MIAMI – Many of us frequent some of South Florida's hottest, upscale and sexiest nightclubs. We take hours to put on our latest outfits, step out with an indisputable swagger, then have the time of our lives…all just to go home and plan to do it all again the next week.
To many people, it's just a night of partying and fun….but have you ever wondered who is behind the scenes? Who meticulously and strategically plans your night of grown and sexy elation?
His name is Mike Gardener: CEO and president of Headliner Market Group. He is the mastermind behind Thursday nights in the downtown area’s finest nightclub, Karu & Y, along with Saturday nights at South Beach’s Prive, Tuesdays at the Design District’s own Grass Lounge and Sundays with Louis Oliver at The Forge.
Born in the windy state of Chicago, Illinois, Gardner had no intention of getting involved in the club scene, but like every kid growing up, his dream at the time was to be like Mike – Michael Jordan, that is.
“Play basketball. That was all I did growing up. I had no other aspirations and no other dreams but to play basketball. That was my life,” Gardner told the South Florida Times.
With perseverance comes reward, and with talent comes opportunity, so it is no surprise that in 1991, Gardner was offered a basketball scholarship to play at the University of Miami. For two years, he played as starting point guard. He later transferred to DePaul University in Chicago to complete his marketing degree.
After a few minor stints with VIBE magazine, Gardner found his way back to the Sunshine State in the late 1990s to help his cousin with his barber shop called “Headliners.”
As a self-proclaimed “non-party animal,” going out from time to time wasn’t a big deal for Gardner, especially because he was well known within the sports sector.
He soon found himself organizing a party with the Miami Heat basketball team and The Miami Dolphins football team.
“It was at that moment that I thought it would be a good idea to start doing my own parties and make some decent money at the same time,” Gardner stated.
In 1999, Headliner Market Group was formed. Nine years later, the company continues to provide South Florida with the most exclusive parties to date. The company has hosted parties with Diddy, Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Beyonce and – most rewarding to Gardner – Michael Jordan.
Many would call the company’s efforts and accomplishments thus far a major success. But Gardner measures his success beyond the existing cash flow.
“I gauge my success on the people for the most part,’’ Gardner said. “In this game, we need the people, they don’t need us. And I always value the opinion of the people.”
Strapped to his hip, in his cell phone, is a list of goals he reads over every day. From maintaining Headliner Market Group as the premier
marketing and promotions company, to personal goals that keep him grounded.
It’s being humble, thankful and blessed that drives Gardner to explore bigger and greater things for Headliner Market Group in the upcoming New Year.
“I want to diversify Headliner outside of just doing parties,’’ he said. “I want to transition into concerts, even charity events, and definitely do a lot more for this community.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Karu & Y nightclub
WHERE: 71 NW 14th St., Miami.
WHEN: Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
COST: $20. Free for ladies before 12:30 a.m.
CONTACT: For more information, please call 305-788-3673 or log onto www.karu-y.com.
Photo by MyChal McDonald. Michael Gardner