The Family business is alive and well in Taos
By Dena Miller & Photos By Mike Hawkins
Family-owned businesses are the backbone of this country and one has to look no further than Taos to appreciate the value of their presence. From the food industry to retail venues to coffee shops, it is clear that those who choose to both live here and make their living working with their families lend stability to the community in myriad ways.
Take, for example, husband-and-wife team Jori Jayne Emde and Zakary Pelaccio, who recently opened Corner Office, a natural wines bar with a meticulous and inspired selection of locally seasonal small plates and an experience one guest likened to “just like being in ‘Cheers.’”
“That’s exactly the vibe we hoped to bring here,” Pelaccio said, and Emde agreed, adding, “We have seen complete strangers sitting together and making friends over their wine and food.”
The charming cafe has a laid-back style that reflects the couple’s easy collaboration, perhaps explaining why guests keep returning for more than the spirits and food.
“This is a lifestyle business for us; there is nothing in Corner Office that we either don’t have or wouldn’t have in our own home,” they agreed. “So, yes, we feel like we’re hosting friends and want them to be as comfortable as if they were visiting us at our house.”
Max Jones and Tony Walker, namesakes of the art gallery Jones Walker of Taos, echoed the same sentiments. “What says ‘home’ more than our names on the wall; and anyone who walks in gets treated like we are hosting our friends,” said Jones.
In addition to Jones’ own exuberant art, the gallery represents some of the finest regional artists. And their exceptional brand of “warm welcome” automatically makes everyone feel like a member of the Jones Walker family.
“We made a conscious choice to work together, after years of different careers and only seeing each other in passing,” Walker added. “Even though we find that owning your own business is harder than going corporate, it is infinitely more rewarding,” and a more meaningful connection with the town.
Marie Samora Studio, the eponymous niche jewelry salon, is renowned for contemporary yet timeless designs created from precious metals, diamonds and other stones. The artist — along with her husband, jeweler and photographer Keith Rebholtz — considers the studio an extension of their home.
The couple recalled their children running in and out of the studio. “Their parents aren’t just ‘at the office,’” said Rebholtz. “They know what we do and where we are and they, in their way, are part of it, too.”
“We’ve built a business where many of our clients feel like they are a part of our family, too,” Samora said with satisfaction. “We share inspiration with each other and the community, while still meeting our family’s needs, and there is a strength in that, that overcomes any challenges.”
Kristin Facciolini and Cullen Stevens moved to Taos with the intention of opening a family business, and now they have two: They took over the reins at Clarke & Co. 16 years ago and opened MODA in 2019, in next-door venues at the John Dunn Shops.
“Our customers appreciate the fun and inviting atmosphere we create when working together, bringing clients between the men’s and women’s shops, offering memorable experiences. We’ve had returning customers for 20 years, and many are now our friends,” Facciolini said.
“We curate a unique experience and hand-pick each and every item within our shops. It’s a reflection of who we are and how we present to the community. And working together is how we support each other every day. We are there for each other and being partners, there are no uncomfortable feelings of hierarchy. It’s just us.”
Across the way in the John Dunn Shops, you’ll find Cafe Sagrado, which opened over a year ago and has since become a favorite stop for coffee, tea, pastries and a selection of local crafts.
“The advantage of having a family business is that there is collaboration and support. We work together to make sure it runs smoothly and there is consistency. We love what we do, and it shows,” enthused Cristina Portillo, who noted their business began as a juice bar cart.
“We are part of this community and understand the importance of offering a safe space. We make sure to connect with everyone who walks through our door by acknowledging them.”
And it’s working: This aunt, uncle and niece team report that “Our customer feedback is that the space looks amazing; the coffee is delicious; [we have] beautifully curated gifts and merchandise; and the energy is very welcoming.”
“The community can only benefit from family-owned businesses,” Facciolini emphasized, noting they are invested in successfully serving both locals and visitors, and provide economic stability to public coffers. “Every dollar spent in a locally-owned business stays right here in Taos,” she said proudly, and that, perhaps, is the most compelling reason of all to seek out our family businesses when you shop.
Maria Samora Studio 824 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos 575-751-7103 mariasamora.com Jones Walker of Taos 127 Bent St, Taos 575-758-7965 joneswalkeroftaos.com Clarke & Co. Menswear 120 Bent St, Unit E, John Dunn Shops 575-758-2696 MODA 120 Bent St, Unit F, John Dunn Shops 575-751-7255 Corner Office 122 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Suite C, Taos cornerofficeoftaos.com Cafe Sagrado 124 Bent St, Unit F, John Dunn Shops