A sign hanging on the porch of an Arts and Crafts-style bungalow on Montezuma Avenue features an anatomical heart with a crossed needle, knitting needle and crochet hook. The house has been the location of any number of businesses over the years, but is today home to Hacer Santa Fe (311 Montezuma Ave., (505) 467-8174), a community-oriented natural fiber and fabric studio celebrating four years in business this month.
The studio’s owner, Laura Martin Baseman, grew up in Nambé and can trace her family history back to four generations in the area.
“It was my madrina,” she tells SFR, “my godmother, who taught me how to sew.”
Her godmother, Manuelita Romero, was a talented seamstress who practiced Colcha embroidery and made most of her own clothes as well as outfits and Halloween costumes for Martin Baseman and her brother. So, when a young Martin Baseman had to choose a project for her 4-H club in the mid-’90s, she chose sewing specifically so she could learn from Romero. But it wasn’t until years later, when she studied at the Harvard Divinity School in the mid-2010s, that Martin Baseman returned to textiles.
Growing up Catholic in New Mexico, she’d never really thought she’d have a place in ministry.
“Women can do quite a bit as lay people in the Catholic Church,” she says, “but there’s not a lot of traditional ministerial roles.”
Knowing that, Martin Baseman initially planned to pursue a Master of Theological Studies, she notes, “thinking about studying religion in kind of an academic context.” But her approach began to change while working with young asylum-seekers from Central America during an internship as a case manager with the Greater Boston Legal Services law firm. There she worked with a lawyer who specialized in cases for juveniles—a placement Martin Baseman earned in part because she speaks Spanish.
“Most of these kids had traveled across the border completely by themselves, sometimes with other groups of kids,” she recalls.
Such work had a lot in common with ministry, she says, and seeing how much she enjoyed it, her classmates encouraged her to switch to a Master of Divinity. In the new program, her studies included internships in pastoral settings and “usually pretty high stress environments,” Martin Baseman says.
“You’re trying to do service for others and take care of them on an emotional, spiritual level,” she further explains.
That’s when she got back into crafting. A friend at Harvard taught Martin Baseman how to knit, which “got me through my master’s thesis,” she says with a laugh, recalling a yarn store in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Gather Here where she took knitting classes.
“Gather Here just had such a lovely, inclusive vibe,” she says. “What they built was a radically inclusive community.”
Martin Baseman was working as a chaplain in a level one trauma hospital at the time, and fiber work became her self-care to recover from the job’s stress and emotional intensity.
On some level, she’d always planned to return to New Mexico. Martin Baseman’s family still calls the Nambé area home, and after returning, she struggled to find chaplain work in health care in Santa Fe. So she pivoted.
“I was like, ‘Heck, I love Gather Here,’ and there’s a part of me that always wanted to have a fabric and yarn store,” Martin Baseman muses. “So let’s do it.”
Hacer—which literally translates from Spanish to “to make”—was born in November of 2019. And though at first glance, ministry and running a fabric and yarn store might not have a lot in common, Martin Baseman says they’re both about building community.
“I think the thing about arts—and fiber arts, in particular—is that they’re community-based,” she says. “Anytime there are people together, making meaning of their lives or their work, that has a sacredness to it. Having a creative outlet and being creative with other people is a sacred act to me.”
Of course, the pandemic struck part-way through Hacer’s first year, a major blow to a fledgling small business. Martin Baseman managed to keep the shop alive through online sales combined with one-on-one classes. At a time when many were seeking out new hobbies to pass the time, Hacer’s model managed to keep the business alive.
“We had just enough people who were excited about a new craft store that kept us afloat,” Martin Baseman says.
Hacer has evolved into a cozy studio with a whimsical, modern aesthetic, and it offers a variety of beginner to intermediate-level fiber classes, some taught by Martin Baseman herself, some by guest instructors. She purposefully keeps the classes small, allowing students to get more hands-on instruction while continuing to foster ongoing COVID-19 safety and community care.
On the first Saturday of every month, Hacer also holds crafting circles at Crash Murder Business, itself a small, woman-owned powerhouse. Martin Baseman says the circles are a combination of knowledge-sharing and plain old socializing.
“People will just bring a project and chat with someone,” she notes, “so it’s just getting to know your community, too.”
Inclusivity matters, she says, “not only in the atmosphere we create, but also providing patterns and resources,” she says, citing the size-inclusive and body-positive patterns carried by the shop—and its wide range of price points.
“It’s very important for me to make sure that people feel comfortable, especially different body types,” she says. “Making your own clothes shouldn’t be stressful—you should be able to figure out something you want to wear, whatever your body is like or whatever stuff you’re dealing with in your body.”
Making your own clothes is an empowering act, after all, and Martin Baseman hopes to continue to build on the tools she makes available to do it.
“I’m really glad to see that there are so many people who are excited about making clothing,” she says. “Stuff that makes you feel good, even if the first time you do it it looks a little weird.”
It seems to be working. Some of Martin Baseman’s former students still send her photos of their projects to show her how their skills have improved.
“That’s really special to me,” she says.
Ongoing collaborations include an annual trunk show Hacer co-hosts during Indian Market with The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers, a yarn store based in Montana owned by artist Candice English—who incorporates her Blackfeet roots into her crafting philosophy—as well as Diné designers Jennifer Berg and Tressa Weidenaar.
“I love working with them, and their designs and perspectives on the knitting and fiber community are so important,” Martin Baseman says.
Hacer Santa Fe celebrates its fourth birthday this weekend with a tea party at Crash Murder Business, but be forewarned there will be limited space; and each ticket gets you a beverage, a craft-specific party favor and a Hacer notebook. Tickets are available on Hacer’s website, where you can also find a complete list of upcoming classes—like a new experience in December on quilted ornaments.
“I’m all for learning new skills and not being a perfectionist about it,” Martin Baseman concludes. “There’s so many things in our society that ask us to be perfectionists, so it’s good to have hobbies and crafts where you can do something without putting that much pressure on yourself. Play is important for big people, too.”
Hacer’s 4th Birthday: 4 pm-6 pm Saturday, Nov. 11. $20. Crash Murder Business, 312 Montezuma Ave., (505) 467-8174; hacersantafe.com