Andy Trujillo: Calm in the COVID-19 Storm

Andy Trujillo

Massage therapist Andy Trujillo is a native Las Vegan, although he didn’t grow up here. He was born in one of the small buildings on the Plaza, but never thought he would return after his family moved to Albuquerque. His story is in his calming nature and you can hear it as Andy recounts how he grew into his profession.

“I feel like I have been doing massage most of my life. I have memories of massaging my father’s back and shoulders by walking on his back as a small child. I also remember doing the same for my uncles and somehow knowing where and how hard to press. As a pre-teen or a teenager, I remember my relatives bringing babies to me if they were fussy or crying a lot and I would know how to quiet them down very quickly and put them to sleep. Sometimes rubbing their tummies or just knowing why they were crying.

“My work was never truly satisfying until after I was injured in a car accident in 1990 and underwent regular massage therapy in my recovery. I knew in my heart that I could help people through massage and decided then to pursue my Massage Therapist education and license. I have been licensed as a massage therapist since 1992.”

Andy has owned his business for the entire 28 years of his career, and prides himself in providing a therapeutic, but gentle massage. He specializes in pain relief and practices on all ages.

“My youngest client was an infant and my oldest client was my 99 year-old grandmother. In my practice, I offer a combination of different types of massage to fit the client’s individual needs, including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Shiatsu, Polarity and Reflexology.”

Andy said COVID-19 down time was used to complete the the process of moving his office.

“When the health and safety restrictions were instituted, my wife and I decided to renovate a part of our home and create a new office during the time I was unable to work. The loss of income was worth it for me to allow me the time to rethink my business and how I would operate moving forward,” he said.

For Andy, the good that came out of temporary closure  was a renewed emphasis on continuing to provide a safe environment for customers.

“Massage therapy is truly an individual session, in close quarters to the client, so I now conduct my business with even closer attention to infection control practices,” Andy said.

His practice if fully reopened. He controls the number of clients he sees each week, which takes care of social distancing, but Andy also follows mandated restrictions set forth by health officials to protect his clients and himself.

“I have been cautious as I reopen by screening my clients and taking temperatures before we start.”

Andy will continue to maintain high-level precautions by limiting the number of people he sees.

“By spreading my appointments out, I have time to disinfect my entire office, including not only my table, but all the furniture, lamps, down to the pens I have for clients to use. I wear a mask and have my clients wear a mask during the session. I ask a short series of screening questions and take the individual’s temperature before we start. My wife and I have both been tested and are negative right now for the virus.”

Andy loves his profession and is committed to the safety of clients, himself and family members.

“I will not compromise on that,” he said. “I will probably keep most of the new precautions in place in my business even after we have a safe way to live in the world with COVID-19 because they make sense and provide a much healthier way to serve the community.”

Few are prepared when something as devastating as a pandemic hits. Andy said he was fortunate his professional organization provided the guidance he needed as he prepared to reopen with safety in mind.

Moving forward, Andy shared a concern many small businesses owners have, that they, or their clients might become infected despite all the precautions. He will continue to operate under the new guidelines, now and into the future. For Andy, it is simply the right thing to do.

Andy Trujillo Massage Therapist is located at 2910 8th Street. The entrance is on Williams Drive.

“I work mostly Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but am available for weekends or later hours if needed.”

Contact information for the practice is 505 250-7928.

“Please leave a message if I do not answer. “I silence my phone and do not take calls when I am with my clients.”

NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email for more information.

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at,, Amazon Author Central. Please like, share, or comment – or all three!


