Golightly Cashmere — you might know it as downtown Santa Fe’s Chocolate+Cashmere — has grown slowly and methodically as cash flow has allowed since Haleigh Palmer started the business in 2004 as a mail-order operation.
Fifteen years later, Palmer has shops in Taos and Santa Fe, a 5,900-square-foot production facility on Pacheco Street, 14 employees and online business amounting to 30 percent of her sales. She advertises in The New Yorker magazine.
Sales grow 10 percent to 15 percent a year, but Golightly grows incrementally, one employee at a time.
Now, Golightly Cashmere is preparing for a big leap, with plans to add seven employees in one go, to start producing its own chocolate and to open a third retail shop in Breckenridge, Colo.
The business received a $76,425 state job-training grant that will reimburse Golightly Cashmere 50 percent to 75 percent of employee wages for classroom and on-the-job training for the new employees.
Palmer guesses it would have taken four years to achieve the growth plans that can move forward now with the grant.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it [without the grant],” Palmer said. “It helped us accelerate more quickly than we would have without it.”
Golightly Cashmere was one of 10 companies in New Mexico awarded a combined $2.1 million in Job Training Incentive Program funding Sept. 13 by the New Mexico Economic Development Department. Eligibility for JTIP funds depends on the company’s business, the role of the new jobs in that business and the trainees themselves, the department said in a news release.
The grants will train 123 new workers at businesses in Albuquerque, Clovis, Santa Rosa and Santa Fe.
Golightly started as a mail-order operation in 2004 and didn’t open a first retail shop until 2012 in Taos. The Santa Fe store on Palace Street followed in 2014. Palmer is ready to open a store in Breckenridge but doesn’t believe an ideal retail location will become available until 2020.
Golightly Cashmere produces about 75 percent of the sweaters, scarves, hats and other items at the stores, but the chocolate has been supplied by local chocolatier Chamisa Chocolate and Poco Dolce of San Francisco.
Palmer is putting the final touches on producing her own, not-yet-branded chocolate, which should be available in late October, as she discontinues Chamisa and Poco Dolce.
Flow Science was the other Santa Fe business to get a grant, for $14,752 to train one new employee.