People could say it sure sounds like a great Indian name. But, the owners and operators of Bison Star Naturals don't want you to see them, as just another Native-owned business.
"What I hold sacred as a Native American is something, I feel sharing takes away from. Bison Star is working to be known as a business, not just as a Native business, by safeguarding our culture, but sharing topical things like agricultural techniques," says co-founder Angelo McHorse. Bison Star Naturals' platform is value, evident in not only their body care products but also in their attitude.
Even their namesake is of sentimental value to the owners - Bison Star happened out of serendipity.
"When I first introduced Jacquelene to my family, I, being respectful of the way we introduce ourselves at Taos Pueblo, gave her full name," says, Angelo. Jacquelene's maiden name of "Brisson-Stahl" was mistaken by Angelo's niece to be "Bison Star." The couple never knew it would turn into a 1,300 square-foot dream.
Owners Jacquelene and Angelo McHorse started Bison Star Naturals LLC with little more than a spark of a dream. Their hard work and discipline is reflected in the foundation of their soon-to-be new production headquarters.
Bison Star is determined not to take out a loan. Proceeds from sales go directly into the business' growth. Angelo and Jacquelene have performed all of the construction at their location just north of Taos Mountain Casino. The efforts of Bison Star, thus far, have been a collective of wits, determination, and "friends and neighbors," Jacquelene burst out saying. "We invite the people to join our journey," said Angelo.
The rising Bison Star of Taos Pueblo opens its doors to many, and not just the people of Taos Pueblo. "Every spring to fall we host an artists market once a month that is open to all of our community," Angelo said.
But the comradery doesn't end there - Bison Star invites their friends, family and neighbors to contribute to "The Build." The Build is the ground work for the eventual headquarters for Bison Star LLC, which the family-operated business hopes to expand in the future.
Their expansions will include a fully operational production shop, which "will employ at least three of our community members," says Angelo.
"Hopefully more," added Jacquelene.
"Our build, is for everyone who wants to learn a thing or two about construction,"Angelo added.
It's important to note that Bison Star founders, Jacquelene and Angelo, have a full understanding of what it is to be from Taos Pueblo.
"We don't reference anything cultural in our products," Angelo stated.
"The only reason our brand bears 'Native owned and family operated,' was to satisfy our wholesellers," Jacquelene added.
The way a Native American markets their product can often come under scrutiny. Native Americans, within their own communities, can be subject to such examination.
"We're not selling the hype," Angelo said, "we're selling a lifestyle!"
Utilizing their huge social media platform, Bison Star hosts production workshops and recipe shows. Bison Star is a hub during the spring and summer months to many forms of networking among the people of, not only Taos Pueblo, but all the valle "y todos tambien," said Angelo. Bison Star wants to be the model for future entrepreneurs from Taos Pueblo and Taos. The McHorses have donated to numerous causes and events around Taos and Taos Pueblo. In the future they hope to offer internships and scholarships to the youth of our communities.
Angelo and Jacquelene have a three-year plan that so far, has yielded a solid foundation of value that is evident in the couple's products. Bison Star uses the stuff our grandmas did.
"Reputation should come from a quality product," said Angelo. "Being from Taos Pueblo is a bonus."
When you look up the name Bison Star, you won't be bombarded with culture. When you visit the McHorses' website, you'll see a lineup of their various products and a short bio. The Sage Pine Lotion will give any gentleman the edge he needs for that special night.
The family-operated establishment relies on its quality, rather than its background.
"I think 'real recognizes real,' and people see us working hard to make this happen," said Angelo. The couple's hard work has even won them some awards, the most recent being a spot on Native Business Magazine's Top 50 Entrepreneurs list, in May 2019. Back in November of 2018, Bison Star Naturals won Best in Bath & Body at the New Mexico Artisan Market. Bison Star Naturals has been well-received at Taos Pueblo and in Taos. In a recommendation posted on Facebook, Kathryn Martinez wrote, "You must try Bison Star Naturals! Awesome quality!"
Bison Star's popularity spans even further. In another Facebook review, Yvette Marie Gordillo wrote, "The fragrances smell so fresh and natural and remind me of Taos. Their products take me back there."
Bison Star's founders have the support, they have the motivation. The couple said by 2021, Bison Star headquarters will be fully operational. This will optimize production and expand their distribution.
Right now, about 70 percent of Bison Star's business goes to direct sales, through their website and shows. The couple wants to change this to a wholesale-dominated profit for the company.
"Like a Burt's Bees," exclaimed Jacquelene.
The confidence exuded by the business and life partners when Tempo spoke with them, was palpable. The duo's dynamic is that of a championship figure skating team. The dedication the couple has to the value of Bison Star is going to secure their place among the other stars that have come from our valley.
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