The owner of a unique boutique in Juarez, called Julia & Ernestina, is hoping that the store’s mix of U.S. collectibles, Mexican antiques and artisan crafts can keep shoppers south of the border.
“Everyone runs to El Paso to buy things, leaving Ciudad Juarez at a disadvantage,” said store owner Monica Renee Morales Gallo. She believes that in order for Ciudad Juarez to rebound economically money has to be circulating in the city and not outside.
Julia & Ernestina is filled with products made by artisans, designers and companies from different parts of the Mexican republic. It also carries collectibles and one-of-a-kind items.
“Julia & Ernestina is a new concept here in Ciudad Juarez,” Morales said. “It offers you a different way to see things because we collect antiques.”
The store’s name comes from the grandmothers of the Morales family. Morales said her husband’s family has a tradition of naming their businesses after the women in the family.
Morales also likes to showcase local talent and is interested in young people that just finished their degree or are still in college and have something fresh to offer.
“I really like industrial designers, graphic designers, and interior designers,” she said.
From notebooks and wood bracelets, to boxes painted by hand, Morales said that artists and designers reach out to her to show and sell their products at Julia & Ernestina.
“This has helped me a lot to have different things that you won’t find anywhere else,” she said.
The store has two U.S. suppliers for collectible items.
“There are big companies from the U.S. that send us vintage things or replicas that we sell,” Morales said.
Popular collectibles include Coca-Cola and Mexican Lottery items.
“I have met collectors, a lot of collectors, for example, of the Mexican Lottery. The calacas is something that people come and search for all the time, it’s something that I love and that I have,” Morales said. “I also have a client whose a collector of Coca-Cola items.”
Morales’s family also has a workshop that makes furniture and fixtures that they sell at Julia & Ernestina.
“I think the store is fabulous because it is one of a kind,” customer Karla Fonseca said. “There’s nothing similar in the city and it has accessible prices and things that you don’t find anywhere else if you want to know a little bit about Mexican traditions.”
Running a business can be challenging, but Morales said she is grateful for the encouragement she gets from family.
“To tell you the truth what motivates me a lot is my family,” Morales said. “They always say ‘you can do it, you can do it’.”