“A goat and a cocoa farmer walk into a bar . . .”
No, that’s not right.
“A ski bum and a chocolatier ride up a chair-lift together.”
Yes, that’s it!
Haleigh Palmer is that ski bum. She’s also owner of chocolate + cashmere, a luxury boutique originally in Taos, and now in Santa Fe. The newest location is Breckenridge, Colorado. Palmer got the idea of uniting the two dreamy items, chocolate and cashmere, while at Taos Ski Valley with a friend who happens to be a master chocolate maker.
The shop is indulgent. It indulges your senses with colors, textures, style and deliciousness. Wrap a scarf around your shoulders or pop a decadent, uniquely flavored chocolate in your mouth and your endorphins will be jumping with delight.
The intrigue of the Santa Fe shop begins before you even walk through the door. Its historically significant address, 109 E. Palace Avenue, was that of the administrative offices of the Manhattan Project during World War II. The courtyard vigas date to 1650. And yet stroll inside the store, and you’ll discover a contemporary, bright and cheerful space. The rainbow of colors, from neutral to bold, fills the shelves, and new hues are introduced each year. “The celebration for us is in the color,” says Palmer.
Knitted by artisans, this cashmere feels soft and luscious. It hits the right balance between delicacy and durability. The material is sourced from a small patch of Mongolian goats’ underbellies. It’s shipped off to Scotland and Italy, where the hair is spun into a knittable yarn. Most items are knitted in the Santa Fe studio. Part of that studio space includes a new, aromatic chocolate kitchen, where bakers are busy whipping up inventive chocolate confections, such as blackberry/sage and blood orange/fennel, and painting them by hand with beautiful designs in cocoa butter paint. “We are reaching new levels of chocolate design and flavor that we haven’t seen before in New Mexico,” says head chocolatier Bethany Orbison.
While the shop is now filled with many treasures to try on, taste and discover, it all started with one very simple, very stylish and very warm hat: the iconic Cashmere Watchcap. Palmer, like so many others, had been part of its cult following. In fact, it was that cozy and coveted cap that inspired Palmer to start her business. The world just could not go on without this beloved headwear. She took her very own original Watchcap, a bright pink one, and taught herself how to knit. “I believe in having fewer things but making them great,” she says. “The Watchcap is one of those pieces, so simple and a wardrobe staple. You’ll have it forever.”
As with the Watchcap, Palmer put other cashmere products through real-world tests for resilience and comfort.” One of those was the Neck Gaiter. Palmer says she just can’t go skiing without it. “The wetter, icier and colder it gets, the more lovely and warm it gets. It dries really quickly,” she says. “Even when it’s frozen and wet, it keeps me so cozy. Maybe there’s something natural about that, perhaps the way an animal would feel.”
Palmer is also really fond of the Hip Skirt, an originally designed loop to wear over jeans or leggings around your core, tush and upper legs for an extra dose of warmth and fashion. The Fingerless Gloves, Armwarmers and Cabled Armwarmers all offer comfort from the cold, yet finger access to accommodate all of life’s tangible demands. For instance, the top priority on that list might just be keeping your fingers free to grab that last piece of chocolate in the box.
Alana Grimstad is an experienced, award-winning journalist, writer and photographer based in Santa Fe who loves to meet interesting people and is honored to share their stories.