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    A Christmas Story: How Organ Mountain Started

    A Christmas Story: How Organ Mountain Started

    A Christmas Story: How Organ Mountain Started

       Humbled. That’s what I tell people when they ask me about Organ Mountain. There are many blessings about our story, but it wouldn’t be a story if we didn’t talk about the journey. A journey that has taught us more in the moments of heartache and pain than we ever could imagine in those moments. In this holiday season, I reflect upon those stories that led to this one about Organ Mountain Outfitters. Here are a few snippets of how we got here today.

       I was in 5th grade, and I sat at the desk drawing in my notepad. I had a pair of white sneakers that were too small for my growing feet. It was the first day of school, and everyone had on new, shirts, pants and shoes. Everyone was excited to see one another and proud to wear the latest and coolest gear. I sat at my desk drawing. My toes were sticking outside my shoes, and I was growing fast. The day before, my mother took me to Dollar General to buy some blue sweatpants and a yellow t-shirt that would be my outfit for the year. I would have to wear this outfit for the time being, and it was all I had. I wasn’t mad, but I was sad. I would also have hope and faith. I would draw the symbols of Nike, Adidas, and Reebok into my notebook and try to draw my logo that would someday grace my own clothing company. I would sketch shirts, pants, and shoes. In my heart, I hoped to help eventually, other kids like me. Kids who were from broken homes. Kids that were abused. Kids who had no electricity or running water. Kids whose parents couldn’t pay for their school lunches. I didn’t know how but I dreamed about someday.

       I didn’t draw much after middle school. I was lost. A wanderer wondering where I would fit in. I loved sports, I loved music, I loved the arts, I loved film and in all this love I never truly fit in. School became boring to me as I saw what waited for me after graduation. Go to college and get a job. A career that would last a lifetime? That’s a little scary and unsettling for someone who didn’t even know who they were as a person yet. I never met my real father and while my mother tried her best we had this great divide between us with my step-father. So here I was in this circumstance-a cycle that would repeat itself if I wasn’t careful. How do you escape the cycle? You have to believe. You have to develop a self-worth. You have to take responsibility for where you are heading, as you grow up. As an adult, I would feel sorry for myself and wonder why everything was being done to me. Why didn’t we have a home? Why didn’t we have food? Why didn’t we have a loving family? Why God, why?

       It took a while. It took some time. It took me going to six different colleges. It took me finding a woman from Las Cruces to provide me with a love I never had. She taught me about family, traditions (which I loathed - because I didn’t have any), and stability. She has provided a safe and beautiful home for our two little children. She has been my mountain of faith and love. She was born and raised in Las Cruces. Her father and mother were small business owners that served our community for over 30 years, and it would be from them where I would learn the traits to help me start Organ Mountain. Her father, Mark Stansell, didn’t try to ever be my lost father but he showed me how to take care of his daughter and a family. He showed me how to be consistent in our work. He showed me how to value everyone around us. He taught me stability.

       We lost Mark, last July to cancer. The same month we set up our first booth at the Farmers Market in 2016. When we found out he had prostate cancer in late 2015, we didn’t know it would be as progressive as it was. It’s tough losing a parent. I had lost my mother and step-father five years ago, and it was the hardest thing I ever went through. It was a chapter in my life that came to a close. It was hard. I didn’t understand why I had to lose my mother. I wanted more time with her. A time to connect and hug. A time for her to spend with her grandchildren. I wanted that lost time given back to me. It’s so hard losing someone. My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Cynthia Stansell, were there for me in those tough times. They were my family. They taught me so much. Now my father-in-law had moved in with us and was dying of cancer. We all thought he would get better. We hoped he would beat cancer. He was the family’s rock. He was the man of our hearts. It’s tough to type these words. I knew I had to do something. My wife would no longer have her father to lean on, and I was still struggling myself to find myself in work. I had been running a semi-successful creative agency, but I didn’t have any experience, and I found myself making a mistake after mistake from a business standpoint. I had to step back and look around me. Look back at my experiences. If I had to start one company now that I truly loved and would be insanely passionate about, what would it be?

