This article originally appeared in the December print edition of LOCALE Magazine.
Get Your Instagram Game on Point With This Decor from Casa Artelexia
While downtown San Diego is just a mere half-hour drive from the border, Artelexia brings the border even closer to San Diegans with two colorful retail fronts in North Park, interactive events and neighborhood block parties for holidays. Bonus: no passport required!
Inspired by childhood memories of walking through markets in Mexico with family members, founder, owner and girl boss Elexia de la Parra launched Artelexia in 2008 as a regular stall at the weekly La Jolla Farmers Market. For a year, de la Parra and her parents woke up at 5 a.m. to set up the colorful stall and stock it with affordable, but high-quality folk art products from various regions of Mexico.
Within a year, de la Parra’s stall grew a cult-like following and she decided to take the leap and open up Artelexia’s first retail space in Little Italy, which has relocated to North Park. Thus, Artelexia became Casa Artelexia—the name change reflective of the permanent retail space.
Just a few years later, Elexia de la Para now owns two booming retail locations in North Park that transport visitors to Mexico without ever having to leave their backyard. The retail fronts are designed with bright and bold colors, the Ray Street location even has a large mural as a tribute to famed Mexican artist, and fellow girl boss, Frida Kahlo, reminiscent of Mexican art and are filled with authentic folk art pieces, including cards, wall décor, kitchen supplies, journals, pins, clothing and everything in between. During trips to Mexico, de la Parra handpicks each of the items in both shops from local markets. The air fresheners, enamel pins and buttons, bilingual cookbooks and children’s books, painted glassware and embroidered pillows are among de la Parra’s favorite items in stock right now.
“I only buy things that I really like! If I don’t sell them, I can keep them! I really love everything I have,” laughed de la Parra.
And she doesn’t stop her tribute to her heritage with just craft and clothing items. Artelexia offers dozens of workshops and events that give San Diegans an interactive and one-of-a-kind way to engage with another culture. Artelexia hosts meet and greets with artists and painters, paper flower workshops and altar making lessons. Not to mention the weekly piñata workshops, where groups can make their own fiesta special!
Our personal favorite event? de la Parra’s sister company’s Eat.Drink.Cook.Mexico. Mexican tours in Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende.
“When I went on my first [trip] to Oaxaca, I just fell in love. I wanted to stay there, but I had just signed a lease. So I thought, ‘What can I do to keep going back?’ So, I started these week-long craft and culinary tours to keep going back to Mexico. I arrived a few days early [to] do my buying for the shop. When guests arrive, I take them on market tours, visit with our vendors and eat at my favorite restaurants. They have a week to get to know the city. It is really fun for me to share the city and to experience it with them,” said de la Parra.
What’s in store for Artelexia in 2018? de la Parra says the second space is an event space for craft workshops and available to rent out for your events.
However, at the moment, de la Parra is focused on growing both stores and continuing her trips to Mexico.
“It’s home for me. It’s comfortable and familiar. It’s just a magical place. I love the feeling and the warmth of the people and the culture. When you go to a restaurant, for example, people wish you a happy meal. You don’t get that anywhere else,” said de la Parra. We beg to differ, as Artelexia gives us the same magical, bright feeling.
Be on the lookout, because art workshops are added weekly!
Elexia de la Parra’s Must-Visit Spots
- San Miguel de Allende
- Mexico City
Artelexia is home to one of San Diego’s most Instagrammable spots—a colorful mural on the intersection of North Park Way and Ray Street. Designed by local artist Channin Fulton, the mural states that “You Are Radiant!” and was painted by neighborhood locals.