For Sara Morales, opening Azteka’s Boutique was more than a business venture. It’s a way to bring a bit of her native Mexico to Wichita.
“Everything is handmade,” Morales said. “We’re trying to show our culture.”
The shop sells clothes for women, men and children, plus accessories, pottery, toys and more, all imported from Mexico and handmade, according to Morales. Located in a strip center with a Hispanic bakery and restaurant, the 500-square-foot store’s inventory reflects the “really colorful” nature of Mexico’s culture, Morales said. Necklaces featuring beadwork and anything inspired by famed artist Frida Kahlo are among the store’s most popular items.
Morales and her friend, Gisela Pena, opened Azteka’s last summer. In July, the pair converted an old church bus into a mobile boutique. It will be stationed at Nomar Plaza, at 21st and Broadway, on weekends through the end of August, and also at Botanica on Thursday nights in September. On Saturday, the partners will take part in the Douglas Design District’s 2nd Saturday Artisan Market, held at the Workroom, 150 N. Cleveland. They hope to take the mobile boutique to events in surrounding towns as well.
“We want to go out there and get people to know us,” Morales said.
The partners have also staged several fashion shows to promote their shop, although Morales said the events are “really a lot of work.”
Azteka’s is the first business undertaking for Morales, while Pena has helped her husband with his tire shop. They plan to open a second permanent location soon at Revolutsia, the city’s first shipping container mall, near Hillside and Central.
“First of all, we think it’s a pretty good concept – something new in Wichita,” Morales said of the decision to expand. “And we know it’s going to be a good location. In our (current) location, we get a lot of people from the west side of town. Now we’re going to target people from the other side of town.”
At that location, encompassing about 350 square feet, they plan to add organic soaps and lotions, chocolate and coffee to their inventory.
Morales, who’s originally from Chihuahua, and Pena, who’s from Nezahualcoyotl, use personal contacts and the Internet to find artisan craftsmen in Mexico. Currently, they are carrying items from 14 different Mexican states, including embroidered items from Chiapas, clay pottery from Guadalajara and toys from Michoacan.
“Every state has different stuff that they make there,” Morales said.
And because they’re handmade, every individual item is slightly different from the next, she said.
“It can be the same style but the colors are different because it’s handmade. It’s what they’re making in that moment. That’s what we’re trying to find in our products.”
Now you know
Address: 1056 N. Waco
Owners: Sara Morales and Gisela Pena