What do you do when you're self-employed, and the pandemic causes your source of income to dry up? Cheyenne and I have a friend who owns Belle Couturiére Alterations in Denver. Not too many weddings right now. So what did Bradi MacSlayne do? She started making and selling PPE masks—snazzy ones. You can order them here. Another artist friend, Sonja Horoshko, also began making masks in the first month of Stay at Home, which helped her make her mortgage payment. Hers were made from Bluebird flour sacking—an iconic Southwest fabric. She also makes beautiful, unique prayer flags, thinking we are going to need more prayers in these times. Sonja thought the Post Office's shipping charge for a single cloth mask was excessive, but then she pointed out that it helps keep the Post Office open. Such an essential consciousness. I ordered a mask from both of these friends. So now I can trade off and be in high fashion! 'Cause you know that's a great concern of mine!
These are the kinds of loving things people are doing in the Time of Corona. Creating an alternative economy while Staying Home and helping save lives with masks and...by Staying Home.
There is also the giving economy. My friend Beck Touchin of Laguna Pueblo together with New Mexico Seamstresses United, has donated handmade masks to Alamo Navajo Chapter, Zuni Pueblo, and UNM Hospital. And I got my first mask as a gift from my friend Karen Ulack––pink with white polka dots.
Speaking of keeping the Post Office open, I was notified today that my order of Earth Day stamps has shipped. I only had three stamps left, and ordering them online was so easy. USPS—my favorite government service. Help keep the Post Office open!
Cara Oosterhouse, a Michigan friend who shares my love for locally made gins (whenever I'm traveling and eating out, I ask if there's a local gin I can try), bought a bottle of something new from Wise Men Distillery and also a few gallons of hand sanitizer. With bars closed, breweries and distilleries are joining the alternative economy and saving lives by making ethanol for sanitizers.
A few weeks before the pandemic hit us, I strongly considered buying a foot-pedal-operated clothes washer. It wasn't expensive, but I dilly-dallied. It's easy to handwash smaller items, but as Stay at Home wears on, what about sheets and towels, jeans? I imagine a lot of people like me live in a small space and would have to go to a public place to wash clothes, so they must've ordered one of these. Lots of them ordered. A foot-pedal washing machine is eco-friendly––an example of a different sort of alternative economy. It's sold out, and I should be glad. I am. Sort of.
It's part of the alternative economy to keep paying the people who do things for you on a regular basis––like hairdressers, barbers, massage therapists, housecleaners––people who can't work and have to stay home. They still need to pay rent, mortgages, gas and electric, and buy food. We can support them with cash and gratitude for all the ways they've made our lives better.
We can join the alternative economy by purchasing from small local businesses. I have plenty of tea in the house, but I'm on the mailing list of New Mexico Tea Company and have bought quite a bit of loose tea and tea-making paraphernalia in their shop near Old-Town (adjacent to the Golden Crown Panaderia) in the past. In the Time of Corona, the shop is closed, but they have started an online ordering option, and it's enabled them to keep all of their people employed. I ordered 2 ounces of organic Darjeeling. I would've ordered 4, if my favorite––Fourth Flush Darjeeling––weren't out of stock, so I'll hope to order that soon. I also ordered a collection of nine teas—5 cups worth in each packet for $24. A darn good deal, I figure. As for me and my house (which is just me), I intend to use some of my stimulus money this way––buying LOCAL. Keeping people in my community employed and solvent.
Do you have a favorite local small business or alternative economy you'd like to tell about? Anywhere––not just in New Mexico. Please feel free to add to comments, and I'll do what I can to make that small, local business known. We have social media!