Sophie Bolich

South Side Business Will Combine Arts and Cafe

Ms. Yesenia's Creative Studio will offer open mic to create safe space for BIPOC artists.

By - Nov 14th, 2022 05:34 pm
Site of Ms. Yesenia's Creative Studio, 2926 W. Forest Home Ave. Photo taken Nov. 14, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Ms. Yesenia’s Creative Studio, 2926 W. Forest Home Ave. Photo taken Nov. 14, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Maria Yesenia Camacho‘s mom always wanted her to be a nurse, but from the beginning, Camacho knew it wasn’t bodies she wanted to heal — it was communities.

In 2018, Camacho fulfilled her lifelong dream of opening a dance studio, Ms. Yesenia’s Creative Studio. In her next venture, Camacho will continue to expand the southside arts scene with a new cafe and open mic venue in the same building, at 2926 W. Forest Home Ave.

“We’ve noticed there was a need for it,” Camacho said. “We really don’t have anything on the South Side where you can really perform any type of spoken word or any type of arts really. So the purpose right now is to have a space, a very safe space, for our communities here on the South Side.”

The new business is expected to open within the next two months, combining creative coffee drinks and live performances from BIPOC artists, comedians, musicians and poets at a community-oriented, vibrant arts hub in the Layton Park neighborhood.

The menu is still a work in progress, said Camacho, whose vision is to create a lineup of signature coffee beverages, each paired with a shot of liqueur that matches the flavor profile (a carajillo, in Spanish). For example, espresso and Licor 43, which has warm, spicy notes and a hint of vanilla; or iced coffee with a splash of Kahlúa. Eventually, Camacho said she hopes to add packaged snacks such as cookies and pan dulce to the mix.

Cozy beverage in hand, guests can expect to sit and sip in comfort, said Camacho, who envisions creating a “vintagey, luxurious vibe” for her future cafe. “I want it to be comforting and safe,” she said. Complete with velvet couches, the lush space would be “an upscale chill zone,” she added.

The new business would expand on Camacho’s preexisting contributions to the Milwaukee arts scene. A dancer herself, Camacho became an instructor for the Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom & Tap Program. At the time, she also worked for Milwaukee Public Schools as the Community Learning Center Coordinator at Greenfield Bilingual, where many of her students sought out her expertise for choreographing their Quinceañeras.

From there, Camacho moved her growing business into a spare storage room at her husband’s tailoring business on Forest Home Avenue. While hosting choreography classes, Camacho said she often spotted neighborhood children peeking through the door, eager to see what was going on inside the studio.

“I thought, you know, maybe I should offer some dance lessons for the kids in the community,” she said.

The tailoring business, Blest by Campuzano has since relocated a few blocks down the street, leaving Ms. Yesenia’s Creative Studio as the sole occupant of the 4,695-square-foot building.

While Camacho is in the process of reimagining the future cafe space, she continues to host children’s dance classes and the occasional private event in the building.

“I wanted to offer something different,” said Camacho, noting the lack of local coffee shops along Forest Home Avenue. “We have a couple businesses here on Forest Home that I think would really appreciate a coffee shop.”

Aside from coffee and entertainment, the business would also offer resource fairs, networking and wifi for patrons.

“Forest Home Avenue is kinda empty and has so much potential,” Camacho noted in a plan of operation submitted to the city. “I would like Ms. Yesenia Studio to be somewhere where older and younger patrons can come in and learn some type of art form or gather and gain resources to better our community.”

Once open, the cafe portion of Ms. Yesenia’s Creative Studio would be open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information about the business, visit Ms. Yesenia’s Creative Studio on Facebook.

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