Howdy, Neighbor!

As Brickell’s popularity booms around the world, so does the types of the residents the neighborhood attracts.
Words by Jorge Arauz | Photos by Josue Acosta | December 27, 2020 | People

Thomas Fuchs & Michou Mahtani

True global citizens, husbands and business partners Thomas Fuchs and Michou Mahtani are living fabulously atop The Palace on Brickell Avenue, an iconic building commissioned by the legendary New York Real Estate Developer Leona Hemsley. Thomas was born and raised in NYC and Michou is of Lebanese/Indian roots, born in Jamaica and raised in Switzerland. Lured in year after year by world-class events including Art Basel, the Miami Open, SOBEWFF, the Miami International Boat Show and the Miami Grand Prix, it wasn’t long before the pair was hooked and decided to make the move. “We realized that this beach town grew a soul in the shadow of its palm trees with the wind gently and silently rustling the palms,” they say. Today, the dynamic duo runs Thomas Fuchs Creative, an award-winning global commercial, hospitality and residential design company that creates, produces, sells and brands a multi-faceted collection of high-end home accessories including chandeliers, lamps, vases, barware, dinnerware, drinking glasses and napkins. “Living and working in Miami lets you feel like you’re on vacation in a foreign country that has a flare all its own. Everything is grounded in a multi-ethnic population with a burgeoning economy and real estate market,” they say. “Miami has always been referred to as New York’s sixth borough and it has most definitely lived up to its moniker!”

Eileen Higgins

Spending the better part of 20 years working in the private sector running large divisions of international companies, Eileen Higgins’ path began turning toward public service after leaving her corporate career behind to become the Director of the Peace Corps in Belize. “For me, that was my very first time living and seeing a very different way of life,” she says. “It inspired me to live a life of service to others.” After her time at the Peace Corps, she became a Foreign Service Diplomat for the U.S. State Department, where, while waiting for security clearance, she lived in Miami and fell in love with the city. “I knew once my time as a Diplomat was over, Miami was going to be the place I wanted to grow a foundation,” she says. Fast-forward seven years and the proud Downtown Miami resident serves as the Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District 5, a dynamic and vibrant district that includes parts of Downtown and Brickell, Miami Beach, Coral Way, Little Havana and West Flagler. “I’ve lived in many international urban cities like NYC, DC and Mexico City, but I chose Miami as my hometown and the place to establish deep roots,” she says. “Naturally, I think it’s the best place to live — it’s rich in culture, it’s international…there are so many reasons! With our year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, bay views and our burgeoning startup community, this is the place of the future.”

The Truppmans

Harold B. Klite Truppman and his wife Luana Truppman live with their dog Aspen and cat Roma at Panorama in the heart of Brickell. “We love the fabulous gym, the movie theatre rooms, private dining & wine tasting room and all the other nice features of the building,” they say. “We also like that there are other professionals in the building and during non-COVID times there are nice social events.” Born in Chicago and raised in Miami, Harold is a commercial and civil litigation attorney focusing his practice on matters involving business, real estate and property insurance claims. After tiring of the commute from Aventura to his law office in Miami, he made to the move to Panorama 2.5 years ago. One of the perks of city living the couple takes advantage of quite often is walking in the early morning along the water, from Brickell or South Miami Avenue toward Coconut Grove and Key Biscayne. “It’s always a nice way to begin the day,” says Harold. So what’s the best advice they can offer someone contemplating a move to The Magic City? “Relocating to a new city is never easy, however, Miami has a unique and colorful culture and there are also a lot of opportunities,” they say. “Just be prepared — once you make the move, you’ll have many of your family and friends asking to visit!”

David Anasagasti

You’ve probably seen the soaring urban murals of David Anasagasti a.k.a. Ahol Sniffs Glue a.k.a. Alouishous San Gomma all over town, on stickers, framed in the homes of art collectors and at a Wynwood Wall near you. The artist’s signature drowsy-eyed monsters have made national and international headlines. Born in Hialeah, raised in Cutler Ridge and living in Edgewater for 10 years, the artist finally made the move to Brickell last year, buying a place at Neo Vertika, right across the street from Frame Art, where many of his works are on display. “From the day I was born, there was a road that was already paved for me — go to school, do this, do that, go get a job, make money, get married, have kids, do everything that’s expected of you — but as time went on, little by little I started going against the grain,” he says. “I began realizing how awesome it is to be different, to be weird, to be the weirdo, the freak, the person who is not like the other cool kids, or what everybody else thinks is cool.” Giving back and staying active in the community is at the artist’s core. During the pandemic, his art has appeared on facemasks benefitting Lotus House and he’s helped raise funds for Feeding South Florida, among many other acts of service. “Every day is an opportunity to do better,” he says. “I do my best to stay active and involved in helping make Miami as cool and fun as possible for everyone!”

The Kemp-Gerstels

Chances are that if you haven’t yet met The Kemp-Gerstels, you’ve most certainly heard of them. Amber earned her PhD in Family Psychology from Vanderbilt University and began working as a Psychologist at the University of Miami before shifting gears to launch a DIY lifestyle blog called Damask Love that quickly gained an international following and led her to become a leading Art & Crafts Influencer, Television Personality and CEO of wildly popular digital stationery empire YayDay Paper Co. In 2018, she was a finalist on NBC’s Making It  — a primetime crafting competition hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. She has also appeared on Hallmark’s Home & Family, Good Morning America and The Home Shopping Network, to name a few. In 2019, she premiered her own family crafting show Disney Family Sundays on Disney+. She has partnerships with brands including Joann Fabrics, Martha Stewart, Coca-Cola, Publix, Walmart and Energizer Batteries. Her husband, Andrew, is a partner at Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo with significant experience successfully defending individual and class consumer claims in various areas of law. Today, the couple lives in the center of it all on Brickell Avenue with their two sons, Markus (6) and newborn Maxwell (with Grandmother Linda making the occasional cameo!). “We’re definitely ‘city people’ and love the hustle and bustle of Brickell and Downtown and being close to everything,” they say. “By minimizing our commutes to work and having everything so easily accessible, we’re able to maximize family time!”