inspirational story

CEO of Award-Winning Advertising and Detroit Advocate

If you were wondering who is responsible for most of the outdoor advertisement, which includes (digital) bulletins, bike shares, wallscapes, hand-painted murals, the People Mover and bus shelters in downtown Detroit, here’s your chance to find out. Candice Simons is the founder of the award winning advertising agency, Brooklyn Outdoor, lifestyle blog, J’adore Detroit, and host of the creative space, The Loft, for Detroit natives and transplants. Brooklyn Outdoor offers the only digital video spectacular in the D at the TCF center. Candice reminds us that there’s no place like home and the resilient local artists and talents in our city. Read on in our interview with Candice below to get all the details about OOH and more!

Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to create Brooklyn Outdoor Advertising and J’adore Detroit.

After 10 years of working in outdoor advertising in Chicago, I felt a calling to come back to Detroit. I noticed there wasn’t any independent out-of-home representation in Detroit. I knew that by coming back to the city and making it the headquarters of Brooklyn Outdoor, that I could provide a fresh energetic take on the OOH that wasn’t offered here. Some people thought I was crazy to start a business here in the middle of a recession. But here we are nearly 10 years later with a small female advertising army leading the way.

My adoration for Detroit was the inspiration behind, j’adore Detroit. J’adore Detroit is an insider’s guide to the city, shared with readers through a curation of content that covers entertainment, style, wellness, and more. I wanted j’adore Detroit to be an outlet in the community that reflects the things I feel connected to– good causes, local innovators, authentic culture, and entrepreneurs on a mission to make Detroit vibrant and vital. 

Through j’adore Detroit, I wanted to create a space where my eclectic taste and desire to inspire connections could come together. From that desire, “The Loft” was born. The Loft at j’adore Detroit is unlike any other space in the city. It’s an industrial-meets-chic venue in the heart of Detroit’s historic Eastern Market offers a panoramic view of the surrounding city and a unique aesthetic crafted by local Detroit artists and yours truly.

Give us an overview of where we have seen your company’s work. What innovations have you made in outdoor advertisement?

Thanks for asking! We have a large footprint in Detroit. Some of our most recognizable work is displayed on the TCF center screen located on the corner of Washington Blvd. + W. Congress St. Recently we did an ad for Big Sean’s Detroit 2 album on TCF. It’s always fun when we get to show some hometown love.

Throughout the last year, Brooklyn Outdoor has been partnering with the Detroit Department of Transportation to install 59 new bus shelters throughout the city. As a Detroiter, I don’t have to tell you that a lot of our bus shelters have been in some rough shape. Through this buildout we’ve been able to increase the safety of the public transit system and improve its infrastructure. Each bus shelter is equipped with 24/7 illumination that is powered by solar panels, and each unit has USB charging docs.

By adding advertising panels onto the shelters, we were able to create a brand-new stream of revenue for the city to help sustain the public transit system.

We also place ads on the MoGo bike share panels, which creates a nice opportunity for local businesses to tap into OOH with smaller formats. We are also one of the founding sponsors of Murals in the Market which is so cool!

What is unique about outdoor advertisement in Detroit?

I don’t have to tell you that Detroit has some truly talented and amazing artists! What is so great about having a billboard company in Detroit, is that we can tap into those local talents and hire them to work on projects with these huge national brands.

For example, one really cool campaign we worked on was for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. It was a hand-painted mural campaign that featured the character Crazy Eyes. For the campaign we hired the very talented and local artist Michelle Tanguay to complete the mural. It turned out SO great!

Why was it important for you to create a space in Detroit’s historic Eastern market?

I wanted to create a space where people could connect in real life. Social media is super popular right now, but so many of those connections stop when you stop scrolling, liking, and commenting. Having this beautiful event space in Eastern Market allows us to take the URL to IRL and foster real connections and human interaction.

Having the space be located in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market is so great. The market is so deeply ingrained in Detroit’s history and it gives people a place where they can have an authentic experience in the city.

What are three words that describe the community you’ve cultivated?

Connected. Authentic. Fun.

What is or was your greatest challenge and what is your biggest accomplishment or strength?

One of my greatest challenges was presented this year with COVID-19. We have a small team, which means we are close like family. I’m not only responsible for the well-being of my business, but also the well-being of my staff. Each and every one of us has a family and other people who count on us financially. I worked really hard throughout the pandemic to secure new business acquisitions and grants to make sure everyone stayed employed throughout the pandemic.

What is the beauty of Detroit to you?

The beauty of Detroit lies within its people. Even in tough times, when it seems like the world has turned its back on Detroit, the people here persevere. The city has this industrious background that has given the people here grit and backbones of steel. 

I’ve traveled to many different places, but I’ve never been to a place where the people feel so connected and proud of their city.

Be it that we are celebrating Women’s History Month, think of a woman that inspires you. What would you like to share with her about the impact she has had on your life?

Oh boy! Where do I start? I am SO lucky to be surrounded by a fierce gang of women that inspire me on a daily basis. To name drop a few:

Anna Mayes @thelipstickjourney

Jenn Lee @chaletdrive

Samantha Schmuck @revived_living

Ramona Bizon @aesthetics_by_ramona

Ursula Mullen @ursula.mullen

Jonnelle Boyd @jonnellebird

Candace Mary Interiors @candacemaryinteriors

Lauren Van Haaren @latelywithlo
But, if I had to pick an all-time woman who I admire, it would be my girl Sophia Amoruso, the OG of girl bosses. She is such an inspiration to women in business. She was named one of Forbes richest self-made women by Forbes and definitely knows how to pivot in business. Walking away and shifting your vision can be a difficult thing to accept as an entrepreneur. She has shown all of us that a setback can be a set up for a comeback and how to lean into that.

Her example is the motivation that we can all live by. Candice, you are a trailblazer in OOH! It was an absolute pleasure having you share your journey and love for Detroit with us! We also love your commitment to local innovators, entrepreneurs, important causes and Detroit culture.

By Tayler Jones

As a 26 year old artist and Detroit native I seek to focus on sharing stories of the innovative and resilient people in our city and not its negative criticism. Therefore, to over accentuate the good and support local businesses, our gift boxes are a gateway to the artisans, craft makers and doers in the city. This blog is in honor of them and the great things happening in our community!

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