Blue Fish Clothing—a small company with a big heart

Originally published in Taos News

Blue Fish unique hand-printed, organic women’s clothing has been a fixture in the Taos fashion community since 1996.

Owner, founder and designer Jennifer Barclay started Blue Fish Clothing in 1986 when she began making clothing in her parents’ garage.

“Since then, every one of the hundreds of thousands of Blue Fish garments has been made and printed by caring hands in the USA,” said sales associate Iris Leahy. “Jennifer’s vision was to create clothes that expressed her personality and provided an alternative aesthetic to mainstream fashion styles.”

Today the company has three stores—one here in Taos, one in Frenchtown, New Jersey and one in Fairfield, Iowa.

Unique products, personalized approach

Eco-awareness and sustainability practices have been integral parts of the company’s philosophy for decades.

“These clothes nourish all aspects of well-being, from being comfortable and empowering to peace of mind knowing that your choice as a consumer is one that supports a healthier, happier planet and self,” said Leahy.

The clothing is sewn and garment-dyed in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas by two small companies that Blue Fish has been working with for 25 years.

But the final stage of their manufacturing process hardly looks like ‘manufacturing,’ said Leahy.

“Our talented studio artists in Iowa handprint designs onto the clothes from hand-carved lino blocks,” she said. “They put their personal touches in the printing in order to create one-of-a-kind items.”

Customer service is key.

“We have found a great group of women who truly embrace and celebrate all there is to appreciate about Blue Fish,” said Leahy. “Our amazing sales staff takes an incredibly friendly, encouraging, and personalized approach in pairing one-of-a-kind garments with their equally unique human counterparts.”

Taos Blue Fish is one of three stores across the country that deals in limited edition and hand-made clothes, so a lot of effort on the part of its staff goes into finding the right pieces for their customers.

Clothing and accessories

The store sells a full line of constantly evolving Blue Fish Collections as well as vintage pieces.

They also offer an array of local artisan-crafted gift items like jewelry, journals, purses, scarves, prayer flags, kitchen wares, and more.

Their goal is giving local artists and jewelers a venue to consign their art in an artisan’s ideal space.

“This is one of many ways we can build and strengthen community in Taos,” said Leahy.

Some of the accessories that the Blue Fish stores sell are made by women who belong to communities from the developing world. There are Andean ceramic bead necklaces from Peru and colorful bangles from Swaziland, Africa.

“Blue Fish is a small company with a big heart and a genuine concern for people and the planet,” said Leahy. “When you wear Blue Fish, you are supporting ethically made clothing that is imbued with love and creativity at every step.”
The pieces are versatile by nature.

“You can dress up or down with Blue Fish clothes,” said Leahy. “You can layer different pieces and combine textures and designs to create new looks. The fun things with Blue Fish is that there are no rules and they never go out of style.”

Business secrets

How has Blue Fish managed to stay in business for over twenty five years?

One reason is the quality of the clothes they sell, says Leahy, and the fact that clients develop a kind of a “family relationship” with the brand.

Ellen Ebersole is a repeat customer. She is wearing a Blue Fish top.

“I come here every month,” she said. “My favorite products are the t-shirts. See, this one is basic but it has a distinctive style. My favorite coat is also from here. It’s green and has a lot of character.”

There are also some customers who only wear Blue Fish.

“They come and shop when they are in town and also buy pieces from our website,” said Leahy.

For Leahy, seeing the transformation of a woman who comes in unenthused or self-conscious about her body and then leaves with a new sense of beauty and confidence is the most rewarding part of the business.

“Blue Fish Clothing reinforces the universal truths that everyone is beautiful,” she said. “Nurturing the self-esteem of all the women who come to our store and encouraging them to love and celebrate their bodies and spirits freely is our mission.”

The store is located at 1405 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte (Overland Ranch Complex)
El Prado, New Mexico
Phone: 575 758 7474






About dovalpage

Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana and now lives in Taos, New Mexico. She has a Ph.D. in Spanish literature and teaches at UNM Taos. She also freelances for Taos News, Profile, Hispanic Executive and other publications. A bilingual author, she has published eight novels, six in Spanish and two in English, two collections of short stories in Spanish and one in English. Her English-language novels are A Girl like Che Guevara (Soho Press, 2004) and Habanera, a Portrait of a Cuban Family (Floricanto Press, 2010). Her collection of short stories The Astral Plane, Stories of Cuba, the Southwest and Beyond was published by the University of New Orleans Press in 2012. In her native Spanish she has authored the novels Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006, a runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain), El difunto Fidel (The late Fidel, Renacimiento, 2011, that won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain in 2009), Posesas de La Habana (Haunted Ladies of Havana, PurePlay Press, 2004), La Regenta en La Habana (Edebe Group, Spain, 2012,) Orfeo en el Caribe(Atmósfera Literaria, Spain, 2013) and El retorno de la expatriada (The expat’s return, Egales, Spain, 2014). Her short novel Las Muertas de la West Mesa (The West Mesa Murders, based on a real event) is currently being published in serialized format by Taos News.
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