It began with a better way to make a bracelet. Now, with The Friendship Factory, it's a place for tweens to hang out, build community and, of course, craft.
Set in Clinton Township's The Mall at Partridge Creek, this new family store/workshop bustles with irresistible projects for kids ages 6-14. Think bright-colored barrettes, plastic lanyards and lots of wrist wearables, including a popular product you've probably seen at big boxes: My Friendship Bracelet Maker. It's sold worldwide, but was invented in Macomb County by David Crorey. In fact, you'll often find him at the store with his two granddaughters and their mom, Julie Karwowicz (yep: she is Crorey's daughter).
"That's what we're all about. It's Michigan based," Karwowicz says. Plus, having girls ages 14 and 11, "There was definitely a need for them for something to do. We wanted a place where they could go and create."
And TFF delivers just that.
Its "craft bar" is nestled in a cozy space with sparkly tile floors and fancy floral wall molding. Visiting girls (and boys!) get a punch card with beginner, intermediate and advanced options for four crafts. Each project is $6. Once kids tackle all 12, they earn a coupon for a free session and tote bag. If they get hooked, every craft kit is for sale on-site (about $14.99-$29.99).
Parties are all about pals and DIY, too. Glitter tattoos and karaoke are paired with a special craft: After a photo shoot, each child gets a bracelet with cube-shaped charms that have pix of every attendee, made with the My Image Bracelet Maker.
The factory even hosts weekly friendship workshops. Held 7-9 p.m. Fridays, a skilled licensed therapist gives kids positive tools to deal with serious stuff like bullying and social media – plus crafty fun, like indoor (fake!) snowball fights. "The parents are happy because (children are) getting this great message," Karwowicz says. "The kids are having a blast." Some classes even mix the two, like mother-daughter teas and "Momology," which offers guidance to moms of tweens/teens. Class costs are typically $25.
What's next? Franchising, Karwowicz says – and "to actually create a local factory" to churn out its 17 unique offerings right here at home.