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Meet Lilly-Ana Davila, the 18-year-old founder of Gainesville Bazaar, a pop-up market for small businesses
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Lilly-Ana Davila, 18, is a junior at Chestatee High School and founder of Gainesville Bazaar, a pop-up market for small businesses. (Photo submitted to The Times)

School may still be in session for Lilly-Ana Davila, but it may be safe to say she’s aced the concept of work-life balance.

A junior at Chestatee High School and a participant in its Renaissance Academy Creative Enterprises program, the 18-year-old keeps her nose flush against the grindstone of schoolwork, part-time employment and entrepreneurship. In addition to a balloon arrangement business, which she started at 15, Davila is the founder of Gainesville Bazaar, a pop-up shopping event composed of local vendors running the gamut from food, clothing and jewelry to gaming, body sculpting and spa products.

Gainesville Bazaar Spring Fling

When: Noon to 5 p.m. March 25

Where: Triufantes de Jesucristo Church, 794 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville

More info:

Besides her own, many of Davila’s family ties are tangled in the small business world, a realm she’s found poses its own limitations, particularly in gaining exposure beyond social media followers and close personal connections.

“They would put so much work into the items they create (and) the services they offer, but they had such little clientele because it wasn’t networked around the Gainesville area,” Davila said. “We support each other (as fellow business owners), but Gainesville itself — we haven’t caught their attention yet.”

While contemplating the idea of a bazaar, Davila found another source of inspiration in her aunt and grandmother, who run an online boutique.

“Seeing them start from nothing (to) build up their business got me motivated to go out there,” she said. “Basically every small business is so limited to social media, and I needed a way to let people try on things in person and see my arrangements in person.”

Gainesville Bazaar launched in 2021 as a backyard event with 10 vendors and about 100 guests, with most of the vendors selling out of their wares partway through.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this could really go somewhere,’” Davila said. “At first it was just a little idea, a little dream that I had. Growing up, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but never knew what my passion was (or) where I was supposed to really start.”

From those “very small and simple beginnings,” the bazaar has tripled in size, now attracting vendors from as far as North Carolina and Alabama.

Last December, Davila organized a Christmas bazaar with more than 70 vendors, and aims to host four to six pop-up events per year. 

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Founded by 18-year-old Lilly-Ana Davila, Gainesville Bazaar is a pop-up market for small businesses. Since launching in June 2021, the bazaar has hosted several events with 40-70 vendors from the local business community and beyond. (Photo submitted to The Times)

Gainesville Bazaar’s next pop-up, a “spring fling,” is slated for noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 25 at Triufantes de Jesucristo Church in Gainesville.

Every Gainesville Bazaar event is open to the public, with few restrictions on the type and age of participating small businesses, staging opportunities for entrepreneurs to not only boost and broaden their clientele, but network with and potentially mentor one another.

“A brick-and-mortar store in Gainesville doesn’t mean people in Flowery Branch know you,” Davila said. “If you’re a small business, if you have something that you’ve worked on — your passion — then we’re going to work with you, we’re going to take you in, we’re going to help you grow. We’re going to take your ideas and we’re going to network together. Even if they have a (brick-and-mortar) store or they’ve been around for five years, there’s always ways that even the small businesses that are barely starting can learn from them.”

For vendors, space is given on a first-come, first-served basis. Each bazaar accommodates roughly 40 to 70 vendors, depending on the size of the host location, according to Davila.

Vendors interested in participating in upcoming events can contact Davila via email at

For newcomers to the small business world, Davila is launching a “newbie program” tailored to help emerging entrepreneurs gain their footing.

“The business world can be so intimidating. We’re here for encouragement, we’re here for support and to help them grow,” Davila said. “If you have an idea to start a business, this is the place for you. If you have a business and it’s not been the best this year or you just don’t know where else to take it, this is for you. If you need help creating a logo, building an Instagram and email, this is the perfect place to get that advice and extra boost.”

With the exception of an assistant for set-up on event days, Davila runs Gainesville Bazaar single-handedly, fielding emails, creating content for social media, coordinating with vendors and organizing events.

Her school day finishes around 4:30 p.m., and from there she clocks in at her part-time job until about 8 or 9. It’s a hefty load to manage, but Davila isn’t sure she’d call it work.

“I just have to multitask,” she said. “Whenever you’re doing something you love, it’s not really work. Sometimes it gets tiring, but it’s literally the thing I look forward to every day — being able to interact with people, manage my business while still going to school and learning from other people. What I’m doing feels right to me, so I’m going to continue.”

Ask Davila what keeps her going and she won’t beat around the bush with her answer: “It’s worth it — the late nights of no sleep, working and then going straight to the event, it’s all paying off at the end of the day because I know I’m doing something good for my community.”

Davila knows she still has more to learn but feels she’s always “been ahead of the game.” As a minority in the business world, and the oldest of four siblings, she hopes her ambition shows her siblings that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to.

“As a Latina woman, people (were) like, ‘She’s only 15, what is she even doing? She hasn’t even finished high school. She doesn’t know anything about life.’ But in reality, you don’t have to have all of those things (checked off) to be able to start something,” Davila said. “Once you find your passion, there’s nothing that can stop you.”

For announcements and updates on pop-ups and networking events, follow @gainesville_bazaar on Instagram.

With questions, contact