April 25, 2019

She turned an ad hoc community hub into a real space for young people to express their creativity

Detroit entrepreneur Felisha Hatcher launched Ec3 Lab: For Young Creatives to encourage kids explore, discover, and fuel their imaginations.

Ec3 Lab: For Young Creatives engages youth in Detroit to explore their creative sides in a nurturing environment. Photo courtesy of Ec3 Lab

It’s funny whenever we’re asked, “how did you come up with the idea for Ec3 Lab?”, in truth, it was Ec3 Lab that actually found me.

Around 2003, my husband and I were running a local barbershop-slash-unofficial community hub. The space had become a neighborhood fixture and often served as a gathering space for the community. We would host meetups and social events that brought in all ages and backgrounds. No two days were the same and we loved it. The best part of our days was often spent with the neighborhood kids who would hang out and strike up the most amazing conversations.

We would hear stories about the latest trends and music. They would share dreams of making it into the NBA, and becoming doctors and lawyers. We listened to their goals of futures as skateboarders, artists, or songwriters, and their dreams of careers that were only limited by their imaginations. They also shared stories that sometimes shook us at our core.

We heard stories of struggles in flawed school systems that had failed them too many times to count. They told us about their pressure to stay focused, along with their struggle to stay motivated.

The more they talked, the more we committed to listening. We gave them space to find their voices. Uncensored. Uninterrupted. Unbiased. They were amazing storytellers that only needed a community that make the time to listen.

The more they talked, the more we committed to listening. We gave them space to find their voices.

During that time we also learned about ourselves and how as a community we were failing them. What were we going to do to help?

It was during this time our daughter had the idea to form a club where girls would meet up, hang out, and enjoy new learning experiences. Her idea had begun to take off and we knew that we were on to something.

After receiving local media coverage and contemplating how to expand the reach to include boys, with our daughter’s blessings, we formed Ec3 Lab: For Young Creatives.

We knew we wanted to create an organization where kids would be supported from the inside out. We wanted to give them a space to explore, discover, and fuel their imagination and creativity.

Ec3 Lab: For Young Creatives (the name was coined by my daughter) hit the ground running.

We created a social and cultural incubator with Love as the foundational principle of the business plan. We adopted a “learn-by-doing” educational model. We believed that by creating programming that infuses the arts, culture, and entrepreneurship into creative and service-based projects, kids would broaden their understanding and sense of community.

We planned activities that would spark minds and imaginations through play while tapping into their creative abilities. We focused on mindfulness while putting classroom theories into practice using real-life experiences. We partnered with community thought leaders, educators, and corporate partners; it was through these shared experiences that we felt we could bridge the gaps in opportunities we saw in our neighborhood.

The concept was working and we garnered the community support that was needed

Since 2012, Ec3 Lab has participated and become a regular in countless events, such as Midtown’s Annual Noel Night with over 40,000 attendees and Detroit Design Festival’s Annual Youth Day where kids got to explore the world of art and design. We’ve hosted community dinners with the Darden Group as venue sponsors, maker-labs with the Detroit Public Library, and creative learning sessions with the historic Eastern Market. We even partnered with Wayne County Community College for the first-ever “Dream Big” Conference for youth!

Looking forward, we will continue to explore methods that capture the imagination with interactive learning experiences that include gamification, blockchain technology education, the launch of our TedEd Club, and our summer learning labs.

The last 10 years have been a truly amazing journey that impacted lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We look forward to many more years of serving.

Reach out and say hello@ec3lab.com!

Felisha Hatcher

Ec3 Lab

Felisha A. Hatcher is a social entrepreneur, youth advocate, and human investor. She is the mastermind behind Ec3 Lab: For Young Creatives, a social and cultural incubator created to challenge the way children are educated. With a passion for serving, this native Detroiter is committed to giving back to a community that helped raised her. With over 1,000 service hours, she’s worked on countless projects including Tedx Detroit, Van Dusen Leadership Forum, Detroit Public Library, Wayne County Community College, Detroit Public Schools, Michigan Foster Care Review Board, Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, The Better Argument Project, and radio and TV production. She's also served on numerous school boards, panels, and committees.

After years of helping to develop projects behind the scenes, Felisha now pours that same work and dedication into her passion projects, Ec3 Lab & Co.ology, a co-work and creative space for the DIY entrepreneur.

The mother of two resides in Saint Clair Shores with her husband where she’s currently penning a guide for entrepreneurs.