All About You

Stand OutYour purchase of a single-page artist or business profile will serve multiple purposes for a one-time fee of $67.50. Purchase includes 30 color copies of your profile on quality paper. Uses for the profile include:

  • Outline for news releases
  • Sales stuffers
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  • To share your expertise
  • Sets you apart from the competition
  • May be used as your website business profile

View samples: Andrea GottschalkTito Chavez

Next steps:

  1. Provide a list of all web addresses where you post information.
  2. Provide digital images (2 or more) to be used with your profile.
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Within five days you will receive the first draft of your profile. You will receive subsequent drafts until you give final approval. Upon approval, you will receive the following:

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Click here for more information about Sharon, call 505-617-0839 or email

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Dream on

pexels-photo-279415.jpegI love to write, it’s what I do. As you know, Blind Curve is now available through this site and at Amazon. My concern is that I’m preaching to the same choir. Most of you have heard about my publishing journey in one form or another. I’m asking a huge favor. Share this post with your followers, friends and family. It will mean a lot to me.

The job of marketing one’s work is more angst ridden and time consuming by far than writing the book. Right now I’m working on my episodic novel, Hunter’s Light, Pella’s Quest (episodes posted every Friday), but it is a challenge to do that and work on getting attention for Blind Curve. I have marketing and advertising sales experience, but the focus has always been on something else or for someone else. This time the spotlight is on me, or at least on my books. My dream come true is to look at my royalty statement and see something other than zeros.

How can I be sure readers will notice my baby among the thousands of others on the shelves? Well, I can’t, that’s why, as a writer, I must hit the streets and get my message out there. I know my book is compelling and dramatic, a mystery wrapped up in a puzzle, and that the characters feel like people you know and want to root for. How do I let potential readers know? That is part of what I have learned on my writing and publishing journey, so far.

Writing is my dream job and I love it, even though I know the following applies to me and most writers:

  • Nobody knows or cares who you are as a writer, not even your family and friends. If you want to sell them a book, you have to ask if they want to buy it.
  • Writing is an isolating profession. You don’t write 2000 to 4000 words a day drinking coffee at the coffee shop, but it is also a business. If you don’t sell your book, you’re not valuing your work.
  • Writing is mentally and physically taxing. Writers like David Baldacci and Margaret Atwood continue to be successful because they are dedicated writers who devote their work time to writing, not sitting at the coffee shop.
  • Writers must be ready for criticism and be able to see their books for what they are: works in progress. Editing, revising, proofing, rewriting, tossing the whole damn thing out at times, that’s all part of writing. This is so hard, much more difficult than you can imagine. It’s work, not unlike the work you do.
  • When I think my book is just too precious for words, I know I’m probably on the wrong track. I’ve learned to put the work aside for awhile and then read it like a reader. Read it aloud. Hear how it sounds.
  • I’ve learned to trust my instincts. If something seems off kilter in the narrative, my readers will likely get the same vibe.
  • I’ve learned it is essential to be confident. If I don’t believe in my characters, no one else will. If I don’t believe in my concept I wander in a wilderness of wrong words.
  • Writing is like dreaming when you’re awake. You convert those dreams into stories and poems and songs. My hope is that what I write will ring a bell with readers and lead them to dream along with me.
  • Writing is a business. As a writer, I must keep that in mind.
  • Writing is an itch. The only way to scratch that itch is to sit down in front of a keyboard and slog it out. The itch is what keeps me at the computer.

Yes, writing is the itch that must be satisfied with words and the magic that happens when those words come together in a great story. The itch is why I never stop dreaming.

Please Follow, Like, Comment and Share this post. Your feedback is important.

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at,, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at Thanks for reading and sharing this post.

Give Yourself a Gold Star

7 Affirmations to Improve Your Business

If I was 12 inches taller I’d be skinny

How many times have you looked in the mirror and found a flaw? If you say never, good grief, what planet do you live on? Most of us are self-critical, sometimes to the point of being oblivious to what makes us unique. We seem to have a beast inside bent on bellyaching about our multiple deficiencies. Do you obsess about being too tall or not tall enough? Too thin or too heavy? Not pretty/handsome enough? Too pushy? Not pushy enough?

I'm a winner!You have your list and so do I. Do you apply that self-critical flaw-finding attitude to your business?

  • I can’t succeed.
  • The economy is against me!
  • I can’t afford to carry enough inventory.
  • Everybody shops out of town!
  • I’m afraid of the competition.
  • Advertising costs too much and it’s a waste of my limited resources.
  • Marketing eludes me. I can’t figure it out.

