Sometimes, success brings its own challenges for small businesses, but with the support of Laboratory operator Triad, the Regional Development Corporation recently helped a growing Northern New Mexico manufacturer as they struggled to meet demand for their handcrafted product.
About 30 years ago, Stella Trujillo loaded up the trunk of her car and drove from her small studio in Nambé to Gabriel’s restaurant to make her first sale. Light Styles of Santa Fe was born, making handcrafted Southwest-style ceramic light fixtures.
When Stella passed away in 2017, her daughter Susie Trujillo-Martinez and Susie's husband Dominic Martinez honored Stella’s legacy by throwing themselves into the business despite having their own full-time jobs, ensuring the company Stella created would thrive and also continue to benefit the local community.
Through hard work the couple exceeded all expectations, eventually establishing a storefront/production facility near Stella’s original studio in Pojoaque.
In addition to their own storefront gallery, the company’s products are stocked in over 60 Home Depot stores throughout New Mexico and Arizona, and they were recently added to Home Depot’s website making them available throughout the continental U.S. as the only U.S.-based supplier of handcrafted ceramic light fixtures represented on the website.
Light Styles of Santa Fe’s direct-to-consumer demand has also increased significantly since the pandemic.
RDC to the rescue
In order to fulfill the significant growth, the company applied for and was awarded the Regional Development Corporation’s 2022 Technological and Manufacturing (TEAM) Fund no-interest loan. With this loan, which is supported by Laboratory operator Triad, they purchased a kiln, a compressor and a clay/slip pump allowing them to increase production efficiency and meet demand.
Owners Susie and Dominic are hands-on, doing everything from pouring the clay to shipping the boxes to the stores. Although they have been able to hire great employees, both Susie and Dominic still find themselves working after hours and all weekend so the business can keep growing.
Their plan is to retire from their full-time jobs and focus on Light Styles of Santa Fe, as a passion and a labor of love that they want to build for the next generation of their family, their employees, their employees’ families and the broader community of Northern New Mexico.
> Learn more about the RDC’s support options for small businesses in Northern New Mexico.