The Butterflyy Garden & Black Doll Museum

My name is Sandra Epps I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  After 3 near death experiences due to lupus I decided to turn that negative into a positive. In 2005, I established Sandy’s Land WHERE WE PARTY With A PURPOSE!

We host art parties and the Detroit Doll Show which is the largest black doll show of its kind. Our events and programs are geared toward encouraging WOMEN and GIRLS to “LOVE the SKIN THEY’RE IN!”

Our art parties include pillow and purse painting of images that include butterflies, hearts, flowers and women in various skin tones and different hairstyles such as locs, braids, Afros and Afro Puffs. The designs titles are inspirational such as “Let Your Light SHINE,” Naturally BEaUtiful, “I Am Magic” and Vision just to name a few.

 The Detroit Doll Show mission is to celebrate history, culture, self love and diversity with the promotion of Dolls of Color.

It has been my DREAM to own space to host events and programs indoor and outdoor. The Butterflyy Garden and Black Doll Museum will provide entertainment, empowerment and education with programs and classes inside of the Build-out Shipping Container and on the grounds of The Butterflyy Garden. Classes will include how to identify herbs and grow them, doll making workshops taught by doll makers, Art Parties, DOLL EXHIBIT (where we will showcase black doll makers & manufactures on a monthly bases) and be a resource for the community to host birthday parties, bridal showers and baby showers.

The Black Doll Museum will be the backdrop inside the shipping containers. We will provide shelves and enclosed cases of Black Dolls to include historic facts. These dolls will be from Sandra Epps personal collection as well as Blacks Dolls on exhibit from Doll Makers and Collectors. The display of Black Dolls will provide ongoing teaching of Black History and Black Culture for children as well as adults to see, learn something new, revisit history and to encourage visitors to embrace Black History and Culture.

We decided to established The Butterflyy Garden in the Brightmoor Neighborhood in the City of Detroit because of the growing diversity, great space and wonderful community of neighbors. And there are well kept areas in the Brightmoor Neighborhood filled with vacant land that would be perfect for indoor and outdoor space.

To help our environment and beautify the community we will become a certified way-station for Monarch Butterflies to allocate a place for them to eat and lay their eggs in a pesticide free habitat.  Research shows that over the last 20 years there has been an 80% decrease in the butterfly population. Butterflies are now being characterized as quasi-extinct. Their natural habits are being destroyed to accommodate new development along with pesticides and climate change. WE NEED THESE POLLINATORS they help our ecosystem. Butterflies are visually pleasing due to their vivid colors, they eat plenty of weed plants and they contribute as a food sources for animals and other insects that include birds, lizards, spiders and toads. In addition, Scientists use their presence or absence of butterflies as predictor of whether our ecosystem is healthy.

 The Butterflyy Garden and Black Doll Museum will be whimsical theme that includes interactive NATURE FUN FACTS on free standing signage, a small pond with koi fish, gazebo, a rock path of hope (for people who have  succumb to lupus or to celebrate a love one or to acknowledge donors). There will be ornate seating areas for reading, relaxing or to have an intimate lunch in The Butterflyy Garden.

Our fundraising goal is $150,000 to kick start the project with the purchase: of 4 to 8 lots, permits, fresh dirt, brick pavers, rocks, land survey, till the land, soil testing, plants, water irrigation system with two 250 tank/totes and obtain shipping containers for structure build-out.

Other items needed: fencing, compact tractor, three to four custom butterfly benches, raised garden bed kits, Victorian gazebo, metal trellis, pavilion, shed for supplies, solar panels, solar lights, contractors (to build-out shipping containers and shelving for BLACK DOLLS) and landscapers (to install pond and waterfall).  We would like to purchase the land in 2020 and break ground in the Spring of 2021.

Why Now? – my business has suffered due to cancellations of events caused by the pandemic. In 2019, I had already sacrificed having a vehicle to pay off business debt then we were hit with covid-19 in 2020 delaying our business goals that included purchasing land.

During the outbreak of covid-19 people realize the importance of gardening because of food shortage at the grocery stores. People are finding that it’s more resourceful to grow their gardens. Furthermore, due to the pandemic for safety precaution families were more inclined to exercise and to seek basic entertainment outdoors. Living in a pandemic has forced people to slow down and to enjoy the simple things in life.

And due to the unjust killing of black people creating a Black Doll Museum will help children and adults of color to celebrate who they are without judgement and to provide other races and culture to see the beauty, experience and humanity of African Americans.

Personally being diagnosed with lupus at the age of 14, I understand the seriousness of “eat to live” and finding natural methods to stay healthy. Creating art and being in nature offer the same health benefits: they both will decrease stress, anger and anxiety; take your mind off of your troubles, helps to ward off depression, reduce muscle tension, relax heart rate, lower blood pressure, boost immune system and improve mood.

Finally, we want to provide the City of Detroit with a unique form of amusement that the entire family can enjoy and find fulfilling.

The Benefits – The Butterflyy Garden will contribute to saving our ecosystem with a butterfly habitat. We will provide full time employment for two to four individuals to help maintain grounds of the garden and facilitate events. In addition, extend collaboration with herbalist, gardeners, entomologist, black history and tour companies along with black doll makers and manufactures. This will also include doing business with local food trucks, various vendors, and professional landscapers.

In addition, the Black Doll Museum will be a fun teachable resource for black history and culture for all who visits.

Acquiring land and creating the Butterflyy Garden would allow us to contribute to the positive things that are growing on in the City of Detroit. In addition, I feel that we will be making history providing outdoor and indoor entertainment started by an African American Woman. This would make me Proud.

About Me – I am an author, professional face and body painter with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Major in Art from Wayne State University. I’ve been in business for 15 years. I established SHE’S Empowered (Sisters Helping Encourage Sisters) from 2010 – 2018 where we hosted the Women’s Empowerment Conference Butterfly Bash. The mission was to encourage women to live healthy in mind, body and spirit, and we advocated lupus awareness. The Butterfly logo represents the butterfly rash that appears on a lupus patient’s face when experiencing a flare-up and it’s symbolic of transformation, peace, prosperity, hope and rebirth.

The Detroit Doll Show was established in 2011 – present to encourage women and girls to “Love the Skin They’re In!” It’s an annual event that provides entertainment and empowerment with workshops, arts & crafts, doll look-a-like contest, DJ (music), panel discussion, photo doll box, speakers, doll legacy award, spoken word artists, children authors with positive black characters and black doll makers and manufactures from around the globe. We have been featured in Black Enterprise, America Black Web, The Detroit News & Free Press, on American Black Journal, Live in the D on WDIV, BLAC Magazine, RollingOut Magazine, Michigan Chronicle, Mix 92.3 with Deborah Smith Pollard and the Downtown Monitor just to name a few.

The Butterflyy Garden will provide Detroit Residents and Visitors access to a serene space that’s fun and healthy for the mind, body and spirit.

 Having the support of my community and people from around the globe will reinforce my belief that GOOD PEOPLE DO HELP GOOD PEOPLE! And it will be my pleasure to make sure that every person who visits The Butterflyy Garden or support us will feel like family.

Thank You for your contribution!
  • james cohen 
    • $9 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $150 
    • 7 mos
  • Lea Hesley 
    • $20 
    • 14 mos
  • GoFundMe Team 
    • $500 
    • 15 mos
  • Rebecca Danis 
    • $50 
    • 15 mos
See all


Sandra Epps 
Detroit, MI