Blue Feather Takes Flight, Makes Waves in Online Bodycare Market
What began as a hobby for Gillian Fryer in 2000 has flourished into a growing business that hails from headquarters in Taos. She started experimenting with lip balm recipes when she was living in Las Cruces, and quickly expanded into soap and lotions. Selling at the farmers markets in Mesilla and Las Cruces gave way to participating in craft fairs around the state.
After moving back to Taos permanently in 2012, Fryer and her husband Dan Bradford settled in with dual goals—building the business, and building the local collective economy in Taos. Fryer started attending Taos Entrepreneurial Network (TEN) meetings in 2012 when she moved back to town. She gives credit to TEN’s hands-on workshops as vital for helping her grow the business quickly.
“I’ve had so much support from the Regional Development Corporation and Taos TEN—much more than I was used to receiving when I lived down south,” said Fryer. “I love Taos because it’s full of artists, creative people and people who buck the system.
Blue Feather is gaining significant market share in the charcoal toothpaste product category. Their Black Magic natural coconut soap-based charcoal toothpaste is their flagship product and best-seller. The benefits of using charcoal toothpaste include whitening, removing stains and cleaner-feeling teeth.
Fryer believes she can leverage the success she is having with Black Magic toothpaste into even more of the organic toothpaste market, noting that when they expand to selling it nationally they could tap as much as 10 percent market share. She projects that when they can scale up, it will create up to 12 jobs over four years in Taos.
Right now, Blue Feather’s primary outlets are health food stores in New Mexico and west Texas, as well as their e-commerce website and their own small retail shop in Taos. The shop in Taos is located at 1 Cielo Dulce Road, El Prado, between downtown and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. In addition to these outlets, Blue Feather has been signing private-label contracts for salons and is focused on expanding the wholesale end of the business.
Fryer has a long-term vision of how Taos could evolve. Citing other light manufacturers in the area—Taos Mountain Energy Foods, Taos Mesa Brewing, Private Label Select—she sees this sector as vibrant, growing and vital to the future of Taos.
“What I envision when I think of what could happen here in Taos is that if we can do this [with Blue Feather], not only will it bring jobs and light manufacturing to New Mexico but it will encourage others to start or relocate their business here, too.”
She’s also excited about the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF), a program administered by the RDC that provides non-dilutive seed financing to manufacturing and technology companies. Blue Feather was a VAF applicant this year, seeking funding to scale up their production with equipment purchases. While not selected for funding this round, Blue Feather is receiving assistance from the RDC, Taos TEN and is poised to leverage this with other economic development agencies in the state to prepare them for the next round of applications.
“I haven’t really felt this level of support in years,” said Fryer. “The fact that [the RDC] is so supportive is what’s driving me. I really appreciate having them as my advocate.”
Visit www.bluefeathersoap.com for more information on the company.