Updated: Mar 18, 2022
By Ivonne Velasquez, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Strivers’ Row – my neighborhood. Not only is it picture perfect with its brick and limestone facades and refuse-free curb appeal, it is also brimming with businesses run and operated by WOMEN. It’s a magical place where the divine feminine is at the helm of entrepreneurship and community.
Many of the services one would need on a daily basis are offered within this two-block stretch of historic St. Nicholas District. It’s only fitting that for Women’s History Month I pay homage to my neighbors who are making history: the women of Strivers’.
Aliyyah & Jo-Ann Baylor
One hundred yards from my front door, I can grab my morning coffee and a slice of heaven from the iconic Make My Cake where mother and daughter owners Aliyyah & Jo-Ann Baylor have been delivering the goodies for over two decades.
Their German chocolate cake throw down against Iron Chef Bobby Flay has gained them worldwide recognition, but their consistency across the board has made them legendary. I can shamefully admit that many mornings I have chosen to walk in their direction when I should be headed in the opposite just to inhale whatever treasure is baking.
After my caffeine fix I pop in a couple of doors over to Sudsy Water where LaChena Clark and her friendly staff handle my laundry needs from dry cleaning to wash and fold. The turnaround is quick and my garments are always crisp and clean. In addition to laundry, LaChena also owns Mia’s Bathhouse, a self-service dog wash just a few blocks away.
I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to having my nails done, but when I do decide to sit still and get a fresh mani, I don’t have to go far. Lisa Logan of The Nail Suite is the nail tech to the stars. Her clients include Taraji P. Henson, Queen Latifah, and yes, darling…the Queen Bey! As many celeb claws that she has handled, Lisa’s fame comes from being a true Harlemite and making all her customers feel like superstars.
It is too easy to come up with excuses for not working out. However, it shouldn’t be when it’s right around the corner, warm, inviting, and actually fun! Tammeca Rochester and her team of instructors know how to get your pulse up at Harlem Cycle. This boutique cycling studio offers a range of workouts that are sure to fit your style while the playlists keep you moving.
Tammeca is constantly thinking of new ways to collaborate with the other women of Strivers to improve exposure and health awareness while creating a camaraderie of sisterhood.
I can’t speak for you, but after a workout, my body wants chocolate! Seriously; I pour my all into my workout, so a piece of chocolate does Vonnie good. Luckily, I can skip across 7th Avenue to Harlem Chocolate Factory where I can easily spend 15-20 minutes pondering which of the mood-altering morsels to choose.
Owner, chocolatier, and Harlem-grown Jessica Spaulding’s unique spin on her artisan creations have gained her major street cred in the chocolate and culinary scene. My top picks? Everything that has chocolate.
Justine & Juliet Masters
More than often my days end late and the last thing I want to do is cook. Thanks to the wonder twins Justine and Juliet Masters of The Edge, I don’t have to. These ladies have created a space to commune and enjoy tasty dishes influenced by their Jamaican roots. I can enjoy live music, take in the works of local artists, and enjoy a hearty meal a stone’s throw from home. The “No Wi-Fi, No Laptops” rule makes it all the better to truly connect.
Beloved actor and activist Ruby Dee lived in the Strivers’ Row enclave, and she once said, “We woman have a function to perform; the world needs us.” Yes, the world does, so perform we shall. I am inspired daily by the dedication and performance of my neighbors – the women of Strivers’.
Come to Striver's Row for a visit. You may just want to stay!