Three years for any business is an accomplishment, and I never need an additional reason to look at purses, so on Friday I visited Zarkpa’s on Woodward to talk with the owner, Tracy Garley.

Zarkpa’s is located on Woodward north of New Center right across the street of the Detroit International Academy For Young Women and the Little Rock Baptist Church.

If you’ve driven down Woodward, you have probably passed her store at some point.


Her store is filled with fun stylish purses, accessories, West African apparel and leather goods.

Here’s a little history of Zarkpa’s. The business was started by her mother in 2010. When Garley graduated from Michigan State in December of 2012 her parents gave her the store.

While she was in school, she had started investing in the business and was commuting between East Lansing and Inkster to work in the shop.

During that time, she started hosting ladies nights in her apartment and then began renting out a space in the student union for a day to sell purses.

For her 25th birthday she set a goal to move the Inkster store to Detroit.

“I was turning 25 in 2014 and my dad asked what I wanted for my birthday. I told him that I would love to open up a storefront in Detroit on my birthday,” said Garley. “It was something I was talking about. They didn’t know it was going to happen. That was in October, by December we found a location and we signed a lease downtown.”

She spent her first year in Detroit just trying anything. If it worked great, if not she learned from the failure.

After spending 18 months downtown she decided it was not the right fit for her. She closed for a short time while she tried to find a new space.

The current location on Woodward, basically on the border between the Virginia Park and North End neighborhoods, opened in January of 2016.

During our conversation I asked Garley what type of advice she had for people who wanted to start a small business.

“When you are going through a hard time, you still want to keep an engagement with your customers and let them know you are going through things. Because it’s a part of success, it’s not a straight route,” she said. “You’re going to have obstacles and you’re going to have to figure it out and ask for the help when you need it. That’s what I like about Detroit, there is so many resources out here. You just have to ask for help and someone will be willing to help.”


One of the things that Garley has done since the beginning is being involved with different organizations, and began hosting meaningful events for entrepreneurs. By working with other groups she has been able to create a great community.

If you don’t have plans for the rest of the week there are numerous events planned at Zarkpa’s to celebrate being in Detroit for three years.

Wednesday, January 18: Century Partners will be at the store holding a Real Estate 101 information session from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Thursday, January 19: Cooperative Capital Community Investment will be holding an event in the store from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Friday, January 20: there will be a designer hack DIY workshop from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Saturday, January 21: will be the big Three-Year Anniversary Celebration. It starts at 4 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m.

You can R.S.V.P. to all for events right here.

If you want to stop in for yourself, Zarkpa’s is located at 9033 Woodward Avenue Detroit, Michigan 48202

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