Art hub: Couple opens studio for fashion, photography

·3 min read

May 23—HARLINGEN — Laisa Macias, a fashion designer and entrepreneur, always imagined having a business in downtown Harlingen.

Along with her husband Juan, her dream finally came true with the opening of 212 on Jackson, located at 212 E. Jackson St.

Currently, the business is set up as a studio workspace, and it holds samples from Macias' designs, as well. However, the main goal is to host artists on the weekends where they can do pop ups — whether they feature art pieces or any other form of creativity.

They also want to be a part of Harlingen Art Night.

Eventually, Juan wants to create a photography group and host photoshoots and workshops. Macias wants to focus on teaching people her own craftsmanship, such as sewing or knitting.

The couple began the process of purchasing the locale last year but had the idea in mind for a while.

The building was not for sale, but Macias' husband made a comment to the owners about wanting to be their neighbor in downtown Harlingen one day. The owners had been waiting for the right people to buy the building, which is why they agreed to sell.

"They had this building for 10 years, and she said her heart and soul was there and wanted it to go to someone who would love it the same way," Macias said about one of the owners.

The building used to be an all-women gym owned by Renea Perez.

Being a fashion designer, Macias used to work out of her living room and home but has now created her own studio and brought her material to 212 on Jackson, which is the official name of the studio. At the same time, Juan created his own photography studio inside, which has already been used for photoshoots.

Both have day jobs, which means this new business venture is a side job.

However, they hope it can become full time.

"It is the side hustle you hope one day exceeds what you are making at your day job so you can quit your day job," she said.

"I want to have a girls' day instead of girls' night out, something fun and exciting," she said. "Somewhere where you can spend time and be artistic."

In the future, she also plans to feature items from other Texan artists so they can have a place to sell their products.

"You fill up the store, but it is not necessarily just your brand," she said.

Currently, the studio works by appointment only, but Macias said she spends most of her nights there.

"I started to do alterations again, and people come and drop off and pick up," she said.

Macias said having a studio, hosting other artists and doing collaborations is an activity she considers somewhat new in Harlingen.

"In my experience, there is not a lot of collaboration, and we feel there is enough business for everybody. We want to have an artistic community you can depend on," Macias said.

On April 30, the couple hosted a soft opening with no expectations. Macias did not know if people would show up but was surprised to see the outcome.

"We had a really good turnout, and it felt good to have support from the community. People are ready to get out, and we feel they are excited about what we are doing," she said.

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