For shop owners Claudia and Bobby Brown, Villa Tesoros is just one piece of a thriving community of artisans. The pair started out in a simple booth offering their handmade leather goods at various events. During the New Years’ Eve celebrations in 2014, they caught the attention of the General Manager of La Villita Historic Arts Village. They were asked to apply for a space in the arts village under a new revival program.
Claudia was hesitant at first. “But then we thought: Why not? Let’s apply,” she explains. They became the first tenants of the new program in 2015. They were soon joined by other local craftspeople. Bobby explains that this new program was in the spirit of a 1939 ordinance that stipulates this neighborhood- the oldest surviving one in San Antonio- be filled with artisans and artistic expression.
Claudia and Bobby identify Villa Tesoros as a women’s boutique, but emphasize that it welcomes and caters to everyone. Their handmade leather products, including bracelets, purses, earrings, belts, and bags, are fashioned and stitched on-site. They carry many locally and American-made products (as well as a special scented candle, you should ask them about it.) They also conceived of and created most of the design elements in the store, which give the impression of a sort of rustic, flowery dreamscape.
During the pandemic, Claudia explains that locals really have come to the rescue. “The locals are supporting the small businesses and they love it here,” she says. In conversations with locals and visitors, they have determined that La Villita is truly a hidden gem and one of the best kept secrets in San Antonio.
That’s changing as locals rediscover downtown. People are often surprised by the beauty of the historic plazas, the culinary options, and the artisanal offerings made on site. Bobby adds that the experience goes beyond the historic arts village. “Downtown San Antonio is one of the most walkable areas in the country,” he says. “You can go eight blocks in any direction and get puro San Antonio. Yet each direction is totally different. We’re truly eclectic.”
Villa Tesoros is just one of many experiences to be had in La Villita. Be sure to check them out and rediscover your city, history and culture while supporting local micro-businesses.
Centro San Antonio’s Main Street Economic Development Program is part of the City of San Antonio’s Recovery and Resiliency Plan. The Main Street Navigator team conducts outreach to micro and small businesses to provide support and connect them to critical capital and business development resources. If you own a business downtown, contact us at MainStreet@downtownsa.org. For more Main Street resources, please visit centrosanantonio.org/covid19/mainstreet-businesses