The Hidden Treasure of Wilton Manors
11 months ago Nicholas Rodriguez 0
Located in the heart of Wilton Manors, Eucalyptus Gardens is host to a local marketplace that has become a female dominated landscape and a hub for women empowerment.
This three acres of land is home to three permanent restaurants, the Alchemist, Voo la Voo Café and Something to Taco About. There is an outdoor area with a number of rotating vendors and an indoor location called Lola’s Market with 10 vendors.
The man who makes this all possible is landlord Evan Andrews who’s on a mission to empower females in the business arena.
“It’s just amazing that he believes in the people that he works with and he wants to help in any kind of way. He’s helped me so much,” said local business owner, Kiki Davis of Kiki’s Kinis.
Davis is a 21-year-old vendor whose been at Eucalyptus Gardens for about seven months. The young entrepreneur was able to quickly turn around her home-made bikini business into a full time job all within the span of a year.
Another vendor, Claudia Negreira is the owner of Claudia’s Crafts. Andrews took her business from the confines of social media and brought her crafts to the marketplace just one month ago.
Negreira is a stay at home mom who originally started her business as a way to keep busy. She took a $75 loan from her husband and turned it into a profitable venture.
“I want females to know they can do this themselves. It wasn’t easy, it was a lot of hard work, but it can happen,” said Negreira.
Business owner, Marisa Folz of the Wander Shop is another example of the hard work Negreira speaks of. According to Evans, Folz came to her with no money to rent her space, Evans allowed her to come on site for free for a day as a pop up shop and a month later she was able to purchase an airstream and convert it into one of the most popular shops at Eucalyptus Gardens.
As proud as Andrews is about his mission, he wants to keep it under wrap though and doesn’t boast about his goal to the vendors.
“They’re empowering themselves. I’m just providing a platform. I am providing a milk carton for them to stand on. That’s all I am doing,” said Evans.
When Andrews opened his marketplace in 2004 his initial mission wasn’t female empowerment. His original plan for Eucalyptus Gardens, which used to be a nursery that sold garden stone and pots, was to “do something that was more people friendly and where the community could have a place that wasn’t all new brick and mortar,” he said. [Something that] had charm. [That] was able to breathe.”
The idea to help out female business owners happened as a result of the changing landscape, according to Andrews.
“I felt it was a time that both genders began to respect each other in the workplace and not have to do it through suing each or bringing people to court,” he said.
Currently, rent spaces can vary from $75 for an outside vendor to $500 monthly for some of the permanent restaurant fixtures.
Eucalyptus Gardens also hosts several murals most of which are painted by females.
Businesses owners at Eucalyptus Gardens are 80% female. Financially, Andrews is less concerned about making money and more about making a statement.
“It’s not financially profitable but its soulfully beyond profit,” he said. “I don’t need to drive a Bentley. I can drive my old jeep. I don’t need Gucci underwear. I can wear Marshalls. I don’t need those extra things to make me feel that I’m successful and I’d rather put that money back into the business.
Eucalyptus Gardens is located at 2430 NE 13th Ave, Wilton Manors, FL 33305