Family is key at RedClay | SteamboatToday.com

Family is key at RedClay

Cindy LaDue expected to come for a visit, instead opens a craft and art shop

Blythe Terrell

Cindy LaDue recently opened RedClay, a store in Hayden on Jefferson Avenue selling mostly locally produced crafts. She often cares for her grandchildren, including Lincoln Chaney, pictured, while running the store.

— Cindy LaDue came to Hayden for a two-week stay in February. Two weeks became three months. Three months might become forever. LaDue started a business on Jefferson Avenue and has settled in town.

LaDue chatted about her past and her future Tuesday as her 15-month-old grandson, Lincoln Chaney, tottered around her shop, RedClay.

She came to town after the sawmill she worked for in Washington shut down. LaDue stayed with her daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Ben Chaney, helping care for Lincoln and his 2-year-old sister, Jaylah. The couple is expecting another child Christmas Eve.

“I said, ‘I need to go home,'” LaDue said. “And they said, ‘Please don’t go home.’ I said, ‘OK, then I need a job. Like, a real job.'”

She stayed and started sewing baby products such as bibs, diapers and blankets. LaDue began selling them at craft shops and the Hayden Marketplace. She eventually rented her own space on Jefferson and helps care for the grandchildren every day.

“I’ve sewn since I was 6 or 7 or 5, like my granddaughter does on my lap,” LaDue said. “I can’t sew without one of them on my knee.”

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The children call her “mom-mom,” she said, and call her daughter “mommy.”

LaDue carried Lincoln around Tuesday as he giggled and grabbed at the merchandise. He was decked out in western gear: a plaid shirt, jeans with a fake belt and buckle sewn on, and a neck garment LaDue calls a “bibdanna.”

As she met people at craft fairs and across town, LaDue picked up items to sell at RedClay. She offers pencil portraits by artist Glen Powell, oil candles, Rodeo Cosmetics, refinished children’s furniture, soap and other products.

LaDue said she tries to stick to a western theme. At the store’s grand opening this weekend, Jim Steinberg will sign copies of his book, “Colorado Scenic Byways: taking the other road.”

“Cindy just has the most eclectic group of things that she sells, and we just think Cindy’s great,” said Mark Fischer, who stopped by LaDue’s store Tuesday morning.

LaDue lived on a ranch in western Washington, raising her four children mostly as a single parent. She said she loved Hayden not only for the sunny, dry weather but also for the community.

“I have more genuine friends here since February than I had in all my years in Washington, and that is the truth,” LaDue said.

She also enjoys running the store, though she said it had been a lot of work. LaDue stripped and textured the walls herself, painting them red, blue and yellow. She gussied up the bathroom, doing it up as a rodeo queen dressing room.

LaDue hasn’t set hours, but she expects to be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays when she’s not at fairs and sales. She plans to sell items at the Hometown Holiday event today in Steamboat Springs.

LaDue has joined the Routt County CattleWomen and is collecting items to mail to U.S. troops overseas. That drive is personal: Her daughter Rebekah LaDue is serving in the Air Force in Iraq. Thankfully, Cindy LaDue said, they’ve kept in touch.

“Just about every other day, she calls,” LaDue said.

Rebekah LaDue is due back in February.

Cindy LaDue’s life is all about family, she said. Her children and grandchildren are the priority. Her shop had the feel of a family place Tuesday. A small, tan dog, Sadie, relaxed near the door.

“We have friendly conversation here for free,” LaDue said with a smile.

She wants her store to be a positive spot. Again, LaDue said, she loves the town of Hayden.

“It just feels good here,” she said, looking absently around the bright shop. “It feels good here.”