Daviant “Dae” Palmer carefully inspects every inch of a dark blue Chevrolet Silverado, scrubbing away any imperfections. His mother, Typhany Jones, trails behind him, phone in hand.
Palmer, 27, from Detroit, is the founder of Dae’s Detail at 8141 Gratiot Ave. When people have their vehicle cleaned at his business, he wants people to leave saying “it looks better than when I bought it”.
Palmer has been a fan of cars since he was 3 years old, Jones said. With his wife’s encouragement, Palmer quit his cable installation job in April 2020 and went into car detailing in August of that year. His mother, a marketing professional, decided to start posting videos of the cleaning techniques her son was using. She quit her marketing job and took on the marketing role for Dae’s Detail.
After posting six or seven videos, the son and mother duo have become a viral sensation, earning over 238,000 subscribers. on TikTok by posting tips and tricks on how interested people can clean car interiors and exteriors. Their most popular video reached 16 million views, and audiences came from places as far away as Australia and Ireland.
“They are so far and still rooting for him. It was huge for me and I was blown away by it,” said Jones, 45, of Detroit. Viewers reached out to tell Palmer that he also inspired them to start their own business. “He even inspired me a bit.”
Social media success translated into actual customers, and the duo haven’t looked back.
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“It definitely changed my life,” Palmer said. “I learned a lot about business because I had no idea. It was something I wanted to do, I just didn’t know how to do it and then I was thrown into it.
The company released a video in which it had to cut a slinky into the ceiling of a vehicle. Other finds in vehicles are starting to become the norm, like chicken nuggets and gravy on the seats, milk and cereal in cup holders, and open food bags on the floor.
It took time to launch the business because the demand was so high. They had to quickly create a website to track reservations as many calls were coming in.
Dae’s Detail is intended to be a judgment-free zone. Detroiter Shanna Shepherd, 42, worked remotely from the store lobby recently while waiting for her car to be detailed. She said her car was disgusting.
“I have two messy boys, one is 8, the other is 10, and the back of my seat is awkward, as are the cup holders, so he definitely needs some help,” Shepherd said. . “I’m paying too much for a car to look like this.”
Shepherd knows Jones, she said, but following Dae’s details on TikTok is what finally convinced her to do so.
“Having so much on your plate as a worker and a mother, (having a clean car is) one less thing I have to worry about,” she said.
Services can include full interior and exterior cleaning, as well as interior UV protectant and exterior wax. The price depends on the size of the vehicle and can vary from $145 to $185. There’s also a quick check-in and check-out service that includes a car wash and vacuum starting at $45. He wants his customers to know that every stain might not come out, noting that some children can leave a vehicle with permanent marks.
Since spring is coming, retail reservations are coming in fast for March and April.
Palmer started the business in his driveway, cleaning his friends’ cars because he liked it. One day his mother picked up the phone and started filming, not thinking anything would come of it.
A few viral videos changed their lives.
Jones did a TikTok of Palmer detailing a few cars that showed a before and after of the cleaning process. As a joke, in a video, she transformed a Cadillac into a Porsche. She posted the transition video while Palmer was on honeymoon after getting married. That morning, Palmer woke up and his video had over 3 million views.
“He’s calling me from his honeymoon like, ‘Mom, everybody’s calling me. My phone keeps ringing,'” Jones said. “That’s what started doing business really, really good.”
Running the business from Palmer’s driveway was getting too hectic for neighbors watching vehicles line up their street to get cleaned. Their income has increased by about 70%. The family bought a building last October, which was previously Singleton Cleaners, a former black-owned dry cleaner. Palmer shares the space with his father, Kenya Jones, who operates Rubin’s Plumbing.
Palmer also secured sponsorship with Turtle Wax, an Illinois-based car care company that has been in business since 1944.
A family matter
Palmer was able to quit his job, and his mother too. They now work full-time for the retail business, with Palmer being the owner, Jones as marketing manager and Stevon Ferrell, his uncle, as a partner in the business.
Ferrell said he had been in the retail industry for 15 years and jumped on the Dae’s Detail bandwagon in May 2021 once he saw his nephew’s success. They trade pointers frequently, Ferrell said.
“Most of the time (working with family) goes the other way, but it’s been a good experience,” he said.
“It’s always been a dream to do something like this and it’s great to have people working with me — people I know and people I can trust,” Palmer said.
The family hopes to open more locations in and out of state in the future. Palmer also wants to recruit more employees in its future locations. But for now, he plans to expand his Detroit site.
“I really want to give back to this community,” Palmer said. “I really wanted to see Detroit go back to what it was then, and I want to contribute to that.”
Contact editor Chanel Stitt on Twitter: @ByChanelStitt. Become a subscriber or offer a subscription.