Amina’s Children Boutique: a business brings community and family together

SymOwner Symone Arguello-Dada

Originally published in Taos News

Three years ago Symone Arguello-Dada came to Taos with no car, no money, and no job. She was eight and a half month pregnant.

“I got a part-time job at El Monte Sagrado in the accounting department,” she said. “I also bought a hot dog cart so I could spend time with my little girl and still make some money.”

People came to know her as “the hot dog lady of Taos.” She brought her cart to the John Dunn Shops in the weekends and Taos Plaza Live on Thursdays, during the summer.

A brick-and-mortar store

Last September Arguello-Dada learned that a space would be available at the John Dunn Shops (where G. Robinson Old Prints & Maps used to be) and “a light bulb went off in her head.”

“I saw it as an opportunity to offer trendy clothes for children,” she said. “Here, there are only two places when people can get children’s clothes: Wal-Mart and Bealls. I had troubles finding the kind of dresses that I wanted my daughter Amina to wear so I rented the space and opened the boutique. I named it after my daughter because she inspired me to take that leap of faith. ”

The walls are decorated with photos and sketches of Amina modeling the merchandise.

“The photos were taken by Liz McCabe and the sketches were done by local artist David Borenstein,” Arguello-Dada said. “They have been so helpful and nice!”

The merchandise

Amina’s Children Boutique carries clothes, toys and shoes for infants and children up to six years old kids.

“We have fancy, classy, trendy, and unique clothes for boys and girls,” Arguello-Dada said. “I order the items I like, in the styles I love, and I hope that my clients enjoy them as much as I do. I now have beautiful dresses for the holidays, as well as tuxedos and cardigans, and many winter jackets.”

She also has sweaters, socks and beanies and will be getting more winter clothes soon.

“Don’t forget our toys,” she said. “I have everything, from rattles to educational games, like a USA Map Puzzle.”

A new concept for diaper bags

Recently, Arguello-Dada began carrying Betsey Johnson purses and handbags.

“All her products are fun and trendy,” she said. “I also want to change the image of the diaper bag. I am offering a few big purses that could be used for diapers. They are stylish and easy to clean. Perfect for chic moms!”

Chewable jewelry

Among the most interesting items one can find in the store are the chewable necklaces, a special kind of jewelry for both babies and mothers.

The Baltic Amber teething necklaces can be worn by boys or girls.

“It’s a natural, drug-free way to relieve the symptoms of teething in babies and toddlers,” Arguello-Dada said. “And they look pretty so kids are attracted to them.”

There are also chewable bead necklaces (“Chewbeads”) designed for mothers, available in a variety of colors.

“You know how babies are always grabbing their mother’s necklaces and earrings,” Arguello-Dada said. “Well, now they can do it safely. Made out of silicone beads (similar to pacifiers), Chewbeads necklaces are soft on babies’ gums and can be easily cleaned.”

Amina’s place

One of Arguello-Dada’s main goals with the store is to encourage her daughter, Amina, to follow her own dreams.

“This is really Amina’s place,” she said. “Sometimes in the evening she comes here and helps me choose outfits. She would say, ‘Mom, let’s go to my store and hang pretty clothes there.’ That convinces me that I made the right decision when I opened the boutique. I hope Amina inherits it someday.”

Help from the community

Since Arguello-Dada works during the week at El Monte Sagrado, she counts on a committed team of volunteers to keep the store open every day.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” she said. “Well, it takes a community to keep a merchant in business. I want to thank Polly Raye, my generous landlady who believed in me when I approached her about the store, and my parents, who have helped me immensely. They are my rock!”

Before Arguello-Dada opened the boutique her father, Andres Arguello, painted the place and built all the shelves while her mother helped choose the merchandise and take care of Amina.

“Then there are the great and dedicated volunteers who want to see me succeed and are making this venture possible,” she said. “I couldn’t keep Amina’s Children Boutique if it were not for them.”

She also wants to thank the many people who knew her as “the hot dog lady” and are now spreading the word about the store.

“Business is a way to bring family and community together,” she said.

The Halloween Party

A Children’s Halloween Party with carnival games, a costume contest and plenty of treats will take place on Saturday, October 31st from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Taos Plaza, Teresina Lane, John Dunn Shops and Bent Street. Arguello-Dada, like most merchants at John Dunn Shops, plans to participate.

She has her costume ready. Every year, for Halloween, Arguello-Dada crochets special outfits for her daughter and for herself.

“Last year, Amina was Little Red Riding Hood I was the wolf,” she said. “This year, she will be Snow White and I will be the Evil Queen.”

With two jobs and the responsibilities of being a single mother, I wonder how she still finds time to crochet

“I do it late and night to wind down, after Amina is asleep and I have finished my orders,” she said. “It’s so relaxing! I love it, and I love my job. Thank you, Taos, and all the wonderful people who keep me in business!”

Amina’s Children Boutique is located at 124D Bent Street

Phone: (575) 770-2963

Hours: Mondays through Sundays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

 

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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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