Silver Sparrow Designs

By Malia Durbano

Kristi Smith took a windy road to owning her own business and creating beautiful jewelry. As a young girl, she enjoyed drawing, painting and all expressive, creative endeavors. Upon discovering beading, she began to make jewelry for everyone she knew. In a high school she took a silver-smithing class at the local community college and knew she had found her true love.

Learning that the equipment to get started was very costly, she took the conventional route and got a practical teaching degree. After four years of teaching, she had a baby and wanted to stay home with her. Miraculously, neighbors and friends and former silver-smiths gifted her with tools and a torch and so her business began. “I decided to call my business Silver Sparrow Designs because of my love of birds, sparrows in particular because they are simple and hardy, not flashy, like my jewelry.

But, shares Kristi, “I’m an artist, not a business person. Joe Keck helped me with all the details of running a business, acquiring the licenses, permits, learning about taxes and the difference between being a sole proprietor and an LLC,etc. He pointed me in the direction of lots of resources and helped me write the business plan.”

The business plan was nothing really formal, but it set me in the right direction and got me started. I took baby steps, and very slowly as I began to sell jewelry, I could buy more of what I needed.”

The most valuable information Smith received from the advice and the classes was, “Just that this was possible! I could start my own business. It wasn’t just some unobtainable dream.” Her etsy business took off right away so she didn’t have to get too involved in learning about the marketing aspect of running a business.

“Owning my own business is the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. The fact that everything falls on me is both a blessing and a curse. If something goes wrong, I’m the one to answer for it and when things go right, as they usually do, I know it’s because of my hard work.”

Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center

By Malia Durbano Many people and organizations came together to bring the Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center to fruition. Ken Charles, with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, read about the proposed center in the Mancos Times. He contacted Brian Hanson, Superintendent of Schools for the Mancos School District and encouraged him to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to build the school. The grant comes from HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban

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Turquoise Raven Gallery: An Unkindness among the Artists

Paintings. Collages. Mosaics. Photography. Glasswork. Drawings. Walking Sticks. Books. Jewelry. Leatherwork. Pottery. These are all things that ignite Mary Fuller’s passion for art. For years, she’s had a vision of bringing artists from the Four Corners together into dedicated fine art gallery. In 2020, after various careers in both the education and nonprofit sector, she decided that it was time to make her dream a reality. Being a former teacher, Mary understood the value of

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Rivendell Education Center

Arawyn Madu taught toddlers for nine years before deciding to open her own center. Three of those were at the Campbell Center at Fort Lewis College. She attended night school for seven years to accumulate the credits required to become a Director of an Early Childhood Education Center in the State of Colorado. When she had the state requirements satisfied, she took the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs Class, “to learn the business side,” she explains.

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Summit Ridge Wood Designs

Tobie Beneli and Lin Grady of Summit Ridge Wood Design (SRWD) shifted their business focus from custom woodworking jobs including commercial and residential cabinetry to primarily building caskets. In 1997, Tobie’s relative passed away. The deceased’s immediate family called and asked Tobie to build a casket. The funeral home would not sell them one because they had an outstanding bill and the director suggested the family make one. Tobie acquired the specific dimensions needed and

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Wily Carrot

Kellie Pettyjohn is the proud owner and founder of The Wily Carrot, an organic farm located in Mancos, CO. She came to the lovely Mancos Valley in 2010 via Washington, D.C., to pursue an idyllic lifestyle, work with her hands in the outdoors and become her own boss. Kellie first got her hands dirty when she tended to two acres of vegetables on Dave Banga’s farm in Montezuma County. She interned with him for a

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Southwest Discovered

Southwest Discovered (SWD) is a weekly blog/mini e-magazine founded by Amy and Jim Dodson. Their passion for the Southwest, along with a ‘forever tourist’ mindset was inspiration for the website. What began as a personal blog about the region’s cuisine evolved into a business. SWD would detail their road trips and experiences, highlighting their discovery of Southwest culture, people and landscapes through art and story. When they were transitioning away from the blog in 2015,

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