He’s an internist. She’s a general dentist. Together, they run the Healthy Bodies Medical and Dental Center in Brandon. The husband-and-wife team, Martha and Watson Ducatel, got their start with help from Millennial Mixer, a regular East Tampa event that brings together millennials and those who want to connect with them.
“It’s really just to connect millennials and to connect other people with millennials,” explains Fort Myers native Ivy Box, Millennial Mixer's founder and curator. “We just want to provide a comfortable atmosphere.”
Millennial Mixer attracts a diverse crowd to its gatherings at 5508 Co-working and Collaboration Exchange, a place where small minority-owned businesses can operate affordably. While there, attendees might munch on finger foods, order drinks at the cash bar, or buy food from food trucks.
The space is donated. Sometimes wine is donated to be sold at the event. So people show up and mingle. Businesses show up and advertise for free.
“It’s a mixed crowd. A majority of businesses are minority owned,” says Box, whose parents migrated to Florida from Haiti for a safer environment and more financial opportunity. “They’re diverse in their background and they’re diverse in their professions.”
The idea developed to make more people aware of the exchange run by Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan Inc. and Coastal Bay Properties. “It just made sense. Provide something for millennials to do. Get them over to 5508 to see what’s going on,” says Box, a millennial herself.
So Millennial Mixer began as an every other month event – and celebrated its first year in existence with a gathering Jan. 24 at 5508 N. 50th St. In the future, Box may hold the mixers on a quarterly basis and involve more people, perhaps by collaborating with other groups on themed events.
Many who come aren’t familiar with the facility made of refurbished old storage units converted into offices and businesses. Its conference center is the event space, where vendors can set up tables and people can sit at high top tables in the middle and socialize while music plays in the background.
Through word of mouth and social media promotion, the event has grown from 30 people and three vendors to more than 100 with 13 to 14 vendors. “That’s all that can fit in that room. We’ve had to run away vendors,” she says. “We’re almost at the point where we probably need to get a bigger space. For now, we’ll stay at the space that’s free.”
What sets Millennial Mixer apart is its demographic and its laid back approach. After all, there are no memberships, meeting agendas or admission fees. “Here people can ... loosen up a little bit. They can chill at the bar,” she says.
In keeping with the millennial style, the mixers last about two hours. “We like it fast and quick,” Box says.
Box, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit Voice T.H.E. Movement, has a passion for encouraging those who seek to inspire others. A portion of money generated goes toward the organization seeking to improve individuals’ quality of life through health, education, arts, entertainment, and technology.
A marketing consultant and former castmate on Black Entertainment Television‘s hit reality TV series College Hill: Interns, the event helps Box connect to marketing clients. It’s also a place where she can sell her self-help book, The 365 Go Get H.E.R.S. Guide.
Though Millennial Mixer is designed for business, personal relationships could potentially develop. “For us, it’s strictly business,” Box says. “Whatever happens, it’s on them."