MILWAUKEE -- For years, people drove by a foreclosed property near 6th and Layton on Milwaukee’s south side.
That is, until Jesus Nanez laid eyes on it. To the artist -- it was a blank canvas.
“It was my idea, but it was validated by her,” said Nanez, co-owner of The Farmhouse Paint & Sip. "I remember we were walking out back and I was like, 'Why don't we do the paint and sip thing?'"
His wife used her accounting background to crunch some numbers.
"He has a lot of ideas and I'm always like, 'That's crazy,'" said co-owner Thaime Nanez. “We realized there's nothing like this around this neighborhood.”
The combination of their talents launched a rustic revival of a once dilapidated property.
Thaime was born in Venezuela while Jesus was born in Mexico. Both eventually called Milwaukee home, and they’ve been happily married for 8 years.
In 2015 they took on a project not many would dare to -- turning a farmhouse into an art house
"We were pushing against the wind the whole time,” Jesus said.
The property dates back to 1890 -- which came with its own set of challenges.
“It needed a new roof, plumbing, electric,” said Thaime.
The couple needed to renovate the barn, the garage and the house -- which they wanted to live in. Finding funding was a struggle.
They learned that that can be the hardest part of becoming a small business owner. Some banks didn’t even call back. But once funding came through, they got to work -- crafting their vision from the ground up.
"We worked so hard investing time and energy,” Thaime said.
By December of 2016, their barn doors were open for business -- and customers aren't the only ones appreciating their labor. Nearby organizations and businesses say it has had an impact on the surrounding community.
“It's been a huge impact to the neighborhood,” said Leif Otteson, executive director of Gateway Milwaukee. “It brings a whole new aspect to community.”
Creativity flows from table to table. For the adults looking to unwind, a supply of spirits can bring out inspiration.
"This place is for people who want to play with art and are open to making mistakes and correcting them,” Thaime said.
There are painting, wood panel and mosaic classes. Instructors can teach you in English or in Spanish.
Now entering its fourth year of operation, The Farmhouse Paint & Sip is showing no signs of slowing down. In 2018 the business was awarded by the city of Milwaukee with the Mayor's Design Award.
"It’s so special, you feel the love here,” said marketing and artist assistant Jessica Rodriguez.
Employees describe it as a one of a kind environment.
"It's the opportunity to enrich someone’s life," studio manager April Moraza said. “Not everyone is going to come out with a masterpiece, but you really get this opportunity to grow and have fun."
Thousands flooded to the farmhouse last summer, and the duo created two festivals celebrating Latinx culture. One festival celebrated the legacy of Mexican-American icon Selena Quintanilla. The other celebrated iconic artist Frida Kahlo. Festivals for 2020 are already in the works.
“I'm shooting for the moon and landing among the stars,” Jesus said.
A creative outlet for everyone now exists, thanks to a stroke of genius.
Customers can also host private events on the property -- including baby showers, birthdays and even weddings.
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