Finally in New Mexico! I was so excited. We “settled” in Rio Rancho while I started work and we searched for a more permanent home. Finally able to start putting roots down. I was working 40+ hours a week at my job but still needed to “create” in order to stay sane! As the inventory started to pile up I realized I needed to start looking for shows and markets. I also started a “new line” of products – Southwest print scrub tops. I was working in the medical field and could not find those prints anywhere, and I certainly was not a puppy dog and kitten type of person! I found a couple of places for the fabric and started making my own scrubs. Soon other people were asking about them. I knew I had another popular item.
I started looking for markets and shows. Fortunately, the Albuquerque area was a great venue – most of the schools and churches had shows almost all year round. I found that the high school shows were great because there were always students available to help carry in the bins. A new outdoor market was also in the start-up mode in Rio Rancho – Idalia Road Marketplace. The owners were great and I started doing that market every weekend. It was outdoors so we had all the wind, sun, heat and even cold on the weekends. But it was a great start to networking with other vendors and learning about new places, and also a great place to sell my items. There were some Sundays when there were only 2 of us there selling, but I learned NOT to close up shop early, because some of my better sales were at the end of the day. Since this market was not open after October, I could do the holiday school and church shows each year.
Networking was to become a big item on my list of things to do as we settled in. I needed to expand where I was going and what I was doing. One of the really great monthly networking meetings in Albuquerque was “Women Make a Difference”. LOTS of folks to meet and talk to. It became one of my monthly adventures. You could also rent a table area so that others could see what you did, and there were speakers at each meeting. The door prizes were always the best part and I made sure that Blue Gecko Southwest participated in that. I did meet a person who helped me design my business cards that I am still using to this day. These cards are now my “brand” (we will talk about branding in another post!). I even had my booth banner made with the blue gecko emblem. People in the area started recognizing it and I soon was the Blue Gecko person.
When I did a school show about 5 years into my NM adventure, a lady saw my fleece jackets (SW print naturally!) and cried out “Blue Gecko! I have been searching for you!” She bought 2 jackets. So it was working – the shows, the networking, the market. I started to have folks return regularly for my soaps, jackets, and other items I sold. I even have jackets and tote bags that are in France and Germany! I was building my base and really enjoying myself. Experimenting with new “recipes” for the soaps and sugar scrubs and finding new SW designs for the fleece jackets, scrubs and blankets. I did a lot of beading – one-of-a-kind was my mantra. If you liked something I made – that was it – I only made one of it. I hated production work.
During this time I also explored new ways to do things and new things to do. And was I ever in the right place to find all sorts of ideas! I was living in the best Southwest area to explore ideas! Rio Grande jewelry was in Albuquerque and I took several classes on metalsmithing. Just learning new crafts was exciting. The Air Force base also had a crafts shop and I was learning stained glass techniques. There was a hospital in Santa Fe that did an indoor vendor show every Friday and Saturday – I discovered that I really liked the idea of 2 day shows – set-up and breakdown was not so burdensome.
As with everything I do, there is a big pause – I will never say “ending”. We had been in the area for 6 years and decided that we would try something different. We sold everything in the 2000 sq. ft. house (except for imprortant stuff that went into storage), bought a 5th Wheel and started our next adventure.