Moving Forward: YSLASH Artistic Freedom Awaits You!

Written by Judy Salamacha

March 1, 2024

Carocha receives Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Spotlight Award. Photo submitted

Have you noticed an energy vibe sparking among the businesses in downtown Morro Bay? There’s something fun going on – sometimes regularly, sometimes randomly, and usually scheduled enough in advance to be able to get involved. In my humble opinion, the energy was ignited during 2020-21 when newer businesses brainstormed with longer standing businesses to create new activities to attract more visitors – especially after-hours.  

One of the newer businesses to contribute to Morro Bay’s nightlife is YSLASH Carocha’s Gallery & Art Studios that opened May 20, 2023. Artist/owner Carocha hosts her unique concept of artistic get-togethers at her studio mid-block on Monterey just south of Morro Bay Blvd. or at various satellite locations as scheduled. For example, classes are held at Legends located on the corner of Main and Harbor every other Thursday and the last Wednesday of each month. www.YSLASH.NET.   

“I truly believe we’re all artists at heart,” Carocha said. “I want to help find that artist inside of each of us.” 

At either location, Carocha offers themed art classes. “I don’t have models or do demonstrations. I provide all they will need to paint for the two-hour session.” 

When participants sign up, they are asked to ponder the theme provided. When the class starts, the group – maximum 12 – discusses the theme for five minutes. 

“Their art will need to come from their heart, their feelings,” said Carocha. “It will be their artistic interpretation of the theme.” 

However, once the class starts Carocha throws in her “curve ball secret theme” to challenge them and probe further creativity. Students then have two hours to express what they are feeling abstractly or by image they have visualized. Carocha guides, cajoles, and documents each participants’ creative journey with photographs. Time at the end is reserved for all to share how their painting has expressed the theme and congratulate each other for creating their custom originals.  

Carocha added, “Classes can be an emotional roller coaster. I try to help them discover what’s deep inside and capture it on the canvas.” It made me wonder if that was why adult beverages were included!  

Carocha’s students share their final art after a YSLASH lesson at Carocha’s Gallery & Studio. Photo submitted

Another activity she produces is the “Artist Day to Shine.” She features someone in the area, typically outside of Morro Bay, that produces an art form other than acrylics – Carocha’s medium. It might be dance, oils, Henna, etc. The guest artist will share their artistic story, demonstrate their art form, and be available for questions. Carocha’s goal is to build community and share common creative experiences.  

It wasn’t until 2015 that Carocha discovered Morro Bay. After working 24/7 for a privately owned pharmaceutical company in Hollywood for 14 years, she had achieved senior health advisor status and exceeded her client sales goals, so she celebrated her 40th birthday in Morro Bay with friends. “We took a walk about midnight, and I know you have heard this from others, but Morro Rock called me. I knew I’d be back.”  

As she continued to recruit and stabilize her core client repeat-business, she kept her eyes open for lease space. She thought she wanted just enough space for her personal working gallery. 

“I’ve always been an artist,” she said. When the Monterey site came up, “I jumped on it.” But then she needed a place to live. She commuted from Atascadero for five months until housing became available near her gallery. It was during this time the concept of sharing her studio space came to her. She decided to offer classes, but with her unique concept and a goal to have fun while probing creativity. Her marketing flyer promises, “Artistic Freedom Awaits You!! Come Paint with Us and Release the Artist Hidden Inside of You!” 

Through networking at chamber of commerce events and meetings with South Bay Women’s Network members, she quickly adapted her themed art classes to produce at other venues and special events.  

It is notable that in less than a year YSLASH Carocha’s Gallery & Art Studios has attracted enough business to warrant a fulltime employee. Some folks will recognize Lizzy Palm as the former manager of the Libertine. Currently closed for reconstruction, Lizzy had some time and had taken some classes. She is in the gallery from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. fulfilling the role as Scheduling Ninja while Carocha is out growing new business.  

Frankly, Carocha has impressed many how she has grown so quickly. It is textbook business marketing 101. First and foremost, she believes in networking with fellow businessowners, so she immediately joined and more importantly started attending Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Members Mixers, monthly breakfasts, and became an active member of the Ambassador Committee. She also joined the South Bay Women’s Network, a constant source of referrals.   

“I give out business cards and flyers to everyone,” Carocha said. “My friend Lisa Law suggested I could attend the Morro Bay City Council meeting. It is televised. At the beginning of the meeting, I had three minutes to talk about my business. The councilmembers were excited I was offering activities in the evening.”  

She enjoys saying she’s a frequent client at ASAP-Reprographics in Morro Bay. “Jim is very helpful with all my flyer ideas and offered a locals’ discount.” She originally took flyers to all the businesses in Morro Bay to introduce herself. The next step was to hit the hotels to offer their guests activities downtown in the evening.  

Originally from Connecticut, Carocha has been an account executive in sales her entire adult career. In 2010 she bought a one-way ticket to Hollywood, CA and created financial sustainability, which allowed her to settle in Morro Bay in 2023 and follow her passion. Building business, however, is what Carocha does.  It’s in her DNA to create business relationships, but this time she is creating personal balance, creating her own art for sale or commission, and building new friendships in the art and business world of Morro Bay.  

She strongly believes that businesses bring in more clients when involved with their business community. She also believes business owners need to be present, get involved, give to get back and be aware of the benefits these organizations can offer.  

“I enjoy introducing art to those who don’t always believe they can create.” 

Check out Facebook/Instagram under YSLASH Carocha’s Gallery and Art Studio to see what some of her growing creative community members are saying.  

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