When you add your own night terrors to this list do you start to sweat? Are you on the brink of throwing in the towel, going to bed and covering up your head? STOP! Before you lie down with a cold compress – or knock back a numbing libation – get a grip! Perhaps you’re thinking is getting in the way of your business success.

But I’m only 60 inches tall, that’s not going to change

Challenges are real. There is something to be said for critical evaluation. SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis exists for a reason. The list above clearly represents the outcome of looking at weaknesses.

So how do you bring your future, the future of your business and the future of your community’s economy into perspective? Let the bellyaching beast of negativity off its leash and listen up. Evaluation does not mean you must find every flaw. Yes, you need to know what your weaknesses are, but also be certain you know and embrace your strengths. I may only be five foot tall and nowhere near thin, but anyone who knows me will tell you it has rarely held me back, even when standing still might have been wiser.

You are a star, and don’t you forget it

After hearing the bellyaching beast whining and begging for the scraps of uncertainty and fear left behind in the wake of your mental self-abuse, give him his freedom, open the door and let him go. When you see his tail wagging as he crests the horizon, take pen in hand and write down why your skills, services or business benefits others. It is freeing. It reminds you of your successes and puts the bad times in perspective.

As an entrepreneur you should take stock from time to time. Go somewhere quiet, where you will be able to think uninterrupted. Take a notebook and pen. There is something to be said for the tactile feel of the implements in your hand as you see your entrepreneurial spirit come to life through the words flowing onto the page.

Affirm your commitment to success:

I started this business/service (aside from money) because____________.

There is never any one reason entrepreneurs go into business. While earning a profit is likely at the top of the list there are other compelling reasons that fired and inspired you to put out your shingle. Name those reasons. Embrace them.

My business/service is unique in these ways_____________.

If you don’t have a response to this perhaps it’s time to think carefully about what you offer that no one else does, or think of an add-in that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Investing in my business through promotion has value because_________.

There is a rule of thumb that you should commit a percentage of your annual income to advertising and promotion. I would add, use that money wisely and well. No matter how much you want to support every publication and cause that “represents youth,” consider what you do in context of your business success. There are other ways to donate that don’t involve spending your much-needed promotional dollars.

My business has loyal customers. I’m going to reward them by______________.

When was the last time you e-mailed, called or in some way communicated with your customers? It’s less expensive to retain a satisfied customer and get them to buy again than it is to draw new customers to your door. And remember this – activity begets activity. If you have your old customers coming in the door, new customers will follow.

I will make sure my employees like their jobs and convey that to our customers.

If your employees aren’t on your side and don’t enjoy their jobs it will show in your bottom line. Take care of your employees (even if the only employee you have is you). If employees are not confident in their ability to take care of customers, if they feel inadequate, if they feel you don’t care about them, they will not do their best. They will do the minimum and not very well.

I will participate actively in associations that advocate for independent entrepreneurs.

Belonging to a business association is an opportunity for networking, yes, absolutely. Aside from that, you have something to offer. What can you contribute that will improve/promote all businesses? Rising water lifts all boats. Be part of the rising tide.

I will post a list of my business successes where I can see it every day, beginning with the day I opened, my first success.

Remember your successes. That first big sale. Meeting your first payroll (including paying yourself!). The “thank you” from a customer who benefited from your service. Keep track of the positive influence and impact your business has had and continues to have.

Moving forward

When business is stagnant or beginning to slide, remember this is a bump in the road, not a wall. Small business continues to be the backbone of the economy. Your success determines the health of the local economy and the national economy. Take time to celebrate your entrepreneurial strengths. It will be good for you, and it will be good for your business.


Sharon Vander Meer is an entrepreneur, author, blogger and freelance writer. To tap into her skills to your benefit e-mail Type Write Stuff in the subject line.

