I gave up a few years ago trying to post/email a Happy New Year update on January 1st, I'm usually exhausted for a few weeks. I also have my yearly visit with my oncologist in January so I feel better writing a New Year’s post after that visit - this year that appointment has been moved to March.
The Enchanted Sugar store is and always will be a community of artists working together, encouraging each other, sharing resources, and providing additional opportunities. Who would have ever thought that a virus would shut us down not once, but twice?
Through all of this, my store grew to 119 artists from around New Mexico, and for many, it was the only physical location that they had to sell their art - all of our beloved local events disappeared into the COVID-19 mist.
A huge challenge this year was obtaining supplies, basic supplies. When you make an item by hand, you need containers and ingredients. If you made anything skincare-related, by the end of March you were out of luck if you needed any size of plastic bottles, lids, pumps, and sprayers. Every distributor in the country ran out of supplies, so when I created a hand sanitizer, I quickly sold out when I ran out of containers.
My fellow artist and friend, Robin Goddard traded bottles and lids with me so I could fill orders for customers. A local UPS hub closed down for 2 weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak, so if your supplies were showing they were in Albuquerque, you couldn’t get them. Who knew it would be so hard to receive lids for my candles? “In Transit” has become my least two favorite words to read.
In late November my glass distributor ran out of glass (for all of my candles) until January. Manufacturing has slowed all across the country and it has a ripple effect down to small businesses like mine. December is the busiest month of the entire year for candle sales, so the cases of glass I had in stock were nowhere near enough to fill online orders, wholesale orders, my store, and local deliveries. I had to buy from another source at twice the price and I was thankful that I was able to do that.
Enchanted Sugar still managed to give away 262 body balms and over 1,000 hand sanitizers to cancer patients/survivors, nurses and other essential workers, and our customers. I’m especially proud of our artists who made the most gorgeous face masks you’ve ever seen! The Enchanted Sugar store carries the largest selection of face masks in Albuquerque, created by 7 different artists -- these artists also donated over 3,000 masks to the State of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque, local hospitals, and essential workers. Brittney, Susie, Elvia, Wendy, Devonne, Donna, and Lola (a local high school student) -- you are all amazing.
As I write about these challenges, I am so grateful that my business has survived. I owe a great amount of thanks to Ali, my right hand at Enchanted Sugar for all of her hard work and dedication. There is a great amount of work that goes into the prep and post candle production process, and because of Ali, Enchanted Sugar was able to fill our online and delivery orders. We shipped, offered curbside pick-up, and delivered hundreds of local orders (although not always in a timely manner).
A special thanks to Donna Medina, who has been my friend since we were in college and is a fifth-generation weaver from Abiquiu, she has been working for Enchanted Sugar for years and always comes in to help whenever I need her; to Brittney, an amazing artist who volunteered her time to sell art for other artists; to Susie, an artist who would bring me lunch and a smile; and to my dearest friend Wendy who always listened to me whenever I needed her.
Through all of this, I can’t tell you how much I have missed my daughter, Jessie, and my dad, who live in different states. I reminded myself that it’s not about this year but the rest of our lives. Many times this last year I have broken into tears due to the sheer exhaustion of working 16-18 hour days and missing my daughter and dad so much, I just wanted to drive the 10 hours to Texas to see Jessie and hug her. Don’t you miss hugging?
When retail stores were shut down again in November - during Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, I wasn’t sure that we would reopen the rest of the year. I am fortunate that my brother and sister-in-law are nearby. They cheerfully cooked for me and made me wonderful cocktails while I processed Black Friday orders I received online for three days. Thank you, Steve and Terri!
When retail stores were able to reopen on December 3rd, I wasn’t sure if customers would come to the mall, but you did. Not only did you come, but customers would walk in and say, “I’m only buying local.”
So many friends of mine have had family members and loved ones die due to COVID-19, so I have never thought for one minute during all of this that I personally had anything to complain about.
There have been many angels to small business owners like me. Dean from the Southwest Chocolate and Coffee Fest sold scrumptious boxes filled with products from local artisans, Sandia Band Boosters linked our websites by email and social media, the Rail Yards Market ABQ had their first virtual Holiday Market and the New Mexico Artisan Market featured local artists at the Sawmill Market -- thank you for including Enchanted Sugar!
The CABQ Economic Development Department, Bernalillo County NM, and the New Mexico Economic Development Department gave grants and low-interest loans to so many small business owners throughout the State and New Mexico True provided updates on resources available to small business owners.
Here is what I know for sure - there is so much kindness, generosity, and goodness in New Mexico and around the country. If you love a local business, share it, comment, and promote them on your social media -- it is such a great help to them! I received amazing emails from so many of my customers filled with generous and supportive words, thanking me for filling their home with the scents of New Mexico, so many could not travel home for the holidays. Thank you for taking the time to do that - it meant so much.\
So here is where I will humbly say THANK YOU.
Thank You for your orders, Thank You for not asking for a refund when it took weeks to fill your order while I waited for glass, tins, containers, and lids (and sometimes not being able to fill orders completely or getting it wrong) and waiting another 3 weeks to receive it by USPS. I lost track of how many apology emails I sent out.
As many of you know, I am a breast cancer survivor, so every day, especially this past year, I have reminded myself of one single fact -- I am alive, and as long as I keep moving forward, everything is going to be just fine.
My heart is full with the kindness and generosity I received from so many of you, thank you for supporting my dream.