Blue Amber Trio Boutique
CHamoru Village Units 144 & 145
153 West Marine Corps Dr.
By Josie Moyer
Amber Word has lived a nomadic lifestyle for most of her life: settling in a new place for a few years before moving on to the next destination. She found herself in Thailand for five years where she opened a yoga studio, community center and tea shop. But she felt that chapter of her life was coming to a close.
Word had a sister who worked on Guam as an environmental engineer at that time; her sister suggested she visit. Without a plan or notion of how long she would stay, Word booked a one-way ticket from Thailand to Guam and arrived on the island with $200 in her bank account.
“I came here and for the first time in my life I couldn’t get a job. I have so many different things that I’ve done, I’ve never had problems getting work. But I didn’t have any connections here. I applied for everything from random things at the newspapers, journalist positions, working the presses, graphics positions,” she says.
While in Thailand, Word had established a store with the Etsy online marketplace where she sold handcrafted jade jewelry. She updated her store’s location to Guam and within days received an invitation from the Guam Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Connection to be a vendor at its next craft fair. GNOSC had found Word’s Etsy shop through a random search for Guam crafters.
“The fair went really well, so I decided to try Chamorro Village,” Word says. “I started setting up one little table at the Wednesday night market, and then I did all the other fairs and I was able to support myself with just making jewelry.”
Setting up tables for the weekly markets and festivals was taxing but the idea of opening a brick and mortar store was not feasible: she didn’t have the inventory or the capital. It occurred to her that if she could find other people willing to share a space, they could open a type of co-op and split the rent and work hours.
Word approached all of the local crafters she could find and pitched her idea. In less than a year from moving to Guam, The Guam Art Boutique, a co-op between eight creators, opened at Chamorro Village.
Over time, members of the Guam Art Boutique relocated off-island or launched stores of their own and the co-op has been rebranded as the Blue Amber Trio Boutique. No longer a co-op, Word purchases products from artists and crafters wholesale.
“The name Blue Amber Trio is based off my family as a trio: my mom, my sister and I. The trio is the three of us. My mom’s nickname is Blue, my sister’s middle name is Blue, and I’m Amber.”
The 35-year-old creative nomad has not (yet) heard the call to venture elsewhere. For the past six years, Word has been happy to call Guam home, the place she has lived the longest.
What does your business offer?
At Blue Amber Trio Boutique, my focus is gemstone jewelry and things that have a healing slant, especially surrounding mindfulness and accountability for your actions. So, for example, if you’re an angry person, find things that are cooling — stones that can help you calm down, scents that can help you calm down, meditation tools to be able to recognize and release your anger — those types of things. That’s very much my focus as a business owner: wellness and sustainability. We carry products like essential oils, sage and lemongrass smudge sticks, made in Guam laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, and many other products made by local crafters and entrepreneurs such as Little Village, Sirena Sirena, Get a Glow On, Maisa and Autonomous Ink.
How has your business evolved over the years?
When we opened the Guam Art Boutique, there was nowhere that we knew of that was just for local crafters to sell stuff. Now there are many places for local makers to sell their products. One of my passions is helping spread entrepreneurship. That was the whole idea behind the Guam Art Boutique and we sold only Made-in-Guam products. At Blue Amber Trio Boutique, my focus is gemstone jewelry, wellness and sustainability. A lot of it, but not all, is made in Guam. I also cut off consignment because it was too difficult to manage and now just purchase wholesale. We’re always looking for people who are making products that have to do with sustainability or helping people to heal themselves to heal the world.
What are you working toward for the future of the store?
Being a store that prides itself on ethical gifts and sustainability, there’s a place in me now where I’m beginning to shift in figuring out how we can be more mindful of the origins of the stones. Unfortunately, most people will not disclose origins so what we’re doing now is trying to make contact with small sustainable mines. The direction I’m going in now, and part of why I’ve been traveling so much lately, is finding people who are ‘rock hounds.’ Rock hounds are people who collect stones on the surface. Ideally, I want to transition so that all of our stones have a story that links it to the land that it’s from and the people that made them.
Are there things you would like to be doing apart from the business of Blue Amber Trio?
Yes. Talking about the stones and sustainability, in all actuality this is a capitalist venture. It’s a money-based venture even though that’s not where my ideas lie. I don’t know how long I’ll be in a store — it’s like my brain changes around what I need. I have several friends that are yoga teachers and I teach meditation so I’ve done some workshops and I’ve held classes with them before. I’m really passionate about trauma work.
What’s trauma work?
There’s this idea that all of us have countless traumas that are locked inside of us. If we don’t acknowledge and work with that then it can create discordances both within our bodies and also our relationships with people and the community. The idea is that if you can go in and look at that and become compassionate to yourself and that situation, it can allow you to heal and repair these things in your own life, which is very freeing. So, moving more into work like that, holding meditative space and helping people work through some of the harder stuff in their lives. That’s the stuff I’m really passionate about it.
What was the last thing you did to challenge yourself?
I’ve been letting go of a lot of my material belongings, including my house. Now I just house-sit for people or I camp in a tent, so I’ve been essentially homeless for the last four months. I never thought I could do it because I love spaces. But I tend to put myself in situations that challenge my psyche or my attachments to beautiful things. So, I’ve given a lot of my things away and I have many things out on long-term loan but, in all actuality, they’re probably gone.
What have you learned about yourself in the last four months?
I’ve learned that I don’t need as much as I thought. I really don’t need that much. And I feel so much lighter. My life just feels lighter and this experience is teaching me a lot. When I’m not trying to control my life, it opens me up. A lot of my time is sitting with people that are going through stuff. There’s the trauma component that we’re talking about and there’s a lot of that here. I believe that human consciousness is connected. We’re all connected to each other and the more that we do our work to heal ourselves and heal our communities, the more that’s modeling for other communities all over the world to do the same thing. So, it’s worth more of my time to sit with people when they’re going through stuff and give them tools to be able to go deeper into it and let go. And, because my energy isn’t spent on worrying about the bills, or worrying about cleaning this thing or that thing, it’s freeing me up to be doing things that I think are more important for other people.
Hours: Monday to Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.