Putting people over profit. Imagine what we could accomplish as a society if this was the norm.
For this month’s #BrandsWeLove, we had the pleasure of chatting with Nick Salazar of Santa Fe Trail Outfitters—an outdoor lifestyle brand in Santa Fe, N.M. As he shared with us the brand’s story, what stuck out most wasn’t that he and his wife, Audrey, launched a retail store in the peak of the pandemic, or that they have managed to grow exponentially in the last year despite major supply chain challenges and the relentless COVID-19 rollercoaster. While those facts are certainly impressive, what we were most drawn to is that Nick and Audrey started Santa Fe Trail Outfitters primarily as a vehicle to do good in their community while sharing their love of the Santa Fe outdoors with others.
When COVID-19 turned life upside down in early 2020, Nick, Audrey and their 4-year-old son, Brandon, took to nature—finding solace in the Santa Fe trails. They noticed many of their friends and family doing the same and realized this piece of Santa Fe’s identity—the nature, trails and outdoors—wasn’t really represented in the local market. Inspired by the mountains, landscapes, food and culture of Santa Fe, Nick and Audrey decided to build a brand that promotes the Santa Fe outdoor lifestyle while giving back to their community.
Clearly, their vision resonated. In just one year, what started as a side hustle selling their own small clothing line out of Nick and Audrey’s house quickly grew to a full-time gig with four employees and a storefront in the heart of downtown Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Trail Outfitters isn’t a typical outdoor store. Yes, they have a variety of clothing, gear, and accessories both their own and from many popular brands—but you’ll even find local salsa, chiles, candles and more that celebrate the unique nature and culture of Santa Fe. What’s perhaps most apparent about the brand is the passion behind it. Nick said, “there’s no way we can fail if we are doing something we are really passionate about.” And damn if that ain’t the truth.
Driving that passion is the desire to support the community. For every Santa Fe Trail Outfitters branded apparel item sold, the business donates five meals to the Santa Fe Food Depot to help hungry children in New Mexico, where 1 in 3 children are currently experiencing food insecurity. So far, Nick and Audrey have provided more than 10,000 meals to children in need. That’s what Nick says he’s most proud of. And it’s one of the reasons why Santa Fe Trail Outfitters is a brand we love.
In Nick’s own words, “we started this to be fulfilled and to be happy, and to be happy is not about what you receive, it’s about what you can give.”
Let that one sink in.
Next time you’re in Santa Fe, pop in and say hello to Nick and Audrey at Santa Fe Trail Outfitters. Hit the trails. Enjoy nature. Do something that’s bigger than yourself. And in the meantime, visit santafetrailoutfitters.com to learn more about this inspiring brand we love.
Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.