SAN FRANCISCO -- Nestled in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District is the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District.
Along 24th Street between Mission Street and Potrero Avenue, you'll find Evolved. The co-founders Thalia Leon and Fernando Ramirez grew up in this neighborhood and now using their love for art to inspire and heal.
It's a district known as the birthplace of the city's mural movement, with a cultural concentration on art and Latino businesses.
"24th Street, there's so many talented artists and so many talented people," Ramirez said. "To 'evolve' is like to try to develop yourself, improve yourself, improve your environment. That's what Evolved means."
Evolved is more than just a clothing store, for the last 4 years, they've been dressing the community with art, to help create a nurturing space for people who looked like them.
Ramirez says he's committed to making sure this district continues a thrive.
Back in the late 90's, a group of long-time organizations and residents wanted to make sure Latino-own businesses had a rich culture and social fabric on 24th Street. The group wanted to make sure the local community responded to their needs too.
"What we've noticed is that there are so many talented and amazing people, and their stories aren't being told," Leon said. "We grew up here and the murals and the connection that we feel when we see our stories on the walls."
Most art pieces inside Evolved are from local artists of color. As artists themselves, Thalia and Fernando like to get creative in keeping their community engaged from hosting art gatherings and events for their community. They admit, it's not easy.
They created a design that says "You're doing great," a simple reminder for them.
"It helps us to keep encouraging [ourselves], to keep going because sometimes it can get kind of hard. "
There's a lack of financial resources for Latino businesses.
A Stanford study found that about 33% of Latino-owned businesses applied for PPP loans, but only 10% of them were approved. On the contrary, white-owned businesses were approved at a higher rate — and had a roughly percentage apply, but 17% were approved.
Thalia and Fernando refused to let this stop them.
They're also helping other Latino-businesses on social media by making sure they have a strong digital footprint to help get more people in their shops
"I grew up here and I've seen all the changes. Being able to still hold a spot here in SF is really important to me. I'm grateful for it," Leon said.
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