Amber Navarrette, owner of Navarrette Leather, didn’t want to pay a high price for a Louis Vuitton handbag, so she taught herself how to do leather work. Now she makes and sells custom handbags made from old tack, or horse-riding equipment.
Her daughter, Kaidynce Norwood, is the owner of K’s Little Shop of Wonders, a jewelry business inspired by her love for Victorian era fashion. She just started her business through Instagram and TikTok.
“I created space with her to kind of be her own entrepreneur so she can be an independent young lady and start her hustle early,” said Navarrette, who recently relocated to Tucson from Willcox.
The two women were among the vendors at Women, Wine & Winning Wednesday, a monthly networking event that features independent vendors and, yes, wine on the second floor of downtown’s Chicago Store building. While the famed music shop Chicago Music Store has moved to a smaller space in downtown (as well as an outlet on the east side), the cavernous second floor in the building at Congress and Sixth Avenue has now become home to L Offices, a new co-working space in downtown. After hours, the L Offices also host events such as Women Wine & Winning, as well a farmers market once a month on the last Saturday.
The events were the brainchild of Annette Martin, who has a small jewelry shop in the L Offices. Elle Boutique features Martin’s own jewelry collection called Whatsnappenin, with accessories that snap on jewelry bases. Her snap bases come in a variety of purses, keychains, bracelets, and earrings that can all be uniquely accessorized with her snap jewelry.
Martin felt inspired to get her own retail space after creating relationships with vendors all over town. She wanted to showcase her jewelry line and include inventory from other local artists she met while networking. Martin sells work by 15 other artists in her shop.
Before she opened her own store, Martin set up booths at farmer markets and other vendor events, so it was a natural next step to bring local women-owned businesses together for their own vendor market at The L coworking space.
“When I first started looking for a way to do vendor events here in Tucson, everything I found was most of the events were in other cities like in Phoenix and it was really hard for me to find a place to go to find events,” Martin said. “So, I created a group on Facebook. It’s called Tucson Popups, Vendors and Events.”
Her Facebook group connects vendor coordinators with vendors.
“My goal was to try to unite everyone, because there are some people who do events that are very territorial and competitive,” Martin said.
Pre-pandemic, the group planned public networking events. Martin said 20 to 50 vendors would meet at a local restaurant to exchange ideas. This gave vendors time to meet fellow small business owners while supporting eateries, but the pandemic ended these networking events.
Once she learned about the L Offices, she pitched a new business idea to owner Krystal Popov.
“The coworking is really Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, and so you have this whole big space that you can rent out for all kinds of different things,” Martin said.
This led to organizing the monthly vendor event Women, Wine & Winning Wednesday. Women-owned businesses are encouraged to sign up for a booth and sell their products. Martin was inspired by Tiffany Nakatani of Boss Women Unite, a local platform that connects women-owned businesses to retail spaces.
“I was very inspired by her and I love her focus on promoting and empowering women and women business owners,” Martin said.
Women, Wine & Winning Wednesday includes retail vendors, free drinks, food, and a raffle drawing.
At the Nov. 3 event. experienced Tucson vendor Estrella Cruz with Oily Lifestyle. Cruz’s day job is in human resources but selling essential oils is her escape from job-related stress. Cruz said Young Living essential oils have improved her life and the residual income is saved for retirement. Cruz found Women, Wine, & Winning Wednesday through fellow vendors and social media.
“I used to be a military wife and I was actually introduced to Young Living out in Japan and Okinawa, so it’s been four years that I became a brand partner,” Cruz said.
The L coworking space is located at 130 E Congress St., suite 200, in the old Chicago Music Store. Visit their website at www.theloffices.com to ask about reserving a vendor booth for their next event.