From fashion shows to special sales, the clothing shop shares proceeds with those in need and helps foster a philanthropic community.
By Ashley Zlatopolsky
Photography by Jenna Belevender
It started as a building in poor condition with 40 years of clutter that had to be sorted.
“Nobody wanted it,” says Tenacity Boutique co-owner Genise Horsley, a Milford resident. When she purchased the downtown Milford space with her husband, Eric Horsley, in 2013, they weren’t sure what to do with it. “Nothing felt like the right idea,” she says.
But then the name Tenacity — which means “with a firm grip or purpose” — came to mind, and the concept for a store that specializes in accessories, gifts and home goods made by brands that give back was born. By August 2017, Tenacity opened its doors.
In the neighborhood, Tenacity has a distinct presence. It’s more than just a shop — it’s an avenue for Milford residents and beyond to do good for their neighbors and give back to those in need. Throughout the year, the Horsleys spearhead an array of donations, events and shopping initiatives to raise money for local organizations.
Their biggest priority: empowering women to escape sex trafficking. “We have a passion for those who are caught in the throes of sex trafficking and addiction,” Genise says. “They often go hand in hand.” After being introduced to the Pontiac-based nonprofit Hope Against Trafficking, which is run by local women, the Horsleys found a charitable partner.
“When we decided that (sex trafficking victims) were what we wanted to support with this store, we wanted to donate as much as possible to this local charity,” Genise continues.
Events like garage sales and fashion shows give 100 percent of revenue to Hope Against Trafficking. Just for coming in and trying on a pair of pants, the shop also recently donated $2 per person to Grace Centers of Hope, a Pontiac-based organization that offers drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.
Although Tenacity is a for-profit store, the Horsleys say everyone can always find a way to do good through their work. “You have a responsibility to the community,” Eric says. “It’s not always about making money.”
The Horsleys are no stranger to giving back. In 2016 they began the community event Give Back Friday — a twist on a traditional Black Friday sale where proceeds went to Grace Centers of Hope. It launched at The Clothing Cove, Tenacity’s sister store next door. “It started out as our store asking customers, staff and vendors to donate merchandise to sell,” Genise explains. “We would give money to charity and (also) a portion of our proceeds.”
A few months before the event, Genise thought, “Wouldn’t it be fabulous if other merchants in town would want to do this with us?” They then asked shop owners to participate in their idea. Their first year of holding Give Back Friday, 21 stores joined.
“We said, ‘You don’t have to join our charity — it can be a charity that’s near and dear to your heart,’” she recalls. “All the shoppers had different options of where to shop where they knew their dollars were being used charitably. It made them feel good about shopping.”
For the first Give Back Friday, “Milford came out in force to support,” Genise remembers. “We just went, ‘This is what we want to do with Tenacity.’ ”
At Tenacity, the concept of giving back is at the forefront of the shop. Even the brands carried are philanthropic: Mend on the Move, handcrafted jewelry made in Pontiac, helps women who have survived abuse. Nashville-based Thistle Farms sells bath and body products made by women who have escaped sex trafficking, and it offers housing and for survivors. “We buy from a lot of vendors who support or help empower women and their families,” Genise says. “Some of the criteria is that we support the U.S., and we want to support local. We also want to help support eco-friendly (brands) and vendors who support charity.”
Shoppers like that their dollars give back, Genise adds. “Why not shop somewhere where your money helps local people?”
420 N. Main St., Milford