Job title(s) and responsibilities: "Owner of Francesca's Clothing Boutique in Arroyo Seco, winner of Best of Taos 10 years in a row. As a small business owner, I am not only the buyer and the seller, but also business planner, human resources, customer service and marketing."
How many years in present occupation/business endeavor?
"For almost 17 years now. I was raised in Great Neck, Long Island and brought up in the women’s clothing business. My mother was a famous New York clothier, and my father was a women’s sportswear manufacturer. I attended Manhattan’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the largest fashion schools in the world and a breeding ground for upcoming New York designers and entrepreneurs.
"Following graduation, I managed a boutique on Madison Avenue for several years. I eventually moved back to Long Island to start a family for the next 20 years. During that time, I opened my own gem and mineral businesses until a stranger offered to buy the store in 1999.
"I had been visiting New Mexico for 20 years, buying Native American arts in Santa Fe, Taos, Gallup and Shiprock. After selling my New York store, I set out on an extended vacation to see my daughter Liz, who was living in Arroyo Seco, and her grandson, Judah, who was born in Taos.
"When my mother came to New Mexico, Liz suggested that I rent an empty building in Arroyo Seco — once known as the post office — and open a new store. Leaving my other daughter Melissa, who was a college student learning massage therapy, and my granddaughter Maya in New York, I moved to Arroyo Seco. Now Melissa and Maya live in New Mexico, too. By November 2000, I was back in business in a completely new setting."
What lessons have you learned in your career that have influenced the advice you would lend to girls/women who want a career in your industry?
"I had no idea what I was going to do. My father had always said, "You gotta get the big idea, the whole purpose of what you’re doing." I realized that I should return to my roots and go back into clothing. The local women here needed reasonably priced clothing and fashionably fun designs. All this time, I was thinking about my mother and her successful business and what she would do. My big idea was to offer imported and unusual women’s clothing, with most items priced under $50, in a cute boutique with a down-home atmosphere.
So, I returned to my old stomping grounds, New York City’s famed Garment District, to be inspired.
I had "the big idea," but I didn’t know if it would work out or not. I opened with a small stock of imported clothing, and I had a huge response from the Taos locals and tourists. I was working seven days a week to figure out the rhythm of things. All the while, my mother was watching me from a photo on the shelf. The rest is history."
What advice would you give girls/women who want to pursue a similar career?
"You gotta get the big idea and go for it."
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace/women who want to start their own businesses?
"Don't be intimidated and follow your truth."
Who do you admire and why?
"Always a fan of Jackie Kennedy, and my mother was the best in her field and I was her shadow."