BY LEANN DILBECK –
Being blessed with artistic talent opens a wide range of career options. For Jesse Garcia, owner of Sanctified Design Studio, his such talent has evolved into an entrepreneurial endeavor with aspirations to one day be his own franchise.
Jesse relocated to Mena from Houston in 1994. According to Jesse, he had “been artistic ever since I could pick up a crayon.” He explained that after graduating high school, he was working construction and realized he would have to create his own opportunities if he remained in Mena. And, that’s just what he did! Jesse became a “regular visitor” to Ken, who owned Sign FX at the time. “I just kept going back day after day… I kept taking him samples of my work … I mean, day after day…” he chuckled, and said that one day, Ken finally gave him the chance he was after. He began sweeping the floors but eventually, he would be running the place, including the design and supervising the production. “About a year and a half later [from starting], I was doing everything. It was to the point that I was literally running the shop.”
Sign FX would eventually sell and then later close and Jesse realized that it was his golden opportunity, but not without a lot of prayer to overcome his fears of being a business owner, “I had clocked in and out my whole life. I hadn’t ever owned anything. I wanted to clock out and go home and not worry about it.” He looked at some other options for work but every where he turned, he was encouraged to open his own place. “I prayed on it, prayed on it, and prayed on it,” and ultimately made the decision to take the plunge. “I didn’t want the Sign FX name per say… because if I’m going to do this, I’m going to re-vamp everything.” Literally, everything he had wanted to change for 11 years, and that’s what he did, after buying a majority of the equipment when Sign FX ultimately closed.
Jesse said he has always had a deep appreciation for downtowns and saw great opportunity in Mena’s reviving downtown. “I’m a big downtown person,” Jesse explained, saying that is what he and his wife do many times when they are traveling is just walk the downtowns. He began ‘window shopping’ and zeroed in on his “dream location” at 901 Mena Street and determined that was where Sanctified Design Studio would be founded!
Jesse credits his wife, Shelby, for her boundless support and help in not only getting the building ready but in his overall venture and vision. The front of Jesse’s store is more of an art studio/boutique than it is a sign shop. The design offices and production area are situated in the rear of the building and the main square footage of the store houses unique metal art by local sculptor and artist, Brian Birtcher. Jesse said that not only has his store been enriched by Brian’s creations but he has been blessed by the friendship the two have built. There is apparel by Tori Rowell as well as gift items and baskets by Kristin Ham. The studio also features stained glass art by local artisan Ken Pulice. “Polk County is crazy talented … I just love art. I remember being an artist and not really having a place to show my art besides a few art shows now and then… but that doesn’t really get your stuff out there. I wouldn’t mind getting more to showcase in here… as long as it doesn’t hurt any of the other ones. It helps them [the artist] out and it makes my shop look cool, too!”
Jesse offers commercial & novelty signs, vehicle wraps & decals, banners & flags, custom t-shirts & apparel, logo design, website design, video production, marketing & company branding.
Just opening in June 2017, Jesse has experienced tremendous success as Sign FX customers learned that he was now on his own and still available to provide services but Jesse said even beyond those customers, the business has exploded. “All the customers transferred over from Sign FX. Then I ended up getting a lot of other clientele… a bunch of it I would have never dreamed I would’ve got.”
The success has encouraged Jesse to think even larger and says he would like to grow to be his own franchise one day but he knows that it is all in God’s timing and Him placing the right people in his path at the right time. For now, he and Shelby, along with their three children, Nalia, 14, Jesse V, 11, and Rayden, 7, are just enjoying where they are right now. “The whole thing has been surreal, to be honest. No regrets at all.”