Pingree Detroit manufactures first sneakers in city's history

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Pingree is a new shoe company in Detroit - manufacturing the first sneakers in the city's history launching them with a little help from Mayor Mike Duggan.
But this story's not just about the product - it's about the employees. Laboring in the basement of an old bank on Woodward Avenue with a big American flag on the wall, Nate Crawford handcrafts a pair of sneakers and calls it a labor of love.

"Every time I think about it, I get geeked about it," he said. "I get smiles and chills."

Crawford is a lifelong Detroiter, an Air Force veteran - and formerly homeless - now learning a skill and producing a product he can take pride in.

"Making something in the city is beautiful," Crawford said. "Especially with something that's reflecting of the city with the auto industry."

All of the leather used in the products at Pingree Detroit - is from the carmakers.

"All of our leather is upcycled, really special," said Crawford.

Not just shoes but beautiful bags.

"This machine - you can pick up where you left off," said Rayne Rose.

Rayne Rose is another Detroiter - she's one of the seven employees at Pingree. She's not a veteran but three of the employees are which is part of the company's mission.

It is named after the former Detroit Mayor Hazen Pingree - known for progressive social reform. He was also a shoemaker, and veteran of the Civil War.

And Tuesday the current mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan paid them a visit. He learned the process and lacing up the first pair of sneakers - fittingly called "The Mayor."

The first pair of mayors being tied by the mayor. Hopefully there's a lot more

They are online now and the first batch is already sold out. 

"I hope Pingree shoes is enormously successful and I have to help them find larger quarters," said Crawford. "We do have to get back to making things in Detroit."

Which is part of the beauty of Pingree, making things like each bag that takes hours, each pair of shoes that takes a whole day.  

"It's a lot of work to make something, but we think we're making something that is a very high quality and is unique and reflects the spirit of the city it's made in," said Kaleb Fulk, VP of marketing and co-owner.

It's not just shoes but bags and wristlets. The holidays are upon us and these could make great gifts, click here for more information.