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Q&A: The Candy Man

…and family

Gift BasketsThe Ulibarri family’s route to its new shop at 161 Bridge Street has been circuitous and – as is often the case with small businesses – not without challenges. What it has continued to have is faithful customers who love the candy they make. The store came out of a family who personifies “family first” when it comes to making decisions.

Mike, a native of Espanola, moved with his parents (Jose and Magdalena Ulibarri) to their home town of Anton Chico, N.M., when he was in junior high. Donna’s parents, (Eloy and Marcella Montoya), owned and operated the Plaza Supper Club at the Plaza Hotel from 1962 until they sold it in 1975. They moved to Golondrinas (Mora County), where Mike, Donna and their son, Chris, currently reside. Mike said he and Donna met at the Flower Pot (on the Plaza) in 1979 and married in 1980 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. “Old Town Las Vegas has always meant a lot to us,” he said. After 20 years in the Navy, Mike retired. He and Donna moved back to Golondrinas to help Donna’s parents.

Mike said Donna’s gifts of candy at Christmas one year were such a hit, he talked her into making it for a craft fair. They sold out by noon. That was in 2002 and they have been making candy commercially ever since, but had to take a break from the business in 2009 when Donna’s father’s health began to fail. Mr. Montoya passed away in 2012.

Christmas GoodiesWhen Mike and Donna decided to go back into business in 2014 they choose to go with a home-based business for production. Only the family can sell the product, but the Ulibarri family is okay with that. Electing to keep the enterprise small and manageable, for two years they sold “door to door” and participated in fairs and farmers’ markets. It meant loading and unloading, setting up and tearing down, which began to affect Mike’s health. When they saw that Paper Trail was relocating, the soon-to-be vacant spot looked to be ideal for their needs. The Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe opened its doors in late October.

The family has put its signature style on the interior with a counter made from reclaimed wood and, for now, seasonal decorations made and arranged by Donna. It is an inviting space with delectable temptations. Below are Mike’s responses to questions about what being in this business means to him and his family.

ORP: What inspired you to go into the candy making business?
Mike: Donna made candy as Christmas gifts. They were such a hit I encouraged her to make them for sale. At our first fair, we sold out before noon.

ORP: What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?

  • Have good people behind you. I couldn’t do it without my family.
  • Be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked.
  • Have fun.

ORP: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful business person?

  • Honesty
  • Have a good attitude.
  • Don’t be afraid to try. The worst thing that could happen is that they say, “No.”

Peppermint Fudge BallsORP: How did you decide what candies you wanted to make when you kicked off your business?
Mike: The brittle has always been a great seller and my wife’s fudge is a close second. We are known for them.

ORP: You make the candy at home. Talk about the challenges of having a home-based manufacturing operation.
Mike: Days like today are very challenging. When one of us has to stay home, and cook, while the other is at the shop. Tomorrow Donna will be home cooking. She and her mother, who is blind, will package all the candy she makes, as well as the candy I made today. We have a designated area for candy production that we keep separate from the living area, so really the biggest challenge is time management. Our son Chris, is finishing up his semester. He does an online school from home. As soon as he is done we will have an extra pair of hands.

ORP: How has running the business affected your life?
Mike: We didn’t expect it to be so much fun!

ORP: What motivates you?
Mike: I have a nice life, and a nice family. That’s what motivates me every day. I’m proud of the candy we make and I’m proud that so many people like it so much.

ORP: How do you generate ideas for expanding the types of candy you offer?
Mike: My wife wakes up in the morning with all kinds of ideas. I don’t think she ever sleeps!

ORP: What is your greatest concern, and how do you manage that concern?
Mike: I worry that we can’t keep up. So we work harder.

ORP: How do you define success?

Gift BasketsORP: How did you fund your business?
Mike: Navy Federal Credit union gave us a small personal loan.

ORP: How did you build a customer base?
Mike: Word of mouth, walking around town and giving out samples, attending meetings like the one (Rotary Club of Las Vegas) where I met you.

ORP: Talk about your new location on Bridge Street?
Mike: We love our new Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe. It’s just the right size and Bridge Street is so quaint. Lots of foot traffic, lots of great stores and restaurants and the other merchants in the area have given us the warmest welcome we could have ever gotten.

