:

CM/DET: First, a little about your background. Each of you come from distinct creative backgrounds. Tell us something about your roots?

Kevin: My background is in both the culinary and science worlds. After working in a variety of restaurants over about 5 years, I was inspired by the movie Fast and Furious 2 to switch career paths and become an automotive engineer. I studied physics, chemistry, and engineering, but eventually combined my two loves into a pursuit of fragrance.

Jane: My background is in art, design, and event planning. I got a degree in Art focusing on printmaking, but then spent 6 years doing event planning for concerts and arts organizations, before moving into to web and UX design. The visual arts and focus on experiences shapes the thought process behind Sfumato’s aesthetic.

CM/DET: It seems like scent is often overlooked as an art form. We can all agree on its power when cooking, or camping in a forest, or walking into a room that smells like one of our strongest memories, so then why do you think that it is not celebrated in the same way that visual and performing arts are?

Kevin: I think it is the lack of a vocabulary to describe scents. Scents are very personal, very hard to share digitally.  Even the words we do have kinda suck, like saying something that smells like an herb is ‘herbaceous,’ or a wood smells 'woody.’ It’s hard to write a paean for an art form without words, so it has a bit of a solipsistic quality. “Does everyone else smell what I’m smelling? If I tried to describe this scent, would anyone know what the hell I’m talking about?” Possibly not.  

CM/DET: How do you recommend one choose what scent might be right for them?

Kevin: Watch yourself in the mirror while you try it and see if it makes you smile.

CM/DET: What are some of your favorite smells?

Kevin: I like the smell of mud in the forest, I like the smell of entering someone’s home while they are in the middle of cooking, I like the smell of Nag Champa in college dorm rooms, I like the smell of babies’ heads, I like the smell of skunks at a distance, I like the smell of beer brewing from across the neighborhood.

CM/DET: Our theme for this month is “Mystery.” What images does this conjure up in your mind?

Kevin: Mysteries are unanswered questions. I think there is no unanswered question that logic, persistence, analysis, and insight cannot unravel. Mysteries are the reason to keep living, keep searching. If everything was known, life would be so boring.

CM/DET: What does Detroit smell like?

Kevin: There are many areas in Detroit that wildlife has taken over. In the spring especially, I like to take walks and pretend I’m a bee and smell every colorful flower I pass. North Corktown in particular has a lot of wildflowers.

CM/DET: If you were not doing Sfumato, what other creative endeavor might you be doing instead?

Kevin: I would grow a gigantic garden and learn acupuncture.

Jane: I would illustrate a picture book.

CM/DET: What do you do when you feel stuck, creatively?

Kevin: I never feel stuck. I always feel like I have 10,000 ideas, but only enough time to work on 3 of them.

Jane: I turn up some music and dance around. Movement is the main thing, but I think time away from a project gets me unstuck.

You can hear Kevin and Jane talk more about mystery, the power of scent, and Sfumato next week during their CreativeMornings talk at Nora. Doors open at 8:30 for coffee, snacks, and mingling, and the talk will begin at 9:00am. As always, the event is free.

Our December CreativeMorning is TOMORROW at Will Leather Goods in Midtown, Detroit! We caught up with our speaker, Stephen, for a few minutes earlier this week to get a sneak peek into what he’ll be sharing this Friday. 

CM/DET: Don’t give it all away just yet but can you tell us in three words what you’ll be talking about on the 16th?

Stephen: Keep Design Crazy

CM/DET: Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?

Stephen: I’m immediately excited by the vastness of space in and around the city.

CM/DET: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would your dream project be?

Stephen: Too many projects to pick from. I did an unused logo for the Detroit Art Collection last year, and that was a lot of fun.

CM/DET: Since this month’s theme is Sound, what’s your go to playlist or podcast to listen to while you work.

Stephen: I recommend Survive’s new album (RR7349). They did the music for Stranger Things on Netflix.

CM/DET: We will defintely have to check it out! We have quite a few Stranger Things fans in our midst. What’s your favorite animated gif?

Stephen: This was in my feed this morning.

CM/DET: Right on. #Nostalgia

You’ll just have to swing by tomorrow morning for more from Stephen on keeping design crazy and his Detroit inspiration but for now you can peek through some of his design work and music here and here, tweet at him or stalk him on instagram and we’ll see you soon early birds! 

Help us help Detroiters - Join us this month and #GiveWarmth this winter through Mittens for Detroit. For all the success this city has seen in recent years, it’s still our unfortunate reality that, for thousands of our neighbors, a single pair of warm gloves to protect their hands is a luxury they cannot afford during our harsh winter season. Bring a pair (or five!) of new gloves or mittens to our December talk for extra high fives and hugs! Don’t have time to pick a pair up? You can donate here - just be sure to note CreativeMornings Detroit on your donation under “I want my donation to be dedicated:” so we can share our collective impact after the event!

It started small. One square inch, to be exact. Six years ago, Jerry Paffendorf and Mary Carter began a project that allowed anyone to purchase one square inch of land from a local lot the couple owned. Inches could be purchased for $1. Once you “bought” the land (sort of like naming a brick), you would receive a tiny deed, as well as some recommendations for how to manage the property. You could start a garden, a community space, or perhaps a business. Online, you could move about the land and see who your “neighbors” were, and even collaborate with them. Loveland referred to this adorable phenomenon as “Inchvesting” and created a cartoon character named Inchy to help inspire involvement from curious “Inchvestors." 

