Proven Kitchen and Bath Studio was overflowing on June 15 as owner Cassandra Provenzola and her staff hosted a grand re-opening event, complete with champagne and delicious local edibles. Proven opened its doors in November 2018, but Michigan’s winter weather doesn’t lend itself to the kind of welcoming, open-door event Cassandra had in mind for her customers. And though Dexter hasn’t yet experienced much true summer weather, Saturday’s mild temperature and dry skies allowed the public to experience Proven as it is meant to be – a warm, open and inviting environment designed to inspire.
Four years ago, Cassandra started Proven as a side job due to many requests from friends and family to renovate kitchens and bathrooms in their homes. Client referrals poured in, and six months ago she made the decision to leave her Northville interior design job of 11 years to open a brick and mortar shop closer to home in Dexter. The store displays samples of almost every finish and hardware option available for kitchen and bath, as well as a boutique section featuring local artisans and handmade items.
Local resident Carol Durnwald came into Proven one wintry day in November, before the shop had even opened its doors, looking for Christmas presents and to discuss redesigns for her kitchen and two bathrooms. Working closely with Cassandra during her renovations, Carol fell in love with Proven’s vision and the unique style and positive energy Cassandra brings to all of her projects. Thus, Cassandra’s first in-store client also became an employee, as Carol started working in the shop at the end of April.
Kaley German, a friend of the Provenzola family, also works part time at Proven. Connecting with Cassandra through Proven’s Facebook page, Kaley was looking to work with someone who truly loves what they do, which describes Cassandra perfectly. Both Kaley and Carol agree that working with Cassandra is not only fun, but meaningful as she values their opinions in the day-to-day operations of the business.
Cassandra’s love of design and passion for her clients shows through in every step of the renovation process. “I really get to know my clients and am very passionate about people’s homes,” she says. “Each client is unique and together we work to create the perfect fit using the right materials for their home. We are not ‘one size fits all.’ Our projects are fully planned out from the beginning which allows the client to be more educated and involved. There is a clear vision agreed upon with a complete dollars and cents estimate before any papers are signed by the client.”
“Other construction companies say they are designers, but in reality, they are builders first,” she continues. The same team takes the client through what Cassandra calls a ‘cradle to grave’ construction process. “The details are so important,” she says, “and often there’s a disconnect between designers and builders that can show up in those small details – for example, the way the crown molding is installed or how cabinets are joined.” And as Cassandra is a state-licensed builder in addition to having a degree in interior design, Proven’s clients receive the best of both worlds.
Proven has six construction teams that Cassandra has personally worked with, on average, for 10 years. It is important to her that clients see the same faces in their homes during the weeks of their renovation project. Her construction teams are solely focused on interior renovations and as such are clean and organized in the client’s home. Cassandra has daily communication with each team and visits the home personally at least once a week and whenever needed during the course of the project. “It’s a push and pull relationship,” she says of the collaboration between herself and her teams. “We each make the other better – they make me a better designer and I make them better builders.”
While preparing to open her shop, located at 3219 Broad St., Cassandra admits she was apprehensive about how Dexter would receive this kind of business. But the community welcomed her with open arms, which is exactly how she describes the town itself. “Dexter’s like a hug,” she says with a smile.
And she plans to give back to the community that has embraced her and her business. “For every job we do, we put away a percentage of our fee to give back to the community. Our goal is to promote safety in the home – smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other items that will increase the safety of a person’s home. We are looking to partner with a local non-profit that will support our mission within their mission.”
Proven’s mission is, “to create, supply, and build dynamic spaces that are as unique as the client while lifting our employees and community.” Cassandra lives that mission of supporting the community by offering locally-made and ethically-sourced items in the boutique portion of her shop. Everything is hand-picked by Cassandra and her staff with the intention of inspiring customers while supporting local artists and businesses. “These are all of our favorite things,” she says.
Proven customers can find handmade goat milk soaps or an exclusively formulated mud mask from FarmSudz (Chelsea), hand-poured candles from Bookend Candle Co. (Ypsilanti), lotions from Tiani Body Care (Chelsea) or “Drunk’n Mosquito” bug spray from Green Gate Soy Co. (Chelsea). Paintings and woodcarvings from local artist Lee Rossiter (Pinckney), folk art by Margaret Shaw (Manchester) and hand-carved wooden bowls from the Holland Bowl Mill (the oldest bowl factory in the US) are also available in the boutique. “We try to keep everything as local as possible; if it can’t be local, then it must at least be handmade.”
The homey atmosphere Cassandra has created at Proven welcomes customers in and engages them as soon as they walk in the door. Her friendly staff is always ready to assist clients in any way necessary, whether it be suggesting gift ideas or helping to choose a new bathroom faucet.
Proven’s hours are Monday 10-5, Tuesday 10-5, Wednesday 10-7, Thursday 10-5, Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-4 and Sundays by appointment only.