What do you do? ....
Curtis Noriega

Where do you work and what is your title?
       I am the owner/manager of Maketi Mua Marketplace, Colorado Springs only Fair Trade Shop.
What do you do there and/or what are you responsible for?
       My wife DeAnna and I operate an international gift shop, with items from all around the world that are all fairly traded. Fair Trade basically means the artisans are being fairly paid for the work before it ever leaves their country.
How long have you been doing this kind of work (total)? How long on the Westside?
        We opened our shop in the fall of 2000, in Old Colorado City, because we felt it had a better business neighborhood than in Manitou Springs.
What do you like best about it (other than quitting time)?
       Maketi Mua, which means marketplace in Polynesian, is kind of like the fulfillment of 30 years of work. DeAnna and I started 30 years ago as Peace Corps Volunteers helping people in Western Samoa. While there we learned to appreciate the marvelous handicraft work the people do in third world countries. After returning to the United States, we taught school, did social work and ran a pizza business in Southern Oregon for many years. We came to Colorado Springs in 1998, when we tried out retirement and so that DeAnna could be near her mother. Then after a few boring months we decided to get up and do something that we had been thinking about for so many years.
If you could change one thing (other than pay), what would it be?
       We really would like for the business to be strong enough to at least pay all of its expenses.
What part of your work did your training/education never prepare you for?
        I would have to say that none of my education or training really prepared me to own my own shop. I finished my education with a masters degree in science education and worked for a few years as a junior high school science teacher. Everything else I have done in my life has been pretty much self-taught.
What makes working on the Westside special?
       Working in the best shopping neighborhood in all of Colorado is a real joy. It is truly amazing to me just how many people who live east of Academy Boulevard don’t even know that Old Colorado City is here and open all year around, with over a hundred unique and locally owned businesses.

“What do you do?” is a regular feature in the Westside Pioneer. Call us with potential victims... er, candidates!