Women's History Month: Professional Go-Getter

I intentionally choose to work with a diverse mix of business owners across the metro Detroit region. Professionally, it’s to improve my problem-solving skills to better serve my clients, but personally, it’s because each client has such a unique story to tell. Many of my clients are women that experience challenges most male business owners never have to overcome in order to move forward. Yet these women are knocking down obstacles on a daily basis to build their businesses, grow as people, and achieve their dreams. For Women’s History Month, I’m uplifting the many ladies I have the honor to support on their entrepreneurial journey.

Kelsey Hubbell - Roots to Rise + Detroit Up North

Photo by Jacob Lewkow

Photo by Jacob Lewkow

When did you have your first business idea? What helped you decide to launch?

Well, if you want to take it way way back, when I was 10 years old my best friend Sarah and I created a summer camp called Kids Day In for neighborhood kids. We created fliers, cold called families from our school phone book, created a full week of programming based on a multitude of themes, wrote up waivers and permission slips, the whole nine yards! We eventually expanded to multiple camps a summer and were making thousands of dollars as 12 and 13 year olds. So I guess you could say I was born with the entrepreneurial spirit...

What do you really love about your business?

I love owning my own business because it gives me the freedom to create my own goals, agenda, and work plan. I get to do things because I care about them, not because someone told me to.

What don't you like doing within your business?

I dislike all the documentation and analysis, mostly because I'm not good at it. Spreadsheets and budgets have never been my friend. I am a much more visual and creative thinker and I struggle with making the time for the "boring stuff".

What can you improve on with your business?

I think there will always be room for improvement! I've been lucky to have worked on such a wide variety of projects and worn literally every hat in the closet. I am looking forward to improving my focus. It's been very exciting to "dabble" in everything from community organizing to social media, bartending to wedding planning, nonprofit to policy, etc. But it's hard to do 15 different things at an exceptional scale, so I'm looking forward to expanding my team and improving my focus so I can really dig into my areas of talent.

What's one of the biggest lessons you've learned since starting your business?


It's definitely been a learning process in understanding what my strengths and weaknesses are and when I need to ask for help. It's also been an amazing testament to how incredible my community and support system are! Starting my own business has really shed light on how many wonderful people are lifting me up and want to see me succeed. I can be really hard on myself and I am often blinded by self doubt and irrational performance anxiety, it's been very comforting to know how many people are watching and cheering me on.

How does being a woman impact your business?

I think you have to work a little harder to prove yourself. I honestly think I got a lot of opportunities when I was younger simply because I was a "pretty girl", but I took advantage of those opportunities and proved myself, not only as an employee, but as a leader, innovator, and bad ass despite my gender.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

It is tricky and definitely a work in progress. I try to set boundaries for myself when it comes to email and phone access, I don't get notifications on my phone for any of that stuff, because I would be way too distracted. Thankfully I love the work I do so oftentimes social conversations evolve into brainstorming and ideations about future events and partnerships, but that's okay, right?

But really, I think developing a morning routine is essential. I try to write a to do list at night and get up a couple hours earlier than my partner to enjoy my coffee and listen to a podcast while I walk my dog in the morning. Having that alone time in the morning helps me gather my thoughts for the day and practice mindfulness.

Whom do you seek advice from for your business? Where do you get your support?

I feel super lucky in having been a part of some incredible programs and organizations that gave me the basic skills, foundation, and confidence to take this leap. I was a Challenge Detroit Fellow in 2016 and remain connected with Challenge Detroit staff and alumni, I am a BUILD Institute alum and utilize the skills gained in the course almost daily. I have some of the most inspiring friends and female mentors, not to mention I was raised by the baddest lady in Detroit, (Fit) Trish Hubbell. I undoubtedly fell directly next to the tree, because I learned my drive, ambition, passion for social justice, and down to earth perspective from her.

What do you have coming up on the horizon that you're excited about?

Spring Into Corktown and Camping on the Cut! Summer 2019 is going to be an incredible season for me and my team! I've recently started working with the Corktown Business Association and will be taking the lead on planning the annual neighborhood event Spring Into Corktown on May 18th! All day Corktown businesses and neighbors will open their doors for a community focused day packed with activities and special events. It's been a great event for the community in the past and I am really excited to help take it to the next level.

Also, my company Detroit Up North is partnering with Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and hosting the second annual Camping on the Cut, an overnight community campout on the Dequindre Cut, on June 1st! All day we're hosting WhateverFest #9 featuring local bands and DJs, free to the public. At 10 PM the Cut closes to the public and hundreds of participants will spend the night under the stars, but mostly the city lights. Tickets will go on sale April 15th, so visit our website (www.detroitupnorth.com) for more details!)

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?

I'd like to hire someone to help with the administrative and record keeping tasks. Over the last year and a half I have started to understand my strengths and weaknesses, and keeping track of the details is a weakness, so I need some help! But also, long term, I'd like to do less of the logistics and event planning, and focus more on the corporate social responsibility aspect of my work. As a native Detroiter who has worked in nonprofits and politics, I believe there is a lot of opportunity for businesses and corporations to form meaningful partnerships with community organizations and charities for the benefit of all. I like big ideas and creative partnerships. I'm looking forward to having more time to develop that component and guiding a team through executing the vision.