Renowned fashion designer Tracy Reese set to launch free art program for Detroit youth

Tracy Reese, founder of the Detroit-based sustainable brand Hope For Flowers and world-renowned stylist to former first lady Michelle Obama, is introducing a new youth program, called Hope for Flowers Art Enrichment Program. 

The free program will launch this fall at The Hope For Flowers studios located at  7375 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

“The reason I want to offer free Saturday art classes is that I enjoyed regular Saturday classes as a child growing up in Detroit," Reese says. "It made a tremendous difference to my understanding and enjoyment of the arts and culture and opened the door for me to have a creative career."

Starting this fall, the studio will offer Detroit children and adults free weekend and evening classes and workshops. While focused on art enrichment, the curriculum is written to foster local, creative talent while also building life skills and reviving sustainable life practices that have historically and intrinsically been part of Black culture. 

“I started the Hope for Flowers Art Enrichment program because I wanted to create more opportunities for Detroit's youth to experience art and culture without the burden of having to pay for specialized classes,” says Reese. “As a child growing up in Detroit, I had amazing exposure to Detroit's rich cultural community. I want to be a part of creating these same types of opportunities for today's Detroit youth.”

She adds that the program will allow Detroit’s children to expand the possibilities of their lives and careers in the arts beyond what they currently imagine.

“We want to help them ‘color their worlds.’ I believe that experiencing the arts enhances our view of the world and our place in it and gives us agency to create rich and vibrant lives.”

Reese says she started Hope For Flowers because she wanted to have a “responsibly-designed brand that treads lightly on this earth."

“It’s my mission to have a brand and a business that is kind to people and to the planet.” 

She says that it was also her dream to produce clothing in Detroit — her hometown. A graduate of Cass Technical High School, Reese moved to New York City and studied at the Parsons School of Design. She worked at several top design houses before launching her own label. 

“The lion’s share of our collection is produced overseas, but we are going to start producing products right here in Detroit,” Reese says in a video interview. Reese notes that she is hoping to build relationships and collaborations with local Detroit artisans to lift their visibility. 

In 2011 and 2012, Reese was launched into the mainstream when then-first lady Michelle Obama wore several dresses that she designed during a visit to Hawaii. Obama wore Reese’s designs on several other occasions as well, including her much-celebrated 2012 Democratic National Convention speech. Reese has also designed dresses worn by Taylor Swift and Sarah Jessica Parker, and her brand appears in Anthropologie and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.  

In the new art program, Reese says that she will offer classes to Detroit Public School students for free to encourage creativity and awareness of sustainability. Additionally, community engagement workshops will be open to all ages.

“Building sustainability in communities of color starts by changing the narrative that sustainability is an elitist concept,” she says on her website. “We plan to embed lessons and examples of sustainability in all classes and workshops offered. Hope for Flowers artisans will be involved in teaching classes to illustrate how artists from the neighborhood can both work in and give back to the communities where they live.”

Classes will be free to participants and take place every Saturday at the Hope for Flowers design studio. For more information or to register for The Hope for Flowers Art Enrichment Program visit the website.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Biba Adams.

Biba Adams is a regular contributor and project editor for Model D. Formally Model D's Editor at Large, she is a longtime journalist whose work is fueled by her passion for people and her native Detroit. Find her on all social channels @BibatheDiva.