It all started…
When I first moved to New Mexico years ago and lived in the home of all things UFO – Roswell. Growing up in Atlanta and traveling around the world, I had seen some amazing things…but never wide open spaces that made you feel small. Eventually, having moved in and out of the state, I decided to finally move to New Mexico ‘permanently’…I was hooked. They don’t call it the Land of Entrapment for nothing. Whenever people visit me here in Northern New Mexico, they tell me ‘this place is so different, like a another planet, another country…it makes me feel so small.’
From the plains to desert to wilderness to mountains, it’s a beautiful place. But, it’s also wild, in a way that no other place is like it in America. It’s still the wild west here – it’s still dangerous – you are still free and you live how you want to live and no one bothers you. For me, having spent most of my life in cities and living in cities, wanting some freedom – it was home.
Years later, having moved from Roswell to ABQ, I decided to go to this big volcano plug called Cabezon Peak. I wanted to climb it – it’s 2000 ft high and has a little Lord of the Rings like path up it. The first time I got stuck, the second time I went with my hiking partner, Marissa, and she coaxed me up it. So far I had climbed 11k, 12k, even 14k, but Cabezon – it scared me. At the same time, it taught me something – no where back ‘home’ in Atlanta could I have this feeling of freedom, or challenge, or doing what I wanted.
People would come visit, they would say, ‘I wish I could take this feeling back with me.’ I started looking for a way to do it. For years I had run different companies, producing knowledge products, but never physical products – something you could hold in your hand that created a memory – a feeling…an experience. If only that existed.
An odd friendship
A year or so later I was looking for furniture for the house and I was introduced to Jesus – who makes our furniture. An odd friendship was formed over the injured puppy he had (looong story). I would buy stuff from him and sell it to friends of mine on occasion…it was a good little side gig and led me to learn more about the place I loved so much. A lot of the time I would just put it in the house (my house is pretty cool). He told me about other people I could find some things from, people who would buy stuff and try to resell it. In broken English, Spanish, and the odd Navajo, we developed a good working relationship – and friendship.
Then one day, while a friend was visiting from Atlanta they asked me, ‘how could I get a cabinet like that? If I put it in my house, it would remind me of here…’
An idea was born…I finally had a way of bringing that feeling of freedom, of the West, back to Atlanta. I figured out how to ship the cabinet to Atlanta. I was suddenly exporting from New Mexico to another state. The question became, ‘how much would I do this?’
That idea became Explores. Translated to English, it means ‘you explore.’ I wanted people to feel like they were discovering something new with our products…the stories behind them, the artists, the processes, the places. Most of all I wanted them to feel a part of something bigger, where they were a trailblazer, someone exploring while everyone else went to Ikea (which I love btw, but it’s not the same).
I went to Atlanta with photos of some of our goods in hand and showed them around – immediately people wanted to buy, and a place I used to walk through on occasion, Paris on Ponce, asked if I wanted to rent a space and they would help promote. Synergy, as Werner Erhard would say. I had a logo designed – something that would encourage me, and I put Cabezon peak right in the middle to remind me of challenges bested. So, after a long time of prayer and planning (not sure which I did more), a lot of introductions to a lot of different artists, expensive lessons learning what was real and fake in the world of antique goods, self-financing for inventory and shipping in a moving truck, I was getting ready.
After a lot of time writing out my plans in my notebook from on top of different mountains, I called Skip at Paris on Ponce and said let’s do it. I signed a lease…we were in business in another state.
Today we are in full swing, with a business in NM and a shop and a satellite shop in Atlanta. We keep a lot of artists fed in New Mexico and make a lot of people smile in Atlanta when the ‘people from New Mexico’ come in with our boots and turquoise. We are bringing our story to you…so when you buy from us, these goods become your story. The sandpainting of Linda, the furniture of Jesus, the paintings by Randall, the ceramics of Colleen, cowboy ropes from Marc, and many other artists. Their story is one you will be able to tell anyone who sees what you have…