Amy Swift is going on vacation soon. It may not be a full-on vacation, but she'll take it. That's because it will be the first time Swift has been away from her fledgling business, Building Hugger
, for an extended-period of time.
"I have never left this work for this long since I started," Swift says. "Frankly, it scares me. But I'm not going to pass on this opportunity."
is a preservation-focused construction firm that does a lot of work in the lost trades of historic preservation like woodworking, but specializes in window restoration.
It's also growing quickly. Building Hugger currently employs 11 people with a goal of hitting 15 by the end of the year, up from four a year ago.
"It's not like there is a trade school for windows," Swift says. "We have to train everyone in-house."
This is not the time to take the hand off of the tiller of a fast-growing business. But the opportunity, a fellowship with the Tory Burch Foundation
, is too good to pass up.
The New York-based foundation helps women entrepreneurs grow their businesses by providing access to capital, entrepreneurial education, mentoring and networking opportunities. The year-long fellowship comes with a three-day workshop, a $10,000 grant for business education, and the chance to pitch for a $100,000 investment.
Building Hugger is no stranger to finding clever ways to raise seed capital. It won a $10,000 challenge grant from NEIdeas
last year and has raised thousands of dollars from Kiva Zip
loan drives. Building Hugger also received a Motor City Match
design grant to build out a specialty hardware store.
That money helped Building Hugger grow and create jobs over the last year. It recently moved into a bigger shop, which included its new hardware store, on Chene near Eastern Market.
Building Hugger has taken on a number of window restoration projects that have helped it double its revenue over the past year. Those projects include work on the Henry Ford Fair Lane Estate
, the George Ladve House in Brush Park, and the Michigan State Capitol
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.