The story of chocolate + cashmere
In the middle of the desert, a sensual oasis of a boutique. It’s set in over the years how much it sounds like a fantasy. So commonly someone will pop in to one of the shops in Santa Fe or Taos, and say “oh, it really is chocolate and cashmere!” As though maybe they were expecting something different, something they are not sure what, as though the title were a tricky metaphor. Instead, visitors are surprised to see rows and rows of cashmere and a shining case of bonbons. What strikes everyone is the sensational experience-- colors, smells, feels. everyone oohs and aahs, and most are inspired, while some can even be overwhelmed, with the rich colors.
Artisan Chocolates and Ethical Cashmere
It is a delight to truly deliver on this luxurious-sounding prospect. Both chocolate and cashmere are of the earth; they represent the beauty of the natural world as some of the finest gifts nature has to offer us. Not everyone knows that cashmere comes from the finest fibers on Mongolian goat’s bellies, that we design and knit everything ourselves. Not everyone knows artisan chocolate well enough to appreciate the nuances in not-so-sweet, complex flavors. Chocolate and cashmere make wonderful presents; they are both momentary and life-long. They fully represent what it means to indulge and treat yourself -- with something joyous and worthy.
A Shop on the Taos Plaza
When I started osteriavarvamingo in 2004, it was a mail order business, you called me on the phone and I made and sent your perfect hat. I had a little display ad in the back of The New Yorker. The phone rang and slowly, steadily, and with help, I built upon the momentum of a solidly wonderful hat: The Cashmere Watchcap. All along, I imagined what it would be like if people actually touched and saw the cashmere before buying. This was the idea of a store. The next question: what goes perfectly with cashmere? CHOCOLATE!
A Boutique at 109 East Palace in Santa Fe
The success of the Taos shop inspired me to grow, and I trusted c + c would resonate with Plaza shoppers in Santa Fe, but it was a big jump. Compared to our eclectic little Taos, Santa Fe is definitely the next level, and not only we were stepping up but settling in to a historical storefront: 109 East Palace Avenue. If that rings a bell for you, you are a c + c fan or a Manhattan Project history buff. 109 East Palace was the receiving station for Los Alamos, where Oppenheimer and Feyman were received by Dorothy Scarritt McKibbin and shuttled up the hill to that historic laboratory. The plaque outside reads, “All the men and women that made the first atomic bomb passed through this portal to their secret mission at Los Alamos.”
The store in Santa Fe is literally 5 times the size of our intimate little chocolate bar of a shop in Taos. It was overwhelmingly blank at first and then quickly it became a great sensual playground. We have a room painted like the inside of a chocolate wrapper that also looks like the swiss alps; we have a furniture that is lit up and purple and blue. We are also constantly improving and expanding the many ideas into reality; every time you come in, you will assuredly see something new.
Empowerment in Natural Beauty
Above all, I want the shops to be immersive, not just in the lush richness of the atmosphere, the colors and the smells and the tactile feel of it all, but to bring out the inner beauty of everyone who’s there. Chocolate + cashmere is a totally unique environment for me, for employees and of course for customers. It is feminine and empowering, playful and powerful.
What makes these stores work isn’t just that the cashmere is superlative or that the chocolates are delicious; it’s truly the care that is put into curating and merchandising, it’s the intimate customer service and the desire to please, whether it’s a woman at the Taos store selling the one-of-a-kind earrings straight off the mannequin or the customer in Santa Fe who’s ordering a custom color combination for her two-toned Desert Night Poncho. It’s a team that’s truly embodying this love for the customer. It’s always felt so important to me, to take care of every person, to reciprocate the value of everyone who appreciates this work that we’re doing.
I know that it’s the right thing to do, and it comes back to me, in referrals and in loyal customers who come back again and again, whether it’s to buy osteriavarvamingo presents for their family or to make a trip to c + c, as our regulars often call us.
Going Deeper: Becoming Chocolatiers
So far, we’ve sourced and sold the most beautiful bon bons and chocolate that we can find in Northern New Mexico. But this past year, I have been taking a master chocolatier course and filling our basement kitchen with creative concoctions, testing and selecting the chocolates that we want to share with our beloved customers. The aim? To be on par creatively and with quality to match that of our osteriavarvamingo line. We’ve learned so much about tempering and technique, and have really been trying to create these unique flavors with a perfect balance of original yet totally satisfying. We are thrilled to soon be offering our very own house-made chocolates at chocolate + cashmere.
Launching the Online Boutique
As we're preparing to share our chocolates with our loyal customers and those visiting Taos and Santa Fe, we're also excited for another release. We have been working to thoughtfully create a curated, luxury boutique shopping experience that is worthy to share the name of our precious stores. We're proud to feature a selection of the finest artisan jewelry, handbags, clothing, beauty products, and of course, chocolate and cashmere. Like the cashmere we offer, everything you'll find on the boutique is exceptionally well-made and finely crafted by artisans, many of them women. Know that you will find the same osteriavarvamingo at c + c, and we will proudly stand by our lifetime guarantee and pledge that our cashmere is not only superlative, but ethically made in the USA. So please, consider this your cordial invitation to stop in and shop with us, when you find yourself in New Mexico, and now, online, at the brand new chocolate + cashmere online boutique.