Meet The Entrepreneurs Creating Their Own Destiny

By Stephen Montoya
Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Stephen Montoya introduces us to several terrific female business owners from the Albuquerque area.


For Tanya Cole, flowers have always been a passion in one way or another.

Cole, who opened Old Town Flowers last week in the San Felipe del Norte Plaza, said she is excited to be back doing what she loves.

Cole said that after getting a degree in horticulture 30 years ago, she hatched a plan to own her shop one day.
“I worked for other shop owners for a while, until I had a chance to buy my own shop on Central Avenue,” Cole said.

Not long after she had the shop up and running, Cole said, she faced a hard decision: Either keep the shop and miss out on raising her child, or give it up and be the mother she knew she wanted to be.

“For nine years, I was a stay-at-home mom. However, I would still arrange flowers for my friends and family member’s weddings and special events,” she said.

Cole said she always felt like something was missing.

“I had friends ask me if I would do it again and my answer was always ‘yes,’ ” Cole said. “My first business already had an established clientele. This time around, I am starting completely from scratch.”

Cole said she grows some of her own flowers and plans on getting her greenhouse at full capacity in the future.

“I want to bring back what my market analysis has been telling me is a dying business,” she said. “The art of being a local florist will always be something that is important to me.”

Cole said she knows she will have to compete with chain store prices and availability but is optimistic about her business plan.

“I want to specialize in putting together the best flower arrangements for special events, like weddings and anniversaries,” she said. “Now that my door is open, I can’t wait to meet with the diverse group of people that come through here on a regular basis.”

A ribbon of strength
A salon being built in the Cottonwood area spotlights the owner’s personal battle with cancer with logo and name.
Pink Ribbon Nail Salon, which the Journal featured earlier this year, will open before Christmas, according to manager Tina Carmichael.

Carmichael, who has been battling breast cancer for over a year, said starting the business was her way of having a purpose while going through cancer treatment.

“I remember when the doctor called me and told me I had cancer,” she said. “I hung up the phone and rolled up on the floor for, like, 30 minutes. It took a while for me to wrap my head around the idea I was going to die.”

Since her diagnosis, Carmichael has found new strength with her husband and business partner, Joe Nguyen, helping her every step of the way.

“Now I am busy living and want to help other women who have similar situations,” she said. “I want Pink Ribbon to be a place where other women can offer advice, laugh and most importantly cry because it is healing to be surrounded by those who understand this journey.”

The 1,800-square-foot space at 10301 Cottonwood Drive, will offer manicures, pedicures, waxing and artificial nails. Carmichael said she estimates hiring five employees when the store is fully open.

Carmichael said 5 percent of the company’s proceeds will go to help with her cancer treatment.

“I have the energy to be the boss, but I do have to take time to fight daily, too,” Carmichael said.

Birds of a feather
A new store with refurbished old products that have been distressed and repainted with a modern aesthetic is making a mark in the Northeast Heights.

Grey Heron, 9132 Montgomery NE, sells Farmhouse, Modern Farmhouse, French Country and a little Boho Chic style housewares, furniture, clothing and chalk paint supplies.

Owner Kayla Miller, who opened the store in September, said she was apprehensive about starting her own store after many told her how hard it would be.

“Many people told me to be patient because it can take up to a year to get a good clientele,” Miller said. “But since I’ve opened the doors, we’ve haven’t had that problem.”

Miller said she and her husband look for items to refurbish and put in the store. Miller said she has two storage containers full of product, with many of the floor items already sold.

The floor space of Miller’s store is built with movable walls, so customers can experience a different theme each time they enter.

“We have it set up to showcase what a bedroom will look like, and then if we move a wall we will have a living room/dining room setup,” she said. ” We want our customers to envision our products in their homes, so we set it as close a living space as we can.”

Miller will take older dark wood items and distress and paint them herself, offering something new and unique for her clientele.

“We don’t order from a warehouse or distributor,” she said. “When it comes to our furniture, we find it ourselves and salvage it.”

Miller believes in her restoration technique so much that she offers all of the painting supplies she uses in the store, as well as conducting painting workshops once a month.

“When I first opened, I had eight classes in just a couple of weeks, and they were all filled because of the public’s interest in doing refurbishing work themselves,” Miller said.

End of a crystal era
A unique store that specializes in sacred ceremonial objects and healing crystals is closing after 25 years of business.

The Crystal Dove opened in 1993 with a mission of compassion, understanding, love and healing, owner Inga Madsen said in a news release.

In the past year, Madsen’s health deteriorated and she was no longer able to run the store, leaving its fate in the hands of her daughter, Briget Madsen.

“We tried to make a go of it for a while,” Briget Madsen said, but when we got an offer for the building, we decided it was time to close.”

Madsen said that since she has taken over for her mother, many have visited the shop to share fond memories of her mother’s kindness.

She said that what made the shop so unique, besides her mother’s presence, were the items it sold: crystals, chimes, singing bowls and sacred art.

The store also offered holistic remedies and books on healing practices for body and mind.

“My mother, Inga, ended up here in New Mexico in kind of a roundabout way on her way back to California, but ran out of funds and ended up staying,” Madsen said.

Almost by fate, Madsen said, her mother wandered into what would one day be her own business.
“When my mother entered the picture 25 years ago, the shop was called the Rainbow Place, and in the beginning, she kind of volunteered and helped out where she could,” Madsen said.

After several years, the owner sold the store to her mother.

The store scheduled a closing celebration for last Saturday and was expecting hundreds to attend.

“This place will always hold a special place for Inga and for the many who remembered her several years after their encounter with her,” Madsen said.

But she hinted the business may rise again.

“We have had so many people come in and tell us this is the only place in Albuquerque they can get the unique items the store offers,” she said. “So we are looking at our options and weighing what to do in the future.”

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