After 53-year-old Sophia President, aka Mama SunFiyahh, had a near-death experience at age 47, she made some life changes. Her days now include her exploration of herbal remedies. Within the walls of her apothecary shop, she can teach others to do the same.
“I changed my diet, which opened my awareness to plants,” she said. “It evolved from making beauty products into herbs and elements of healing and nature, with fresh food and supplements.”
Lori Konawalik felt a calling, but she wasn’t sure what for, until her husband asked her “If you could do anything, all logistics aside, what would it be?” The answer hit her immediately: “A cool space in the community with a chill vibe, good music and art. A space dedicated to saving lives.”
It was there the idea of Mac Tabby Cat Cafe was born, with a space for pets to find loving homes and human friends to cozy up with a kombucha or a coffee.
These stories and others are what makes Area 15, at 510-516 E. 15th St., more than just an interesting-looking collective with a large mural and colorful storefronts.
If you’ve driven up North Davidson and noticed the shabby chic-style buildings on the route between Uptown and NoDa, you’ve found Area 15.
Since 2002, the small-business incubator has been helping local retailers find space to start or grow in its brightly colored storefronts and winding, creative interior spaces throughout. Stop in here to join a fitness challenge, pick up a plush pig or take a classical drawing class.
Here’s your guide to some of the businesses inside of the ever-evolving Area 15, from when to go, to what to look forward to next:
Licensed professional counselor Amy Williams has a private practice as well as a creative brand named Wanda Petunia. Her therapy practice and brand focus on self-care. “I work with people who want to heal trauma and live a life that they consciously create by removing old wounds and patterns,” Williams said. Her hand-crafted plush pigs, book series and other products work to support her message.
Hours: By appointment.
Abel Jackson is a visual artist who specializes in airbrushing and other media. “I can paint anything on anything,” Jackson said. He has held space at Area 15 since 2011. “Being here affords me the opportunity to do what I love: create great art. Area 15 has given me the rare opportunity to be successful as a professional artist and I am grateful such places exist,” he said.
Hours: Jackson’s schedule varies, but he’s typically in the studio from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. several days a week, and he welcomes visitors. Call or text him to set up an appointment at (704) 449-1548.
Tired of driving in Charlotte’s clogged streets? Want to commute on two wheels, save some dough and help a nonprofit at the same time? Charlotte Re-Cyclery refurbishes and sells donated bikes. Proceeds go toward the nonprofit Trips for Kids Charlotte (TFKC) Earn-A-Bike program.
Fun fact: The bicycle-themed mural on the building was created in 24 hours by 350 members of the community, led by artist Will Puckett under an Arts & Science Council grant.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 1 pm. – 7 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday – closed.
If you’re ready for new ink, check out the shop and see if artists Jeff Davis, Nathan Fish or Mikey Holmes are just the artists you’ve been looking for.
Hours: Open daily from 12 – 7 p.m.; Sundays are by appointment only.
Visit the hand-crafted artisan distillery for some locally made rum, apple pie moonshine or amaretto moonshine. The owners say they are “committed to making the best damn moonshine and spirits you’ll ever enjoy.” Chris Wagner and Rick Lavin have been at Area 15 since December 2015.
Hours: Tours and tastings are offered hourly beginning at 4 p.m., with the last tour starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday thru Saturday. Each tour lasts 45-60 minutes. No reservations required; however, tickets are available via Groupon. Cost: $10 for two people; includes souvenir shot glasses.
Get ready to sweat if you visit Heroic Fitness, a gym that offers personal training, boot camp and fitness challenges that include workouts and nutritional guidance. Check out their clients’ before and after pictures.
Stop in here to relax in the cafe while enjoying a kombucha or coffee, shop local art or visit with cats. The cats are all adoptable; Mac Tabby has found homes for 79 cats and counting since opening in December. It’s best to book cat visits online as space is limited.
Hours: Monday and Tuesday – closed, Wednesday – Saturday 12 p.m- 7 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Book an hour online ($12/person) to guarantee your spot; walk-in visits are 30 minutes ($6) or an hour ($12), based on availability. Monthly memberships are an option as well.
Mark your calendar: Monday night cat yoga, 7:30-9 p.m. every Monday. This includes an hour of yoga with cats and 30 minutes of cuddle time with them after. “You can’t take yourself too seriously with cat yoga because sometimes you’ll have four cats on your mat,” Cat Crew member Kathleen McNamara said. “You’re not here just for yoga, you’re here for the joy of cats.” Cost: $20.
Thursday night paint class, 7:30 p.m. every Thursday. Cost: $35.
Live music with cats, 8 p.m. July 27 and 8 p.m. August 17. Relax, listen to music and hang out with cats. Cost: $12.
Formerly known as Artists Recovery Movement, R Creative Collective is a peer-run nonprofit offering a creative outlet for those in recovery from substance abuse and mental health recovery. They offer yoga and painting classes and workshops.
Offers herbal wisdom in the form of superfoods, herbal remedies, books, teas, tonics, tinctures, spices, salts, soaps and spiritual supplies.
Hours: Sunday – 12 p.m.- 5 p.m. by appointment only, Monday – closed, Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Mark your calendar: “Herbs for resilience” is a class series taught by herbalist Brandon Ruiz. Remaining classes are 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. July 21, August 4, August 11 and August 18. Cost: $30. RSVP via Facebook at least five days in advance.
The Green Bunny is conveniently located next to Heroic Fitness, making it harder to eat doughnuts after a hard workout. It offers prepared meals which can be catered to an individual’s nutritional needs. If Johnson and Wales graduate Ashleigh Easterling looks familiar, it may be that you recognize her from her live cooking demo that she hosts on WBTV each month (or from her spotlight in CharlotteFive). Check out The Green Bunny’s menu, which includes items such as steak and eggs, fish tacos and ground turkey spinach meatballs with zucchini noodles.
Hours: Open Monday – Sunday for pre-order pickups (place your order a day in advance). Pre-ordering is recommended, but you can also stop by Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 – 7 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday by appointment or Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., with single meals offered at their to-go window.
The only classical drawing and painting school in Charlotte is located in Area 15, with classes taught by Mark Anthony Gucciardi, who was trained in Florence. They have tripled their number of students in less than a year. “We are a friendly bunch,” said Pascale Ropert, owner and student.
The program is part time, with hopes to offer a full-time classical drawing and painting curriculum beginning in September 2019. They are applying for certification from the Art Renewal Center as an official classical art school.
Hours: By appointment.
Mark your calendar: Oil painting workshops are offered from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month. Cost: $150. RSVP: email@example.com.
Non-instructed long-pose figure-life drawing sessions are held 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturdays for $15 and 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. for Wednesdays for $10.
An art exhibition event will be held 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. November 3. It will feature teacher and student art; some will be available for purchase. Cost: free.
Coming soon: 15th Street Market. Mark your calendar for their opening day, July 28. The market will have plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine, beer on tap, kombucha on tap and cold-brew coffee on tap. Come hungry: It will offer grab-and-go and healthy snacks, meals from The Green Bunny and fresh produce, with eventual plans for a weekly farmer’s market. Come with your friends: Play ping-pong or other bar games inside or enjoy the patio outside.
“Everything just felt right to open a market in Area 15,” Owner Adam Cozzolino said. “I am really looking forward to serving the community in an area that it is lacking and add to the amazing vibe of this neighborhood.”
Hours: 7 a.m. -11 p.m. beginning July 28th. Breakfast offered: Monday – Friday from 7-10 a.m.; lunch (sandwiches, salads) from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.