Celina Rael Trujillo has spent her life (with the exception of some years when she attended PIMA Medical-Albuquerque to receive her pharmacy tech certification) in northern New Mexico. She was born in Questa, the daughter of Don and Valarie Rael, and is currently an Amalia resident. It’s clear that she loves the place that she calls home and the chance to creatively develop products to promote the region’s businesses, which include healthcare facilities, schools, and event catering. Trujillo makes products to support causes and families. Her business is called Northern Designs.
In addition to being a small busi- ness owner and the mom of Janae, her 17-month-old daughter, she is the worship pastor of Living Word Ministries in Questa. She explains that waking up in the morning to the beauty and grace of our environment brings her joy. She speaks with a sense of optimism and enthusiasm.
Trujillo, who worked full-time as a pharmacy technician, changed her course after she lost a child. “I worked 16 years at the Indian Health Service in Taos as a pharmacy technician. I worked there until 2017. We [she and her husband Chris] lost our daughter that year. It was a rough time in my life, so I then worked part-time for the pharmacy in Questa,” Trujillo said.
Once she gave birth to Janae, she sought an opportunity that would offer her more time with her young daughter. Around the same time, Shelli Rivera was selling her design business (State Line Graphics). In March of 2021, the Trujillos purchased the business, which they then named Northern Designs.
“I have a 17-month-old daughter and really did not want to go back to work full-time. This was an opportunity for me to stay home with my baby girl,” she said. Trujillo said that her daughter’s name, Janae, means “answered our prayers.”
While Trujillo runs the business, Chris chips in to help when he isn’t working as a certified Diesel Tech for Taos County Fleet Department.
She is enthused by early successes in her business that include customers from Albuquerque to Colorado. Northern De- signs offers a vast array of products that are specifically designed for each customer. “We do embroidery, hats, shirts, jackets. Our biggest thing is T-shirts, completed through a process called digital transfer. We can get detailed with our artwork. Pictures on T-shirts come out really nice. We have dabbled in banners. We have made shot glasses, mugs, and other items, too,” she said.
Northern Design’s customers include Duran Gas and Grocery in Costilla, The Village of Questa, The Town of San Luis, Questa Schools, and many other organizations and families. While she has a Facebook page, most of her customers come to her by word-of-mouth.
Trujillo explains that some of her orders are highly personal—commemorating births, family reunions, weddings, deaths, and other events that remain in our memories. “…Personalized shirts that you put aside in those little memory box- es. It is awesome to look back and have custom-made memories. I have gotten a lot of calls for memorial shirts—people who have passed away. It’s nice to hear the stories about the person. It makes you feel like you are a part of it somehow. It becomes a memory for me.”
Aside from her family, her great love is living in and serving the community that raised her. Trujillo’s connection
to the area runs deep, as her husband Chris is from Amalia and her mother from Costilla.
“I love the small town and the quiet and the nature. I honestly am really loving what we are doing as far as the creative part of the designing. This is really bringing people’s visions to life. People call and I take what they want and they put their own personal spin on it. It has been really fun to let people know what we can do. We can take what they want and turn it into an actual project.”