Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mitten Designer Proud to Showcase Michigan

Mitten designer proud to showcase Michigan

Royal Oak resident donates portion of proceeds to needy

By Nathan Mueller
Eccentric Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — Christine Chubenko wasn't looking for a new business venture two years ago when she watched local news anchors fawn over a pair of red mittens made for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  But when the Royal Oak resident and entrepreneur saw their excitement, an idea popped into her head. Michigan is known as the “Mitten State” after all, so it only made sense to her that mittens should be made complete with a state map on the palm and select cities identified.

Royal Oak resident Christine Chubenko has designed unique mittens emblazoned with the state map on the palm through her business Mi Map LLC.
 / John Stormzand | Staff Photographer
“We have an amazing state with so many perks, and I wanted to bring awareness to this and I want to help people,” she said.
She started brainstorming the idea in February that year, and by April began the FastTrack New Venture program at TechTown at Wayne State University to help get a firm plan established.
Production of the mittens and her business dubbed Mi Map LLC finally began in December 2011 through New Horizons Rehabilitation Services in Davisburg, which is a nonprofit rehabilitation agency providing services to people with disabilities. It was important for Chubenko to not only find a place in Michigan to make the mittens, but also to be able to help those in need along the way.  

She also has vowed to give 10 percent of the proceeds of her mitten sales to people in need. 
“There are a lot of people who fall through the cracks and that is who I focus on,” she said. “Now matter how much I sell, money is still going to help somebody.”
Designing mittens is not Chubenko's full-time job; she is a web developer by trade, but she has gotten hooked on the idea of promoting Michigan.

She said she also is working on ski apparel, and is brainstorming other ideas to showcase the wine and golf industries that are so popular in the state.

Melanie Boyd, a Sterling Heights resident, bought four pair of the mittens for herself and her daughters for Christmas as part of her effort to only give gifts made in Michigan or the United States.

She said every person she has shown them to looks to see where their cottage is points out where they grew up.

“They are pretty unique, and they are not gaudy and they are something people actually would wear,” Boyd said. “Not to mention they are warm, too.”

Chubenko also is partnering with Hilda Seiler of Bead-a-Bing in Troy to sell Mi Map Bling for the mittens, and with metro Detroit musician Doug Sharrott, who composed “Shakin' Mi Hand” for her website.

The mittens, bling and music can all be purchased on the Mi Map website at Mittens can also be purchased in downtown Royal Oak at Funky 7 and Ariana Gallery.

She said her ultimate goal is to showcase all the state has to offer, and break down the negative stereotypes.

“The truth is all of Michigan is filled with strong, good-hearted people and that is what makes a state, that is what makes an economy and that is what makes you who you are.” | (313) 222-2343 Twitter: @SOKEccentric