Bison Star Naturals, a Taos Pueblo-born personal care product company that makes organic, all natural soaps and lotions, has made a giant leap from being a home-based operation to a full-fledged factory after just three years in business.
Husband and wife team Angelo and Jacquelene McHorse began making their products as a hobby from locally sourced ingredients in 2013. In January 2018, the two decided to turn their passion into a small family business.
"It was really out of a desire to incorporate more natural products into our everyday living, especially with the growth of our family," said Jacquelene McHorse. "A desire to provide our family natural body care without so many harsh fragrances and ingredients that are found in a lot of products these days."
The couple met in Durango, Colorado in 2007 as freshmen at Fort Lewis College. She graduated with a Spanish modern language and an agricultural sciences degree in 2011, and he graduated with a business administration and an agricultural sciences degree a year later.
They then moved to Taos - his hometown. He managed a local farm while she worked at an animal supply store. "After the birth of our first child, we realized that there wasn't the opportunity we had been seeking in Taos, and we wanted to be at home, in our community with our family," he said.
Their business uses wild herbs and flowers, along with pure essential oils, to make their body care products. Offerings include sage pine soap, bath salts, cedar lotions, bar soaps, lip balms and more. The couple also sells local honey, sage sticks and branded apparel like t-shirts and tote bags.
"We would sell at Red Willow farmer's market, the Taos Farmer's Market and different arts-and-crafts fairs around Taos and the greater region," said Jacquelene McHorse.
The two also have a thriving wholesale division, selling to airports in Albuquerque and Phoenix, Arizona, as well as a number of museums and cultural centers around the country.
She runs the wholesale business and their social media presence, along with a lot of the business administration, while he is responsible for production. They said they both tackle packing and shipping orders.
Bison Star Naturals recently finished building a 1,300-square-foot workshop with help from friends and family on land that belonged to his family. "We realized that the home-based setup wasn't working for us, because it's not scalable," he said. "We needed to expand in order to keep up with our product demand and the growth of our company."
The new facility, located at 726 Veterans Highway (next to Taos Mountain Casino), was designed to allow them to dry herbs, make products and store and package their goods.
"It took two years to build. We're really proud to say that this Bison Star build was executed through sales of lotions, soaps and all of the goods - we haven't taken out any loans," said Angelo McHorse. To promote their growth on social media, the two created a handle: #bisonstarbuild.
She said for the holiday season, they would be offering local customers curbside pickup, and in the not-too-distant future, they would like to open a retail store in Taos.
"We do have like a little storage shed that we've converted to a shop that we use for our retail space, but at the time - pre-COVID - it was just big enough for one or two shoppers to purchase on-site," he said. "But we don't want to call that our storefront, because we do have an official, larger-scale storefront planned."
For more information, call (575) 776-7007 or visit bisonstarnaturals.com.