Jessie Baca, Founder of Sol Maven & Painter
How did you get started working in your craft?
Sol Maven has been cooking in my mind since late 2017. At that point I had been in the wedding design world for 12 years and feeling a pull for a more service-oriented calling. As a single mom that learned about the importance of taking care of yourself the hard way, I wanted to help moms, and even women who weren’t moms, find a way to dive in to discovering their true selves. After much stewing, sifting, and soul searching, Sol Maven was officially birthed in January 2019. Our first getaway was called “Holiday Rehab for Moms.” We pampered the heck out of some hard working mamas with a private chef, foot rubs, guided hikes in the hills of Ghost Ranch, meditative breath work, and a swag bag that out-did Santa himself.
What was your professional journey before working in this field?
I have been in the event design business for the last 13 years, servicing mostly boutique weddings in Santa Fe’s destination market. I took pride in offering a high brain/left brain approach with design aesthetic guidance for my clients as well as expert logistic planning. It has been wonderful owning my own business and being my own boss, two things I knew needed to stay the same in any future work capacity, but it was time to dive into something deeper and with a little more soul. Sol Maven still taps into my event planning skills and basically creates a platform for healers and teachers to share their wisdom to clients in a unique setting.
What do your days typically look like?
There is nothing 9-5 about my day and I love it! Basically everyday feels like a Sunday, which reminds me of the saying, “find something you love to do and you’ll never work another day in your life!” I’m a single mama, and so there is always lunch-making and getting the kiddo out to school, but I am immersed in my community, so much of my day is spent with clients, friends, and colleagues cooking up new projects and experiencing many of the teachings I like to share with my clients. I’m usually hiking in the Santa Fe foothills, taking a Yoga class, or in any sort of therapy I can get my hands on, whether it be acupuncture, cranial sacral, or talk therapy. All these things help me delve into the process I want to share with my clients to expand their journey to a more authentic life.
What makes your experiences special?
Sol Maven is special because it’s not your normal “retreat.” My goal is to make it as approachable and comfortable for all levels of soul-searchers to come discover a piece about themselves, not to feel like they already have to have attained enlightenment to come to one of our workshops. I also love a more interesting approach, for example, we did an energy workshop to release stagnant winter energy and get ready for the fresh breath of spring. Instead of getting too “heady,” our goal was to get out of our minds and into our bodies. We used all kinetic movements to move this energy and started with a stack of vintage china and smashed the heck out of them. Then we did yoga movement and dance and basically got all our wiggles out, then we were guided through vocal breath work and ended up roaring like lionesses! There was so much energetic movement; it was wild, freeing and invigorating!
What is your future vision for Sol Maven?
The goal is to host 4 overnight getaways for a deeper dive into our soul-work. There will also be monthly day-workshops as well as workshop series available to participate in. I hope to reach a national market to share the beauty of the high-mountain desert that has been such an integral part of my healing.
What's your favorite thing about your work?
My favorite thing about facilitating these Sol Maven gatherings is connecting with people. I love to be present with the women in our gatherings and truly see them. I think that is what we all truly want, just to be seen. It is the best gift I can give.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
I’m not concerned about making money because I love doing this so much. I suppose that is the challenge: to still earn a living while following a dream so passionately. I believe it will all work itself out, but I probably should think about how to pay rent…or not, hehe!
Who do you go to for professional advice, and what's the best advice they've given you?
My parents are my go-to source for advice. They are both entrepreneurs and have always been supportive of me doing my own thing and going against the norm. They have taught me that the money will always work itself out, and to just do what I love. It doesn’t have to be a 9-5, or require an internship, or a resume, just follow what lights you up no matter how that looks.
What advice can you give to budding creatives and entrepreneurs in Santa Fe?
Damn the man and follow what lights you up! There is no reason to stay in a secure but miserable job just because you “should.” I have talked so many people into quitting their jobs and following freelance life, and it has been beautiful to watch them succeed. I remember Jess Evans sitting in my studio dreaming about “someday when she would have a beauty haven for women” and I laugh now when I can hardly get an appointment at her Beauty Bar because business is booming and she is doing so well! Or watching Melissa Paquin slay the wedding floral game, and I remember helping her design her logo for Renegade Floral when she first ventured out. I guess you could say I give a good pep talk for anyone looking to leap into entrepreneurship. Life is too short and too precious to waste your energy doing something you hate. Even if the money is good, being miserable is NEVER worth it. That is no way to live!
When and why did you decide to move to Santa Fe?
After living in LA for 6 years, I was ready for a change of pace. I pulled the e-brake and I moved to Santa Fe in 2005 to become a painter. At the time I had at least 6 side hustles, all creative and very fun, and many of which I have kept going, but the event planning organically took shape and I just followed the unfolding. Event design came naturally and easy, and with Santa Fe being a huge destination wedding market, I never had to advertise -- there was always boatloads of work!
What makes Santa Fe special to you? What is/are your favorite thing(s) about this place?
Oh, there are so many things that make Santa Fe so special to me. I miss it terribly when I leave and am always dying to get back. Although it is sometimes a blessing and a curse, I love the small community and the close-knit tribes I have found here. I love nothing more than walking into a coffee shop and running into 8 people all from different circles. I also adore the outdoors and all of the amazing options we have. I LOVE to hike our foothills, ski the big hills, boat the Rio Grande and the Rio Chama, and camp under the big skies. It is seriously such a magical place! Every season I fall in love with Santa Fe all over again.
If you could change one thing about Santa Fe, what would it be?
Hmmmm, free two hour parking everywhere! Luckily, it is a small town, and I can put in a good word with a few people at the top, haha!
What are you passionate about outside of your craft?
My passion comes from creating beauty in all things, large and small throughout my life. From the way my son’s dinner plate looks to the little altar shrine on my mantle. I love paying attention to the small details and bringing a presence and thoughtfulness to them. I love to create and make and that has become my meditative state. My garage is a converted art studio with a pottery wheel and all the craft supplies a girl could hope for. I love spending a good “crafternoon” in the studio using my hands to create.
Over the past two years I have deepened my meditation practice. It is the piece of my life that truly grounds me and allows for so much flow in my daily state. I love to study conscious embodiment, conscious relationships, and the dialog of the subtle, yet profound, language of the body between the two. I love to think about our role on this earth as energetic beings and how we can tap into the subtle cues from nature to dive deeper into our own personal growth. This is why being in the magical high desert is so important to me. I am constantly journalling and in the thick of as many wellness and self-help books I can get my hands on…currently the list is 12 books and would happily nerd out in discussion of any of them.
At the end of the day, why do you do what you do?
Someone once asked me what I’d fight for and told me that answer should be my new career. I thought, “I’m not a fighter, that’s silly!” But the more I thought about it, I realized that I wanted to fight for moms. I wanted to stick up for moms that work so damn hard and give of themselves until they have nothing left. I wanted to stop that, break the selfless legacy we have been taught and provide them with the preventative medicine against burning out. I wanted to give them permission to take care of themselves and to treat themselves to something special because they deserve it. I think this is even appropriate for non-moms and that is why our workshops are open to all women. If you can learn to put on your oxygen mask first, and take care of yourself, you can serve your family, friends, and community with your whole self, rather than just a husk of yourself. I learned this the hard way and want to share my mistakes, and more importantly the incredible value I have gained, in my own soul-search.