Encinitas4Equality, a new North County-based nonprofit, announced Monday it has officially opened its doors as a community gathering space and retail showcase for Black artists and businesses.
Mali Woods-Drake, co-founder of the nonprofit, and her team envisioned a space that would invite dialogue and discussion about social justice and offer an opportunity for Black businesses to have a home base in Encinitas.
"The community space and Black collective is furthering the mission to mobilize this community in allyship with our Black neighbors," Woods-Drake said. "We quickly recognized that there were no Black businesses in Encinitas and very few in North County. Now, 13 Black vendors have a home and a range of services provided by Black entrepreneurs are highlighted throughout San Diego."
Located at 414 Coast Highway, Encinitas4Equality was funded via a matching gift from a donor, a GoFundMe campaign and an offer from the leaseholder of Gather Yoga, all of which have made it possible for the nonprofit to stay in the space at least until December.
Vendors and artists who now have a brick-and-mortar space to sell their goods and build relationships within the community include Africa Within Me, Aya Raw Foods, B is for Black Girl, Collective 108, Creative Designsz, Elenex Brand, Eunique Deeann, Healthy On You, Ivory Essentials, Joel Harper, Kind Humans, Lili K Kouture, Phorgery Metalwerk, Poetic Artistry, Salty.Sol, SeeNicRun, Sunny and Cheer, and Lawrence Caroll.
Amber Baker, creator of Collective 108, a natural skincare product line, is one of the Black business owners selling their products rent-free at the studio.
Baker was shocked by pushback she encountered at a June demonstration calling for racial justice and equality, and she doesn't think she was the only one.
“I think it took a lot of people back, like, 'Oh my gosh, that’s here. Wait, let’s do something,'” said Baker.
Samantha Binkley created Healthy On You, an organic spice blend line.
“They’re here to sort of give us this space to show our products and be represented in this community,” said Binkley.
According to Woods-Drake, the nonprofit "is composed of a diverse group of local residents that share a commitment to racial and social justice in Encinitas and the surrounding areas, with a passion and energy to engage in deep, challenging and long-term equity work."
"After George Floyd died, something gave way. Night after night, we protested peacefully at the Cardiff Kook and night after night, our group kept growing," she said. "Everyone was asking for direction. Out of that passion and energy, Encinitas4Equailty was born."
Woods-Drake said the nonprofit -- through collaboration with private, public and governmental partners -- wants to ensure that racial demographics are no longer a predictor of health, educational attainment, wealth and other indicators of well-being in the North County area.
The collective is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. It is closed on Mondays and Fridays.