It’s Valentine’s month on taoStyle, and right now we all need a whole lotta love (and a little Cashmere and Chocolate) to get through the rest of the Season.
I’ve already featured Haleigh Palmer’s Taos branch of Chocolate and Cashmere here on the blog, but sometimes a day trip to Santa Fe (or Albuquerque) is in order, and Haleigh’s gorgeous Santa Fe shop, is worth the drive alone. This is the second post in an ongoing series I’ll be doing here, tagged Along The Rio, broadening our horizons a bit, but still keeping it local.
The Desert Sprawl creeps ever closer and although we (in Taos) may be Faraway From The Everyday, the world grows smaller by the day and in our neck of the woods especially, we are aware of how we are all intrinsically connected, along the Rio or further afield. Hence my new category; Wanderings.
Last week, as I traveled back to Taos from NYC where I spent ten inspiring days, Bill Curry spent the afternoon photographing Haleigh and her Santa Fe establishment. When he sent me the photographs I lit up like a kid in a virtual candy store! I was hard pressed to choose but a few so I’ve packed this post with eye candy. I apologise for the utter lack of discipline.
Before I left for the City, I met with Haleigh for a coffee at World Cup to discuss the post and ask a few new questions. Well with her adorable new puppy in tow (a golden retriever/poodle mix), that proved to be an impossibility so we decided on this (Q&A) format instead. She eventually decided to get some puppy pads for her dog as she spent most of her time cleaning up the wee it left behind. Seems to have worked ok so far. Although some of this was covered in the previous post, there’s nothing like getting it directly from the source! One thing I have told her she needs to get is pet insurance from somewhere like Pets Best, because she needs to ensure that she and her puppy are covered for vet bills if anything unexpected goes wrong!
Q) Your shop in Taos has been featured on the blog before, it’s on Bent St and is a destination spot for locals and visitors alike, can you tell us a bit about when and why you decided to open in Santa Fe?
A) As a New Mexican and having lived my whole life in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Taos, Santa Fe intrigued me as my own “local” bucket list. I recognize that the whole world visits Santa Fe and that at certain times the streets can seem like New York City. So many people! I recognize that our business is unique and that Santa Fe may just love something fresh. It was a risk and I felt good about it.
Q) I recall you mentioning that the Santa Fe location of Chocolate and Cashmere is located in a building with some history. Could you elaborate?
A) Yes, 109 East Palace was the secret corridor for everyone headed to the Manhattan Project. Robert Oppenheimer held his local office there. All of the mail for the lab was sent there; anyone coming to work would come there first before being escorted to their secret location in Los Alamos.
Q) The concept of two luxury items – cashmere and chocolate – being sold together is brilliant and quite novel – how did you come up with that idea?
A) I started Golightly Cashmere in 2004, the year my son was born. I had always generated the business via the New Yorker ad (she placed early on), and it amazed me that people would buy our product sight unseen, year after year. I thought, what if my customers could actually see what they were buying, touch and feel it? I imagined it would be a smash. Knowing however that cashmere was seasonal; I knew it required a pairing of some sort. Gratefully, the idea of chocolate came together upon meeting some amazing chocolatier friends. It was a leap, but I thought – we thought it was clever.
Q) You live in Taos with your husband and son, can you tell us a bit about your life – how you manage being a wife, mom AND run two businesses at the same time?
A) It is most certainly a family business. My husband and I manage it together. We have incredible employees; our production crew has been with us for 10 years. Everybody knows how to do just about everything. We are family (at Chocolate and Cashmere), so we exploit our strengths to make the company work. The hardest part has been parting from Taos on a daily basis, especially when it’s snowing. My husband and I are both ski bums and we prioritize skiing in a way that we don’t hire skiers so we don’t have to compete for who gets to go skiing. Everybody understands this and we work together so everyone has quality of life and enjoys the work.
Q) You have recently acquired a puppy as well – I’m in awe of your energy and ability to juggle all these responsibilities…What’s your secret?
A) The puppy has certainly added a new level of attention to the mix. I’ve spent so long looking at amish dog kennels and dog toys as I want her to feel loved and well looked after. She means the world to me! The funny thing is she just loves to play with our newest product– the pom-pom. She has proven we made a great product because she hasn’t been able to destroy it. The cute factor is over the top. We have been using her in some of our marketing efforts and we figure eventually she will be the store’s tourist “therapy” dog. “Her name is Maizy.” She often wanders around the store, which initially I was a little worried about considering she could have made a mess everywhere, but I’ve just made sure to take tips and tricks from websites like PupsterPassion.com about cleaning up after a dog, and apply them to the store clean at the end of the day!
Q)You started this business with a hat that you sold online – can you explain how you got here from there and tell us what’s next for Golightly Cashmere?
A) The business has grown incrementally because the product is so good. Year after year, customers come back. They tell their friends, so it is steady and solid and it doesn’t change with the trends. For me, to stay inspired, I am constantly imagining new products and new ways to present them. The stores just had to be born because my favorite subject has always been interior design. I love to create space. This way, I was able to manage a living while exploring my additional passions. My biggest worry when we opened to store was being able to keep us with the “what’s next” question. We invested in some new machinery and made the men’s sweater and the pom-pom last year. What’s next? It is the Year of the Sweater. Finally, we have the resources and the experience to create a line of women’s sweaters. It’s been a long time coming because standard sizing is difficult and pleasing everyone even more. But, we are extremely excited about it. They will be classic designs with a quality of our “Standard”… Hand-loomed and Made in the USA as well. We are also working on some more space-making in the Santa Fe store, doing some new “space” projects to create the perfect space for trying on and buying these sweaters.
Thanks Haleigh! And thank you Bill!
If you are visiting Taos or shopping for that special someone, do make it a point to stop in to Chocolate and Cashmere here or (if you are driving through or staying in Santa Fe), there!
For more about Golightly Cashmere and Chocolate and Cashmere, please visit their site below.
Photographs by Bill Curry