Kultural Exposure

Tucked in between a gun shop and a used bookstore, Kulture is virtually hidden from the otherwise busy intersection of J and 24th Street. But look closely, and often there will be delicate antique furniture sitting outside for sale. Inside, it is filled to the brim with a variety of colorful imported merchandise. Paintings from local artists based in the Central Valley hang proudly, while decorative skulls, called calaveras, are found in every corner of the store. Slipped in between the vibrant art, an assortment of colorful jewelry and handmade leather bracelets from vendors both local and global are on display. In the year following their opening, Kulture has become a staple business within Midtown. Husband and wife co-owners, Nancy and David Garcia, along with college friends Cuahutemoc Vargas and Sem Lona, all Central Valley natives, birthed the idea when they started a custom clothing line, Keeping It Paisa, a brand dedicated to “keeping it real” within Chicano culture.

The product itself was the hobbyhorse of Lona, a graphic designer interested in pursuing a different endeavor. After doing a bit of developing with Vargas, the idea came to life. Vargas joyfully recalls, “As a joke, we invested in some hats,” but unfortunately the project failed to go anywhere. It wasn’t until Vargas teamed up with David Garcia that they were able to flush out more concepts for the clothing line. Garcia, with an expert background in sales,figured out a way to successfully market the brand by making themselves present at events around the area, they soon started making a profit. Keeping It Paisa features an assortment of apparel and accessories that pay homage to their heritage with tongue-in-cheek cultural references most Mexican-Americans grew up with. Soon enough, their small business was off the ground, but they wanted something more out of it. Ultimately, the two decided on pursuing a physical space for business. _MG_7420_MG_7400 _MG_7318 _MG_7324Garcia notes, “It was more of an idea of finding a location to sell our clothing line.” The decision to open Kulture was met with some challenging options for Garcia; a secure job over at the State Capitol, or pursuing the dream of owning and running a business in the heart of Midtown, Sacramento. After some support from his wife, Nancy, he and his business associates opted for the latter. After some searching, they would occupy the former space of Teresa’s Antiques, which by a great coincidence was up for sale. “Long story short, we ended up buying the whole inventory. We didn’t know anything about antiques. So we just took it on”, Garcia recalls.  According to him, the size of the store was perfect for them and the added bonus was its location.

From that point, the group took the next steps by supplying the store with their merchandise, and then slowly increasing their inventory by adding rare, imported, specialty goods. Because of this, Kulture has managed to have some small success within their year of opening. Just recently, they expanded part of the store in an effort to diversify their merchandise. While business is growing and word of mouth is spreading, the group isn’t without the challenges that come with running a business. They promote themselves heavily on social media and still attend big events, often to help their store and their clothing line. These efforts are tremendously effective and make it worthwhile for each of them. “I think that’s a lot of things people don’t see. The hardships–because we do have bills to pay,” states Nancy Garcia. Vargas and the Garcias have heavily emphasized their collective passion that being involved with Kulture is a full-time job, but it’s exciting and always different. Each is motivated by different factors, but the one common thread they share is the productivity they grew up with in the Central Valley._MG_7316_MG_7359_MG_7363 _MG_7357 The Kulture crew has stated frankly that there will always be pushback, but regardless, they are dedicated to reaching higher heights by making their business a thriving and flourishing entity. Even with the new arena breaking ground this fall, the group sees an advantage: slowly reaching customers outside of the Sacramento area, specifically the surrounding suburbs. They’ve even managed to break into markets in other parts of California. The group explained that recently after vending an event this past March, representatives from La Plaza De Cultura Y Artes, a Mexican-American history museum in LA, saw some of their clothing and wanted it to be a part of their exhibits. “That’s pretty exciting. We’re not expecting to sell a ton of them, but just the exposure is nice to have,” says Garcia. They mentioned confidently that this move would lead them to sell in other markets across the state.

In the next five years, the group wants to be at a point where they don’t have to work as hard as they do now, but are still in a place of comfort and success where the can take care of the business and their families. They do hope to expand and open another flagship store with Old Sacramento possibly being the next location. For now, though, the Kulture family hustles hard and keeps the axe to the grinder to make their vision and goals a reality.