Blue Gecko Southwest – Chapter 2

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.