       I wanted to work outdoors. I wanted to spend time with my family outdoors. Growing up in Northeast Oklahoma in Native American Territory of the Ozarks was where I found my peace. It was running through the creeks, bluffs, and hills where I could escape it all. I enjoyed nature; I enjoyed being outside. Honestly spending my time outdoors from sun up until sun down was how God saved me. He gave me a path all along, but I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t paying attention because I was feeling sorry for myself. Look at the time spent outdoors. Look at how hard your beautiful mother tried to bring her community together. Look at your father-in-law and how he grew businesses and his family. Look at your community. Look around and see the beauty in the mountains. They are calling.

       This Christmas Day I’m thankful for what Organ Mountain Outfitters has been able to achieve with bringing our community together, giving back to the students on reduced lunch programs at the Las Cruces Public Schools, and inspiring New Mexicans to enjoy our public lands. So when people ask me, and I say I’m humbled, this is why. It’s not perfect, and it has taken a lot of unexpected pain and heartache to be here today. I’m grateful. I’m thankful for you and your support, and I understand the responsibility we have to grow this little brand that started off with a booth at the Las Cruces Farmers Market. We want to be a brand that proudly represents the southwest. We want to be a brand that draws attention to and inspiration from each diverse culture in our region. We want to be a brand that brings the community together. We want to be a brand that gives back to our children. We want to be a brand that inspires people to spend time outside.

       A reporter asked me what we were doing differently to market the region that people are falling in love with. I said that we are doing nothing different. All we are doing is telling stories of the people that have been here for generations. We are just showcasing the values of our community. Hard work. Family. Giving back. That’s all. We have a responsibility to the generations that came before us to continue their story. A story about a mountain and the community that lives in the valley.

    Merry Christmas,

    Chris Lang

    Black Friday Sale + Take 25% Off

    Black Friday Sale + Take 25% Off

    You don't want to miss OUR BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR! This Black Friday take 25% off your entire purchase! Use code: blackfriday at your checkout online or visit us in the heart of downtown Las Cruces at 535 N. Main St. Las Cruces, New Mexico. Our store hours will be from 9 am to 6 pm. Our online sale will start Friday, November 24, 2017, at 12:00 am MST and will end at 11:59 pm MST.

    Las Cruces Public Schools Donation + Organ Mountain Outfitters

    Las Cruces Public Schools Donation + Organ Mountain Outfitters

    Buy a shirt. Give a lunch. Change our community! Thank you to the Las Cruces Public Schools​ for allowing us to partner and provide over $20,000 in donations and over 50,000 lunches to our community.

    Video from Las Cruces Public School Board Regular Meeting 11/14/2017.

    Food Truck Fridays - Luchador Food Truck

    Food Truck Fridays - Luchador Food Truck

    Organ Mountain Outfitters Food Truck Fridays – Luchador Food Truck Interview

    OMO- “What is your name and what do you do?”

     LUCHADOR- “My name is Ivan Saenz, I am the owner of Luchador Food Truck. My wife is actually the owner, but she lets me work here.”

    O- “Tell us about your product and your business.”

    L- “Well, I graduated from NMSU with a restaurant and tourism degree. There’s not a whole lot of options here in Las Cruces so in 2013 we decided to make our own jobs, so we started the food truck. Ya know, we go to Mexico a lot so we were inspired by all the Mexican street food, you know, some of the best meals we’ve ever had. Ya know, fish tacos by the sea, asada tacos on a little street corner somewhere. So, we decided we wanted to do something like that and that’s where we went.”

    O- “What is the one thing that really defines you or separates you from other food trucks and restaurants?”

    L- “Ya know, we try to do things a little different all the time… We’re always trying to push the envelope. We’ve done just things like on our regular menu and we’ve done four-course meals, five-course meals out of our trucks. We’re trying to bring in, ya know, it’s like the whole experience, really. We want [people] to feel [a certain way]. So, when we put out a product or put out anything, we want people to have the whole experience. So, the Luchador theme, ya know, like, everything on out menu has a luchador name… everything is wrestling themed.

    O- “Do you think you will stay with the food truck in the long run, or what do you think the future holds?”