What may have seemed, simply, as a cute project actually paved the way for a tremendous undertaking. Flash forward a few years, and you would find the Loveland team mapping data on every single parcel of land in the City of Detroit. Now, they’re working to map every parcel in America. The Inchvesting concept showed them that a digital visual record of who-owned-what could transform access to real estate. 

Suddenly the team found themselves square in the middle of urban policy, providing a level of transparency sorely needed to shed light on the shadowy issue of local real estate ownership. With Detroit’s legacy of slum lords, foreclosures, and tax scandals, the Loveland team finally broke the public’s silence with a simple question: Why don’t we own this?  

Now, there is a whole team of staffers constantly collecting data on land parcels and updating the site regularly, and Loveland has been tapped by the City to produce the Motor City Mapping Project, which is helping to make a case for city-wide blight removal efforts as part of its master plan. 

We asked Loveland Technologies to be our speaker for the topic of Transparency because we believe that creative people and playful ideas can lead to deeply transitional work for the public good. Big change doesn’t have to come from the boardroom of a skyscraper. And as designers and creative types, we have incredible tools at our disposal for invoking transparency by shining a light on issues that may not get a closer look when not creatively visualized. 

Jerry and Mary will be sharing their story with us this Friday at the Urban Consulate. As always, doors open at 8:30 with the conversation kicking off at 9am! See you soon early birds. 

Hello Detroit! Our September speaker on #Empathy is Veronika Scott - founder of The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based non-profit that hires previously homeless women to make sleeping bag coats for homeless people. While you’re waiting to grab your ticket for this month’s event, hop on over to their website to learn more about their awesome mission and how you can help. Learn more about Veronika here.

A huge thanks to this month’s sponsors as well: Batch Brewing for hosting us in their new space, Dine Drink Detroit and Le Petite Zinc for keeping our bellies full, and Shinola for their generous contribution. We couldn’t do it without your help! 

Tickets go on sale Monday, September 21st.

For more information please visit or CreativeMornings/Detroit is on Twitter at @Detroit_CM and Facebook at

Creative people tend to desire three things: a good reason to get up in the morning, an inspiring community of peers, and of course, good coffee. CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series that aims to provide those three things one day a month, for free, in over 115 cities across the globe. It started in New York City in 2008 when founder Tina Roth Eisenberg (also known as designer/blogger Swiss Miss) decided to create the kind of event that she always wanted to attend. It turns out she wasn’t alone, and now a community of nearly 100,000 people attend the events in each of its chapter cities.

The CreativeMornings global community has spread rapidly in part because local hosts, volunteers, and sponsors commit to making it happen every month. In 2012, Detroit was the 35th city to join CreativeMornings. It was founded by members of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), who sponsored and organized the event for its first two years. After a year of searching for new leaders to run the events, the series is re-launching in September with Bethany Betzler and Lisa Michelle Waud as hosts.

Bethany Betzler was the initial host of CreativeMornings/Detroit and stepped away when she left DC3 in 2013 to create her own business that provides strategic guidance and production for culture and media projects. She’s always loved the spirit of CreativeMornings, along with the challenge of how to make it resonate locally and globally. “I’m coming back to hosting CreativeMornings because I really believe in its ability to bring fun and inspiring people together, both in the speakers and in the attendees that it attracts. Detroit is a wildly creative city and I want to help showcase that globally.”

Lisa Waud was a regular at the initial CreativeMornings/Detroit events and made it a ritual to attend. When the opportunity to host came up, she was eager to get involved and add her own creative insight to the events. Lisa runs the floral design company pot&box, and is the creator of this fall’s highly anticipated Flower House project, where she and other floral designers from across the U.S. will adorn an old Hamtramck home in flowers from floor to ceiling, and then will responsibly deconstruct the house to make way for a floral garden that will stock Lisa’s business.

“I’ve been known to call myself a sheepdog,” Lisa said about her new role as host of CreativeMornings. “I love gathering like-minded people into inspiring situations with good coffee, snacks, and conversations. CreativeMornings is all my favorite things. I’ve always enjoyed attending the events, and as the Detroit host, I can combine my interests of small business, the maker community, thoughtful design, and our amazing city. Plus, did I mention good coffee?”

September’s event at Batch Brewing Company takes place as part of the 2015 Detroit Design Festival with guest speaker Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan, who will speak about the role of empathy in design. The event is free, but attendees must register in advance at the link below. Registration begins Monday, September 21st.

For more information please visit or e-mail CreativeMornings/Detroit is on Twitter at @Detroit_CM and Facebook at

At University of Detroit-Mercy, School of Architecture (4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit, Michigan 48221) on September 5th, we will be talking on the theme of Color with Bucky Willis of Bleeding Heart Design (b.h.d). b.h.d often uses color in their collaborations to transform perceptions and feelings about already existing structures. For free tickets are available at CreativeMornings/Detroit.

A native of Northeast Detroit, Rebecca “Bucky” Willis holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy. The heart of her design career lies at the point where architecture and design meet social issues and emotional impact. This inspired her to create Bleeding Heart Design – a design process that inspires altruism. The purpose of b.h.d is to evoke emotions that spark positivity in the lives of the people who encounter it.

 Interested in becoming the new Detroit host?  Apply here!