About our current owners:
Keith Allen West
West, the Millionaire Branding Coach & self-proclaimed Mad Scientist, is an extremely successful and energetic presenter on branding, marketing, and extreme retail growth strategies. Since 2014 he has reached the Inc. 500/5000 list with two of his cosmetics companies by growing revenue over 1,000%. Urban Fresh Cosmetics, grew sales from $200,000 to $3.1 million in just three years.
Keith Allen West, the Millionaire Branding Coach & self-proclaimed Mad Scientist, is an extremely successful and energetic presenter on branding, marketing, and extreme retail growth strategies. Since 2014 he has reached the Inc. 500/5000 list with two of his cosmetics companies by growing revenue over 1,000%. Urban Fresh Cosmetics, grew sales from $200,000 to $3.1 million in just three years.
Through a series of major life events, West has become an accomplished skincare marketing expert, journalist, motivational coach, and leader in the climate crisis. West is a globally recognized speaker on sustainable business success, especially within the spa and wellness industry being honored with the Top Green Spa Award from DaySpa Magazine. Former Vice President Al Gore trained West in Johannesburg, South Africa as a Climate Reality Leader to teach solutions to our climate crisis.
His studies in world wellness rituals earned him a Doctor of Divinity degree. His companies have been featured by BRAVO TV, HGTV, People Magazine, USA Today, VOGUE, Huffington Post, The Guardian, LA Times, NY Times, FOX, CNN, AOL, MSN, NPR and many more media outlets. His small business reality series through AOL reached 24 million.
Active in the community, Adam regularly speaks to groups about financial wellness and current economic trends and news. He has served in many leadership roles locally and on a national level. Active 20/30 Club of United States and Canada, Young Professionals of Albuquerque, and the Governing Council of the Public Academy for Performing Arts charter school, just to name a few. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House of New Mexico and Junior Achievement of New Mexico. In 2012, he received the “40 Under Forty” Award from Albuquerque Business First and this year Adam was a Young Leader Nominee for the 2016 "New Mexico Ethics in Business" award. This year Adam was honored with the AssetMark Community Inspiration Award for all of his dedication to the Albuquerque community.
West and Ciepiela purchased the 45-year-old Clear Light after it closed in March 2016. Using unorthodox marketing and branding ideas, they plan to get the sales to grow 400% in two years.
The History Of Clear Light
The story of Clear Light’s long-term success is truly the story of the original owner and founder Josh Peine, his legacy, his journey, and the land that surrounded him. Peine began packaging cedar needles from the nearby trees in sachets, as gifts for close friends and family. In 1971 the demand for his small gifts grew into a business which he began calling Clear Light, an homage to his love for religious readings, and specifically, a state of being outlined in ancient Tibetan texts.
The southwest cedar has been a focal point of life for the Hopi Indians of this region. They’ve long used it for the health and purification properties they claim it possesses, and when Joshua Peine, a former actor, by chance settled in the northern section of central New Mexico and learned about cedar from the tribe, he knew this was where he belonged.
Peine, who passed away in 2006, is still the primary influence on operations at Clear Light, which is run by the company’s small and dedicated staff, and Peine’s sister Penny, who took over ownership and operations following his death.
Cedar needles have long been used by Native Americans who believe it possesses therapeutic and healing properties. After settling in New Mexico, Peine learned through Hopi Indian ceremonies the benefits and therapeutic use of cedar. Also a natural insect repellent and coupled with its distinct fragrance, cedar has become widely used in homes across the American Southwest.
In 1984, through customer testimonials about Clear Light’s sachets, the company received publicity in The New York Times and Apartment Life magazine, which accelerated Clear Light’s growth. The newfound exposure led to contracts with L.L. Bean and Orvis, and a need to produce his sachets in bulk. It became an important benchmark in Clear Light’s history, enabling Peine and his company to expand. They also began exploring new products, and Peine began incorporating the needles in a moisturizer lotion, one of the company’s most popular products. Clear Light has since expanded its catalog to cedar-based products including incense, hand cream, shampoo, candles, and soaps. With new retail business and an expansion of the catalog, the company was quickly hitting its stride.
In order to maximize the properties of the cedar, the staff at Clear Light only harvest when the trees aren’t pollinating, primarily in the winter months. They make the short trip into the hills just up the road from the company’s home office in a rusty pickup truck that picks and chooses when it wants to start.
The trees grow on government land, which the company is authorized to use. Once the cedar boughs are pruned from the trees and complete the curating process, they’re run through a large shaker, which removes any of the pollen, leaving the needles in their most pure and aromatic form. One of Clear Light’s flagship products is its incense, formed out of a day long cooked cedar tea and then mixed with cedar oil and a proprietary gum. The clay-like substance is then run through a mold and dried for four days before it’s packaged for the customers.
Making cedar products was never part of Peine’s plan. After building a successful acting career in Hollywood throughout the 1960’s and armed with a handful of film and television credits, Peine grew tired of auditions, rejections, and head shots. So, he did what thousands of actors did before and after him, and in1970 he left it all behind. Peine, an avid biker, climbed on his Harley Davidson and headed north, looking for opportunity or chance, not sure which would show its face first. He rode through California and into southern Canada, before looping around and making his way south to New Mexico and the small community of Placitas.
A dynamic people person with a knack for making friends, Peine forged a relationship with members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes nearby and by chance, it provided the opportunity he was looking for when he left Hollywood. He learned from the Native Americans the properties and uses of cedar, something that piqued his interest from the very start. Peine had found exactly the place that he didn’t know he was even looking for. An adventurer with a love for all things outdoors, Peine soon felt at home.
“When he got on that motorcycle, I don’t think he had any idea. He wanted to take a break, and see where it took him,” his sister says. “It was by chance he wound up with the lore and a fluke that he wound up with the information. It captured his interest, and that’s how it started.”
A tireless worker, Peine would labor over product development for months until it was just right. His office still sits largely unused, with his nameplate still situated on the front of his large desk. The vision of what Joshua Peine built when he left Hollywood is still alive and well.
“He was a very rare person, you could love him and hate him within the space of five minutes,” Penny says. “But at the heart of it, was that sweet nature that came through. He believed in it, he really believed in its positive properties."
The staff at Clear Light is very aware of the legacy that Peine began building when he got off his Harley Davidson 44 years ago. And at the root of that legacy is the passion and belief that cedar-in any form-brings joy to others.
“He put his whole heart and soul into Clear Light, and he was a real cedar person,” Lewis said. “That’s what he would call people. People that would come in and love cedar, they’re definitely cedar people.”
“He loved the whole concept, he really believed in cedar,” his sister Penny says. “He could sell it to anyone, and that’s how he started it and he was better at that than anyone I have ever known.”