Bridging the Gap Between Being An Artist and An Entrepreneur
For an entrepreneur sometimes the hardest part of owning their own business is setting up operational systems. To many, these systems may seem like time thieves when it comes to getting the work that brings in revenue. For artists, that challenge becomes magnified. As creatives, systems and operations is sometimes the last thing on their creative mind, especially since they are constantly creating.
This was the case for Luis Estrada, owner and artist of Estrada’s Artistry. As a creative individual, Luis was always looking for a way to use his skill, but the thought of becoming a full-time artist never crossed his mind. That was until one day during a trip to Flagstaff while staying at a friend’s house, he decided to go for a hike in the woods. As he was hiking he was coming across pieces of wood and other elements that caught his eye. He began gathering the pieces and brought them back to the house where he created a beautiful cross that he gave to their host as a token of their appreciation. The friend was taken aback by the beautiful creation Luis had handcrafted from the pieces he gathered.
Their friend, an avid art collector, mentioned to Luis that this piece was now his favorite piece of art and would hold a special and significant place amongst his possessions. Luis was shocked that what he considered a humble piece he created caused such a strong emotion. Little did he know that this moment would forever change his career and life. Returning to normalcy was no longer something Luis could consider. His mind was full of ideas and all his hands wanted to do was create and bring those ideas to life.
With the support of his wife Pilar, Luis began creating crosses as gifts for the youth group at the church they attended. Word quickly got out and he began getting commissions from other members of his church for their own handcrafted crosses. Pilar saw this as an opportunity for Luis to make this a business and offered to put in money she had saved to buy equipment to get started. His first clients, consisting of family, friends, and church members, would express how much they loved their pieces and how they stirred up so many emotions.
This is exactly what motivated Luis, the emotions his pieces cause with his clients. Throughout the process of starting his business, Luis and Pilar always felt as if help and resources were unattainable and scarce for a small business like theirs. It wasn’t until COVID-19 and the shutdown happened that they began being exposed to different programs set up to help small businesses. One of those programs happened to be Prestamos CDFI.
As Pilar became in charge of operations and systems for Estrada’s Artistry, she came across the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), offered to small businesses. She quickly applied for the PPP through their business bank with little luck. After she decided to reach out to their accountant, Pilar was connected to Prestamos CDFI, where she quickly and easily secured a PPP. As Pilar began realizing all the programs available through the SBA and Prestamos, she decided to seek help from the PRIME program.
Through PRIME, Pilar and Luis were connected to Hector, a Business Advisor at Prestamos. “Hector has been the change agent for our business. We had never found an organization that has been willing to work with us, have trust in us, and would help create opportunities for us to grow and develop.”, says Pilar of her experience. “Through Hector, we have been able to discuss ideas and find areas of growth for ourselves and our business. We have really grown personally and he has helped us find our identity and confidence as business owners”.
Further, Alex at Prestamos connected Estrada’s Artistry with US Bank, which was looking for local artists to help create awards that they will be giving out to their community partners making a big impact for small businesses. Estrada’s Artistry was awarded this big project which will be helping elevate Luis’ work at a much larger, national scale. “This opportunity with Prestamos has peeled layers from my eyes and has allowed me to see that there are organizations out there to help businesses expand and care about their outcome.”, said Luis.
The last six months of partnership with Prestamos have provided Luis and Pilar the opportunity to dream big. They are now thinking of ways to create jobs and expand their business to a much larger scale. It has helped both of them develop and generate ideas. Knowing that there are organizations like Prestamos has provided the Estrada’s the possibility to think of their business at a much larger scale. Pilar is currently working on creating a website to help sell Luis’ creations and also on learning how to strategically use social media to help create buzz around their work and upcoming art installations.
Prestamos CDFI is a part of Chicanos por la Causa, a non-profit organization that provides communities with resources ranging from health, education, financial services, housing, and advocacy. Prestamos continues its efforts to advance our work to provide high-quality financial products and services for small businesses that lead to impactful economic development projects. We invite you to visit our website, prestamosloans.org to find out how you can be part of this impact.