    L- “The food truck scene in Las Cruces is definitely growing. You know, there’s a lot of other food trucks that have come into the scene, and all of us together, I’ve said it before, I don’t see other food trucks as competition, I see them more as collaborators. Ya know, getting the word out to all the people about food trucks and the options that they have. Weddings, office parties, house parties, we do a lot of stuff. We can do a lot of cool things… It’s definitely growing, we like what we’re doing, we wake up and do the best we can and people seem to enjoy it.

     O- “What’s the most rewarding aspect for your business and what you do? When you’re driving your food truck away at the end of the day, what makes you come back?”

    L- “Just how people react to us. A lot of people take pictures of our trucks, we have kind of uncanny-looking trucks. This is the third one we’ve had, the first one was a ’63 Ford Red Wagon and we converted that to a food truck, then we had a 1951 Ford Red Wagon, we converted that to a truck, and this a 1972 Winnebago. So, we always kinda try to reinvent ourselves, just to keep being true and to keep people excited. And, when we see our regulars come back week after week it’s very rewarding.”

    L-“Since we started Luchador Food Truck, when we first started, we kind of were thinking the same way [as OMO], ya know, how we can give back to our community. So, we do a thing we call Lucha-For-Hope where we partner up with Casa Peradinos and Tent City and we serve the homeless for free out of our food truck once a month. We’ve done things, ya know, nice, like fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread, marinated pork chops with garlic mash potatoes, we’ve done smoked brisket plates. So we try to do things that are really cool and kinda wanted to get the word out too so people can help us. We’d like to do it more than once a month, so if they contact Casa De Peregrinos or myself, and they want to be involved in something like that, it’s great. Some of our regular customers… We did a wedding one time and I told the groom about Lucha-For-Hope and he’s like, let me know, I want to go volunteer, so he came one of the days and he helped us serve the homeless. That has actually been one of the [proudest] things that we’ve done, just because of the reaction from some of the homeless, ya know, they are very, very grateful. And we try to do meals that maybe they haven’t had in a long time, ya know. And it shows, ya know, they’ll come back and tell us ‘that was amazing’ or ‘this is great what you are doing’. So, in the same realm of giving back to the community, I wanted to share that with Organ Mountain Outfitters…We’ll probably be scheduling one within the next two or three weeks for [May].

    “We did a triple decker smoked cheese sandwich, so we did, like, smoked gouda, cheddar, provolone on Texas toast. And then it was like a Big-Mac, ya know, bread, cheese, bread, cheese, so it was like a huge sandwich. And then we did a creamy tomato basil soup, ‘cause it was winter time and it was really cold out, and we wanted to do something warm, to really warm them up. So they came over, we served the homeless, usually it’s between 50 and 75 or 80 people that usually come to our line. But, this one gentleman, he came back, ya know, older gentleman… It was very emotional. Ya know, his face was kind of dirty, you could tell he had been crying because he had clean little tear streaks. And he told us, ‘you know what man, that was my favorite food growing up, my mom used to make me the exact same thing. Grilled cheese and tomato basil… I haven’t had that in I can’t tell you how long and I just want to tell you I really, really appreciate. It was delicious…” And, ya know, I mean, that just melts your heart. We were just like, come on let me give you some more, take some with you, please, ya know what I mean. So, like I said they are very responsive to that kind of stuff. Ya know, when you can give them something that they appreciate that much, ya know, it’s like, why couldn’t we budget that… We’ve been doing that since we first opened, its gonna be four years this year since we opened.”

    (talking now about a burger grill off)

    “We’ve actually entered two burger grill-offs against some of the other food trucks here downtown and both times we’ve won first place… We won first place with the Rock, which is like a Hawaiian burger, it’s got pineapple, ham, and burger [patty]. And then the other one we won with was, we call it the Bam-Bam Bigelow Brisket Burger, so it’s a burger with brisket and Chipotle mayonnaise, and it’s really good. So, both times we entered, both times we’ve won first place, so, we just kinda wanted to rub it into the other trucks’ face (jokingly) every time I get, its pretty funny. But, ya know, they all do great stuff, so for me to win those awards it means a lot to us because we are going against such great other trucks.”

    Interview by Kobi Shillings - Instagram @kobiwayne