Antoinette Martinez loves hearing the stories that customers share about shopping at her downtown Santa Fe store, Sign of the Pampered Maiden. One woman reminisced about buying her prom dress there. Another shared how she had diligently saved her money in high school so she could purchase her favorite pieces.
Martinez has her own memories. She remembers being a young girl and shopping at Sign of the Pampered Maiden with her grandmother. Now, she owns the place. “I want girls growing up in Santa Fe today to be able to share the same kind of stories,” she says.
Martinez, a Santa Fe native and young mother, bought the shop from its longtime owner in August 2020, smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. While many business owners were fearing for their livelihoods, she made a leap of faith and took over the iconic Santa Fe shop.
When Martinez started her professional journey at Sign of the Pampered Maiden as a sales representative in 2012, she immediately recognized the power and inspiration of the shop’s unmistakable logo: a chic lady with voluminous curly hair, playfully wearing a dress that’s glamorously draped off her shoulders. “Everyone knows the lady on our sign,” says Martinez. “I’ve really branded her. I have her painted on the wall. People love to take selfies with her. She’s this incredible boss babe, a powerful woman who holds her own in a world of men.”
Sign of the Pampered Maiden opened its doors on Water Street in 1968. Under Martinez’s ownership, the beloved store, along with its lady logo, moved to a bright space on Galisteo Street, where customers are invited to explore an array of trendy clothing, jewelry and accessories. Many items are made by local artists and designers.
Shoppers see Martinez’s smiling face and enjoy her bubbly personality while they peruse racks of stylish clothing. Martinez introduced many original designers into her collection while continuing to sell longtime brands that customers know and love.
“My favorite customers are willing to try something new,” Martinez says. “They leave really happy and feel great in their clothes. That’s the ultimate reward.”
Equally important as the clothes on the hangers is the legacy Martinez is continuing — a mission to ensure locals always feel welcome in downtown Santa Fe. She has great pride in being a born and bred Santa Fean who owns one of the city’s most notable stores on one of its most prominent streets.
“I have 20-year-olds coming into the store telling me they’ve never shopped in downtown stores before,” Martinez says. “I want them, and their parents and grandparents, to know downtown is for them. It’s not just for tourists. It’s for all of us.”
Martinez is grateful for her family’s help, from her mother who steams clothes to her four-year-old son who loves to turn the lights off at the end of the day. It’s with their unwavering support, as well as silent support from the luxurious lady on the logo, that Martinez followed the signs that led her to pamper the girls, women and maidens of her very own hometown.
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.