ORP: How do you market your business?
Mike: Radio, flyers, social media, and I talk to EVERYONE!

Quick Facts:
Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe
Location: 161 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM  87701
Hours: M-Sat 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday 11 am to 3 pm
Phone: 505-425-3123
Website: Ulibarri Farms
Online: Like us on Facebook



Jewelry Artisan and Entrepreneur

Making art into a business

WelcomeBeing in business is a challenge and an opportunity all wrapped up in one great adventure. When you’re good at it, you share your expertise with others who are dipping a toe into the entrepreneurial waters. With more than thirty years of experience under her belt, Andrea Gottschalk of Unikat Fine Jewelry has grown her business and reached out to help others. She believes in working in concert with other business people and making the most of networking opportunities. She has an abundance of talent as a jewelry designer and creates a customer-friendly shopping experience as a business owner. Her insightful responses to the Q&A reveals a woman who enjoys what she does, and who remains grounded in the essentials of business ownership: making wise market decisions and operating within your means.

Andrea was born and raised in Germany. She graduated from high school in 1985 and went on a  two-year world travel adventure, including an extended visit to New Mexico. She returned to Germany and attended the Goldschmiede Schule in Pforzheim. She returned to New Mexico in 1988 “for the love of it,” and started a home based jewelry business working as a sub contractor for many different retail jewelry stores in Santa Fe such as Spirit of the Earth, James Reid, Mitzi Lynn, Mahdani and many others. She made special orders and custom pieces. Andrea moved to Las Vegas, NM in 1995. “I opened Unikat Fine Jewelry in 1998 where Genesis Computers is located now. I moved across the street in 2004 to 158 Bridge St., where I had my business until September of this year.” When the opportunity came to move into a much bigger location she took it and is now operating at 160 Bridge St.

Unikat Fine Jewelry will have a Grand Opening celebration at its new location, 160 Bridge St., in conjunction with Paper Trail, 166 Bridge St. The event will be Friday and Saturday, November 11 -12.

ORP: You’ve made the move to your new location. What do you hope this will do for your customers?
A lot more browsing room without feeling cramped in. Lots more inventory to select from. Big store windows to do window shopping, and it’s easy to find me.

ORP: What inspired you to go into business and how long have you had the store?
I opened my first store in 1998 when Price’s Ilfeld closed their jewelry department. I was their repair jeweler for about one year and I took the business opportunity to fill that niche. I had been making jewelry since I was sixteen. I went to gold smithing school in Germany. I had always worked for other retail stores making their custom pieces. There was an important link missing for me in that I never got to have the contact with the client and never could see their joy in purchasing that piece of jewelry I had made. That was the biggest inspiration to have my own store, to have that direct connection to the client and feeling proud of what I accomplished when I would see their reactions to the finished product.

ORP: What is the single biggest challenge to being a sole-owner business and how do you address it?
All the investments are on your own risk. All the debt you may accumulate is yours. There is no corporation that backs you up if you fail or no government that wipes your debt clean. You are solely responsible for every single decision you make and sometimes that can be very nerve racking.

ORP: What are your biggest opportunities as a business person on Bridge Street?
The Bridge Street/Plaza area is the most well known historic area and most walked on foot by locals and tourists alike. The chance that someone will stroll by and and take a peek into your store and buy something is huge.

Designing EntrepreneurORP: In addition to being a business owner, you also make jewelry and do jewelry repair. Talk about what inspires you as a business owner?
I would have to answer that in reverse, making jewelry inspired me to become a business owner and having my own retail store. The creation of jewelry and the sales aspect of it and going more and more into designs and repairs for customers directly,  taught me to have a good professional attitude with clients and subsequently has made me a good  business owner. I cannot say enough how important it is to have a professional, service-oriented attitude to gain a good loyal customer base. Yes you are in business for yourself but you really work for the client and their satisfaction. If that is not understood then you better not be a business owner. Of course quality is on top of everything.

