CNM and City of Albuquerque Join Forces to Ensure the City’s Artisans Can Still Thrive Online

A joint training program is giving makers and artists the marketing and business tools they need.

While New Mexico may not be widely known for fashion design, among the emerging individuals raising its profile is Andres Sanchez. He’s determined to put the state on the global fashion map.

Born in Española and raised in Albuquerque, Andres, 22, has already designed several lines and thinks New Mexico is primed for smart fashion work. To take his business to the next level, he enrolled in CNM Ingenuity’s IGNITE the FUSE creative business accelerator funded by the City of Albuquerque’s Job Training Albuquerque (JTA) program.

“There weren’t a ton of people I could turn to for business resources, so I enrolled because I knew it was really important that I understand the business aspect of fashion, inside and out,” Andres says.

The program, which started April 21, is running at an interesting time for Andres and his cohort. As the city shut down as a result of COVID-19, most of the spaces where artists and makers sold and displayed their work were closed. That’s affected their bottom line, but it’s also given them the time to focus on the business skills they’re mastering in class.

“It’s actually been a good opportunity for many of the participants to figure out how they can move their businesses online, understand e-commerce sites, learn how to scale, and all the other things they’ll need to thrive once everything opens back up,” says Kerri Eichwald, who runs the IGNITE program.

The creative economy is one area of focus for CNM and the JTA program, which aims to spur small business growth. For this cohort, the city also reached out to their Tipping Points for Creatives Initiative, which is designed to help artists and makers grow to the point where they can make a living from their work.

“This current cohort has been a great win for the City of Albuquerque and CNM because it’s brought together so many different initiatives,” says Carolyn Chavez, who manages the JTA partnership for CNM.

For Andres, the sky’s the limit. He’s coming off two high-end shoe releases, including one called the Lamb that was made in Italy and draws inspiration for its colors and patterns from the New Mexico landscape. He’s got an upcycling line where he’s turning old pants into bags and is also working on a environmentally friendly shoe project that he wants to manufacture in New Mexico.

“I’m taking what I’m learning and trying to create a space where I can grow but also give other people the confidence and space to create,” he says. “I want artists here to be able to represent New Mexico on a whole other level. The talent we have in New Mexico needs to be broadcast to the world.”

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