DETROIT – It’s one of the most recognizable slogans in Metro Detroit: “Detroit vs. Everybody.”
It was started by a Detroit graduate whose career took him across the country. The man responsible for the multi-million dollar business is changing the way people view Detroit and creating jobs.
Tommey Walker is a Cass Technical High School graduate with a deep-rooted love for his city.
He’s a graphic designer and the man behind one of the most well-known Black-owned businesses in Detroit.
“I was born in the city of Detroit,” Walker recalled. “I grew up right downtown Jefferson.”
To say that he’s passionate about his hometown is an understatement. The Cass Tech grad became a graphic designer and worked as a creative director for several well-known record labels like Def Jam Recordings. He traveled across the country and realized he didn’t like the way Detroit was being represented.
“I say we just don’t complain, contribute. Yes, we have got to talk about the problem, but at what point do we focus on energy to pivot from talking about it to solving it?” Walker asked. “I thought to myself, what can I do to change the narrative to show it by the way as I was actually experiencing?”
That’s when the idea came to him. Back in 2012, Walker created a simple, unmistakable design -- Detroit vs. Everybody.
“It literally just popped in my head,” Walker recalled. “I was living with the actual screen print machine that we purchased, so I went home and I took a few weeks to actually sketch it up and see how I want to deal with it, different ways and made it up and it’s been a snowballing effect ever since.”
Now it’s everywhere. It’s a multi-million dollar business with shirts, hats, hoodies and more -- all made in Detroit and sold around the world.
“We have we have resellers all across the globe,” Walker said. “The message is not mine. The message is ours and it resides in all of us.”
Nearly a decade after he created it, Walker said the brand’s message still holds true, now more than ever.
“I feel as if this because of the versus everybody is the epitome of the underdog mentality,” Walker said. “You either sink or you swim, when that moment comes, and it’s like, and the majority of us swim.”
From being the underdog to a changemaker -- at one point pitted against everybody, but now rising to the occassion -- Walker said it feels good to be contributing to the spirit of Detroit.
“I think that we have created the battle cry for the city of Detroit. This is crying out whenever somebody makes a goal or scores anything cross the line -- ‘Detroit vs. Everybody,’” Walker said. “I just feel grateful to be able to be alive in this space and time. We are creating history.”
Walker said his biggest accomplishment is being able to create jobs in the city -- even during hard times.
You can watch Sandra Ali’s full story in the video above.