A sign in downtown Encinitas. File photo

Encinitas4Equality, a new North County-based grassroots nonprofit, officially opened its doors last week to create a safe gathering space and retail showcase for black individuals and businesses.

Mali Woods-Drake, co-founder of E4E, and her team envisioned a space that would invite raw dialogue and discussion about social justice and offer an opportunity for black businesses to have a home in Encinitas.

“The community space and Black Collective is furthering the mission to mobilize this community in allyship with our black neighbors. 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,” Woods-Drake said.

Located at 414 Coast Highway in Encinitas, E4E has the opportunity to bring diversity to North County. A matching gift from a generous donor, a strong GoFundMe campaign, and a kind offer from the leaseholder of Gather Yoga has made it possible for E4E to stay in this space at least until at least 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
  • Lawrence Caroll

Encinitas4Equality is composed of a diverse group of 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,” Woods-Drake said. “Everyone was asking for direction. Out of that passion and energy, Encinitas4Equailty was born.”

Through collaboration with private, public, and governmental partners, E4E 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.

“We have working groups that are addressing allyship, inclusive housing, local police reimagination, youth advocacy, and business partnerships here in Encinitas and our neighboring cities. While the country may feel divided, we are bringing people together to make a real, sustainable, and equitable change in our community,” Woods-Drake said.

Building on its long-term vision E4E envisions a more just world in which all people have the opportunity to fully participate in their communities, sharing information and resources in reciprocal, decentralized ways, and working together for peace and justice on a healthy planet. And E4E’s community gathering space and Black Collective is part of that vision.

The collective is now open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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