In 2018, Kyle-Lynn Martinez of Taos Pueblo and San Felipe Pueblo and Travis Snyder of Wind River Shoshoni and Zuni Pueblo founded Morningstar Flower Native Arts. The couple named their business after their daughter and originally started the business so that Kyle-Lynn could be a stay-at-home mom and work from home while raising their daughter. Their business started off as a way for them to sell art and works created by their family members, but with a family history of artists specializing in Zuni fetishes and jewelry, Travis began creating and selling art pieces of his own. Fast forward to 2023, Kyle and Travis are well on their way to growing and scaling their business to the next level.
After seeing a post on Instagram from business owner and former tribal liaisons, Angelo McHorse, promoting the New Mexico Tribal Entrepreneurship Program (NMTEEP) and encouraging Native American entrepreneurs to connect to New Mexico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Travis decided to reach out to Angelo to learn more. That initial meeting with Angelo and his wife Jacquelene was the first step for Travis and Kyle to begin tapping into the plethora of resources and programming available to them as New Mexican Indigenous entrepreneurs.
Through their connection with Angelo, Jacquelene, and NMTEEP, their first step was to complete their Entrepreneurial Capabilities Certificate made available by UNM Rainforest Innovations and UNM Innovations Academy’s NM Rainforest EDA University Center Program. Through the certificate program, they were introduced to a series of 7 videos and quizzes on various entrepreneurial topics such as Taxes & Business Startups, How to File an LLC, Selling Without a Store, How to Launch a Successful Start-up, and How to Promote Your Business on YouTube. After completing the videos and quizzes, they earned their certificates which gave them the foundational knowledge to then connect with their local Small Business Development Center at UNM-Taos where they received essential assistance and advice on accounting and taxes from Small Business Advisor, Anwar Kaelin.
Taking these first steps helped Travis and Kyle develop the momentum to launch into New Mexico’s greater entrepreneurial ecosystem where they found more programming and resources specifically targeted towards Indigenous entrepreneurs and founders. They later connected with New Mexico Community Capital, an essential resource for Indigenous Entrepreneurs in New Mexico, and completed their Business & Marketing Essentials Course. Upon completion of the course, they were eligible to participate in their first “First Friday” ABQ Artwalk Event in August 2023. In addition to connecting with NMCC’s programs and resources, Travis and Kyle also connected with Arrowhead Center’s American Indian Business Enterprise Center where they attended and presented at the 2023 AIBE Conference held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on July 28, 2023.
As they have engaged with these resources and New Mexico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, they have come to realize bigger goals for their business and plan to eventually grow Morningstar Flower Native Arts into a Native-owned art gallery and/or trading post of sorts. They also hope to work with their tribe and the community of Taos to help define and develop clearer pathways for other entrepreneurs in their community of Taos Pueblo to follow.
“Connecting with Angelo, Jacquelene, and the New Mexico Tribal Entrepreneurship Program was the first step that led to all these other opportunities. Right now, we are the ones asking the questions, but someday, we hope to be experienced enough to be the ones with the answers,” said Travis, reflecting on their journey and navigating the entrepreneurial ecosystem thus far.
“We have so much potential as Native people, we want to succeed as a whole tribe, we don’t want to just succeed as an individual business,” said Kyle-Lynn during Morningstar Flower’s recent interview with UNM Rainforest Innovations’ Indigenous Entrepreneurs Podcast.
Morningstar Flower Native Arts also recently received a micro-grant for the Regional Development Corporation. An opportunity they were led to through their engagement with NMTEEP and the greater NM Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.
Tune into our interview with Kyle and Travis to learn more about Morningstar Flower Native Arts and their entrepreneurial journey! The episode will premiere on Spotify and YouTube on September 8, 2023 at 8:00am MST.