Creating things has always been one of Cassie’s favorite pastimes. She loves sewing, making clothes, embroideries, costumes, shoes, notebooks, and so much more. The yearning to make things has become a part of her nature. It was then just right that she earned a degree in manufacturing design engineering at Northwestern University. Throughout her college years, Cassie spent a lot of time working in research labs. When she joined Venture for America, a fellowship program, after graduation, Cassie had to get used to not working with a lab and having a full-time job at a company. Out of all the city options, she chose to come to Detroit because of the community. Knowing that Detroit has a strong entrepreneurial scene, Cassie was instantly attracted to the city that shared her passion for creation.
Like a duck takes to water, Cassie thrived in her new environment. When asked how would she describe Detroit to a friend, Cassie said: “you just have to see it and be here.” The creative energy in Detroit is unparalleled by most cities that the sheer amount of “different businesses and things that are hopping, art and music, the history” are testaments to Detroit’s distinction.
Cassie first joined Build Institute as a contract for Kiva, the microloan branch operated by Build in November 2017. Having worked at a research lab about crowdfunding, she quickly adapted to her role and became involved with the entrepreneurship scene in Detroit. Becoming full time as the Capital Programs Manager really helped Cassie do more of what she loves- talking with people. Her main role is to help people get funding for their business in a non-traditional and community-driven way. Her work has two focuses: Kiva and SOUP. While Kiva is about financial inclusion, SOUP (a Shark Tank-like pitch contest) stresses civic engagement and supporting the community. Through talking with diverse audiences, she gets people in the community to invest and support neighborhood businesses.
To Cassie, social entrepreneurship is "based around intent." “Sometimes it looks obvious- environmental justice, hiring people out of homeless shelters…but it can also be retail—sustainable hiring process. It is more about how the person is going about it and how intentional the process of the business is." At last, when asked to say some words to aspiring social entrepreneurs, Cassie suggested everyone to “go out and meet with other people. If you want to do something, go talk to the people who are doing them. Ask people to meet with you. Something special here is people’s willingness to meet with you just because you are really excited about what they do. Just start doing the work you want to do.”