ORP: What inspires you as a jewelry maker?
The color and shape of gemstones. They inspire the whole design and the outcome of a piece. I also love gems in their natural uncut beauty and often set them just as they are found in nature. I love combining different metals into one piece and personally I am very drawn to geometric simple shapes so a lot of my own creations have that as a component of the design.

ORP: Where do you get ideas for your jewelry designs?
Usually when I see a gem stone that grabs me at a supplier or at gem shows, I see a whole piece of jewelry around it in my imagination. That is what I create for the most part. I really don’t sit down at the drawing table much and think a piece through from start to finish. While I create a piece the design may change in the process when I see that something works better than originally thought of. Those are usually the best pieces.

ORP: If you had a motto as a business person, what would it be?
Know your market and don’t get in debt over your head. Don’t overspend on a huge inventory. Start slowly and built up your inventory when you can afford to invest more in it. If you create something make it top quality!

ORP: What do you like about being an entrepreneur?
You are responsible for your own self. When something goes wrong you only have yourself to blame. If it goes right – and hopefully  that’s most of the time – well, then all the credit goes to you and you feel you deserve it! It makes you an integral and meaningful part of society when you have the ability to produce something that people appreciate and cherish.

ORP: You are also active in the Las Vegas First Independent Business Alliance. Why is it important to you as a small business person to be part of an organization of this type?
There is strength in numbers. Belonging to a business organization where everybody has the same mission, same goals, struggles and joys, you truly have a sense of belonging and you can commiserate or share the joys and successes together. You can find solutions together to common problems. Of course our top mission is our motto: Keep your money where your house is. That means to buy as much locally as you can and keep your tax dollars in town. It makes a tremendous impact on our town when the City has more tax revenue to spend. Quality of life improves for everybody by having better streets, parks, clean-up efforts, sidewalks, lighting, things for our youth and elderly to do, school improvements and the list goes on and on. People forget that all this depends largely on the revenue that comes in from tax dollars, and a huge amount is generated through our gross receipts, which is generated by shopping here locally.

ORP: Talk a little about Entrepreneurial Network and why you think it’s important.
The Entrepreneurial Network is so important for similar reasons to why it is important to have a business organization, but with more specific multi-functions. The EN facilitator, which has been me for the past three years, functions as a one-on-one business coach where I help a start up business or expanding business in every way possible to be successful. I do that by listening to their individual needs and try to find answers to any questions they may have. This help may be through my own business experience. If I do not have the answer, I refer people to business experts in their field or to valuable programs that are being offered through the Regional Development Corporation. There is technical assistance, market research, alternative micro loans, investments through the venture acceleration fund and much more. Every business has a uniqueness to them. It is my goal to help each and every client that comes to me for help in the best way possible, and to help them succeed in their own way, to the best of their abilities. It is their own talent that they need to rely on. I help them focus on what they are good at, encourage them to build on that in their business, and remind them to not overextend themselves. If you can talk somebody out of a very bad idea and save them from a lot of trouble, then that is a success too. Every other month I have what is called the Entrepreneurial Network Forum where I invite one to three business owners to do a public presentation on their services and goods to an audience of other business owners and interested people. This is free and open to the public and is usually held at the El Fidel Hotel Wolff’s Den room. It’s a great way to promote your business and network with other like-minded people. You get updates on what is new in town and who does what, when and where. If you need any assistance with your business please call me at my store, Unikat, 425-6113. It is a completely free service and exists in four Northern New Mexico communitites: Taos, Rio Arriba, Mora and of course here in San Miguel County. It is sponsored by the RDC, Los Alamos National Laboratories and Las Vegas First Independent Business Alliance.

Andrea’s new location and contact info:
Unikat Fine Jewelry
Location: 160 Bridge St., Las Vegas NM 87701

Phone: 505-425-6113 or cell 505-617-6113
Unikat on Facebook

Photos: Sharon Vander Meer (Note: If you are interested in doing a Q&A on One Roof Publishing, please contact