Gathered: A Native Marketplace is a Native-owned boutique located within the Viejas Outlet Center. They carry items in their shop from over 25 tribal nations.
Here you can purchase pieces such as authentic Native-made jewelry, comforters & blankets, hand-crafted art, beadwork and other crafts, books and so much more!
Gathered: A Native Made Marketplace are also the only store in San Diego that carries Blue Bird flour. It is said that this flour is the ingredient that makes the difference between an average piece of fry bread and a great piece of fry bread.
I got the chance to talk with the owner, Cheryl Vargas Acosta, and learn a little more about herself and what inspired her to open up her shop. Cheryl herself is of Taino descent, whom are the Indigenous People of Puerto Rico. Her husband is Kumeyaay and together they live on the Viejas Reservation located out in Alpine.
Me: What inspired you to open your shop?
Cheryl: It all started in my home on the Viejas Reservation. A group of women and myself would get together and bead. We would trade amongst ourselves in Native fashion. I opened Gathered: A Native Made Marketplace because I felt there was a need to share the beautiful handicrafts of as many Native American people of different Nations and to do my part to keep the art of handmade Indian art alive.
Me: Amazing! So what was the process to actually getting the shop up and running? I imagine this took a lot of work and effort, especially since you have tribes from all over the country included in your shop.
Cheryl: Being off for the Summer from my full time employment as a high school teacher I had the time to learn about business and develop a business plan. I sat down with my good friend and later store manager, Nicole Joles to toss around ideas for a store name that encompassed all tribes. Nicole is a talented artist so I asked her to sketch a picture of a store logo.
I visited other family owned stores including non-Native stores to ask questions of what they found successful . I went to Pow Wow’s and discussed with the artists about the possibilities of having their goods for sale in my store, a place where they could sell year round. Not having the capital to stock the store on my own and not wanting to take out any bank loans, I offered consignment possibilities. I traveled to New Mexico and Arizona buying from many talented people and eventually learned where to go to meet many Native artisans from around the world.
Me: Do you know how many different tribes are represented at your store? Or even approximately how many?
Cheryl: Off the top of my head I can name 17 tribes if I walked through my store I’m sure I will see other items made by other Tribal members. Safe to say approximately 25.
Me: Are there any classes offered there ever?
Cheryl: We offer Weaving, beading and painting classes
Me: You also make some of your own products that you sell in the shop, right? What are they again? And what inspired you to create your own line?
Cheryl: The inspiration to create a Gathered beauty line came from the need to supply our customers with a line free of chemicals. We use all natural ingredients to produce our body scrubs, bath soaks, lotions and soaps. We also carry a line of candles created for Gathered. The candles are soy based, the fragrance is our stores signature scent , last longer and burn cleaner.
It has been and always will be here to serve the community. We believe in providing our shoppers with quality products as well as outstanding service. Since day one, a genuine love and passion for our own market patrons has defined who we are and what we do.