Interview: Ashley Porter of Porter Lyons

Interview: Ashley Porter of Porter Lyons

Vertebrae. The spinal bones of alligators. That’s what originally got Ashley Porter, founder of Porter Lyons, started as a jewelry maker. Fast forward a few years and several collections later and Ashley now finds herself as one of the more notable jewelers in New Orleans with her pieces ranking as favorites among Louisianians and a bevy of Hollywood starlets alike. I caught up with Ashley at her studio here in NOLA to talk about her lavish collection premieres (hot air balloons! snake charmers!), from where she derives her inspiration, and how she ensures each piece she designs gives back to her community and the environment.

Porter Lyons

Porter Lyons


What led you to start designing jewelry?

I started designing jewelry by a very happy accident when I was down in the bayou sourcing alligator. I had moved back to New Orleans to launch an exotic skin belt line and discovered these alligator bones along the hornback. Personally, I wanted them as a ring, necklace, cuff and started learning jewelry design. I still do classic alligator belts, as that’s the heritage of the brand, but find jewelry has so much more creative license.

What sets the Porter Lyons brand apart from other jewelry lines?

Our mission lies within three fundamental pillars: Culture. Care. Create. Every piece is designed with a specific story that relates to an aspect of culture and has a special meaning to different people. Nothing is designed by chance, but curated for each collections unveiling. We come out with two collections a year and have dynamic launch parties to debut them. In the past we’ve had alligators, nutrias, fire blowers and a hot air balloon, giving our customers memorable experiences that transcend jewelry.  But above the designs and the brand parties we believe in giving back to our community, the city of New Orleans. We give a percentage of our proceeds in every collection to a different cause that fundamentally protects the identity of our city.

Porter Lyons

Porter Lyons

 What drives your community investment choices? 

I think my generation is realizing how removed companies are from their end product.  I know when I was employed by a large organization I felt like my job wasn’t important and was saddened by the disconnect with everyone in the company.   There is a strong movement in America to favor products that are inspired by local artisans and that have a focus that’s larger than profit. The level and quality of my business is greater and people feel more connected to their community when they can see a product that also gives back. Life is richer and better for it.

Each non-profit we work with relates directly to a collection theme, or it’s an issue I want to be more proactive about. The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana was our first partnership and a natural fit since saving our wetlands is fundamental to New Orleans culture. When I heard the statistic that we loose a football field of wetlands every 30 seconds I was shocked. I shared this sentiment when learning Louisiana has the second lowest literacy rate in the nation. It drove me to design a pair of light bulb earrings in which 50% of the proceeds when to the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Prime Time reading initiative. With out latest collection launch, Deco Bohemia, ticket prices whet to the George Rodrigue Foundation which supports art programs for lower income children throughout the state. It’s always been personally important for me to help my community and to build my business with this in mind.

 What’s a typical day at the studio like for you?

Everyday is different. I’ll spend one day researching a specific type of feather, another might start with a meeting for a non-profit, then a womens’ networking luncheon and managing a mini-photo shoot. There’s a good amount of traveling involving trunk shows, and I love meeting customers and seeing them year after year.

Describe your work style in three words. 

Passionate, analytical and systematic.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

The best career advice I’ve ever received came from my father. He told me success in business comes from two things, a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.

What’s next for you and Porter Lyons?

Next up for Porter Lyons is our Spring/Summer 2016 collection; the Creole Wild West which explores the Mardi Gras Indian culture. There will be a few limited edition dreamcatchers and some fun jewelry. Get ready to shake your tail feather at our launch mid April!

Porter Lyons

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 

*all photos by Dominique Ellis

Interview: Genevieve Douglas of KINDRED Studios

Interview: Genevieve Douglas of KINDRED Studios

 

KINDRED Studios

Genevieve Douglas is no stranger to striking out on her own. When the publicist and owner of Uptown PR became a mother she found herself having a hard time keeping her active lifestyle with a little one in tow. Enter KINDRED Studios on Magazine Ave in uptown New Orleans. Geniveve’s philosphy for the lifestyle studio was simple  – KINDRED focuses on fitness and wellness in an upscale boutique environment, for both parent and baby, from prenatal to postpartum phases of parenthood.

The space is airy and collaborative and inviting. I stopped in to chat with Genevieve to get the story behind the studio, what’s next for her and KINDRED and find out what makes her tick. Check out the Q&A below and stop in KINDRED for their next class or event.

 

KINDRED StudiosName: Genevieve Douglas

Title: Founder & Owner of KINDRED Studios

What led you to start KINDRED?

As a busy, new mom living in the Uptown area of New Orleans and adjusting to my new life as a parent and young professional, I was trying to continue my pre-baby life as much as possible while incorporating my daughter into it.

I also saw a demand from other moms looking for interactive activities for a working parents’ schedule. I thought to myself, why isn’t there a common space that is modern and appealing that caters to both working parents and those with a more flexible schedule? Also, as a working parent, any free time I have, I want to spend with my daughter. I would feel guilty spending time working out when I could spend that time with her. This concept allows parents to do something for themselves while spending time with their little ones.

What sets KINDRED apart from other fitness and lifestyle studios?

Well I don’t know any other lifestyle studios, do you? 😉 We describe KINDRED as a “lifestyle studio” because it is way more than just a fitness studio. While we do offer prenatal and baby/tot-friendly yoga, barre, ballet and indoor cycling classes, KINDRED also encompasses wellness, play, juice & coffee and shopping in an upscale boutique environment for modern parents and their babies. We have a padded Romp Room for play suitable for little ones ages 0-3, cold-pressed juices and coffees from Sprout & Press as well as shopping from Zuka Baby. The studio offers multiple breastfeeding and postpartum support groups monthly as well as a nutrition workshop once a month. And bonus: KINDRED also has FREE Wi-Fi for working parents on the go.

What’s a typical day at the studio like for you?

Honestly, it’s a lot of straightening up (setting toys back up in the Romp Room & windexing baby smudges off our mirrors & glass baby gates) and team building with our instructors. We make sure to do a clever Insta post & we’ve been trying to Periscope our classes. But my favorite thing is to welcome a new parent to the studio and tell them what we’re all about. I’m happiest when we have a full class and there are babies all over the studio. It’s like the world’s cutest job.

Describe your work style in three words.

Detailed. Over-analyzed (is that 2 words?). Strategic.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

If it doesn’t scare you (at least a little), don’t do it.

What’s next for you and KINDRED?

Our bike seats are patent-pending and I’d like to pursue product development with those. I hope to make our Uptown location a great success so that we can expand to other areas and eventually franchise.

KINDRED Studios

KINDRED Studios

KINDRED Studios

KINDRED Studios

KINDRED Studios

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 

*photos supplied by KINDRED Studios

 

Interview: Ellen Buckley of Audubon Zoo

Interview: Ellen Buckley of Audubon Zoo

Ellen Buckley | Audubon Zoo | Dominique Ellis

As we gear up for one of our favorite local charity events, I had the good fortune to meet and tour the Audubon Zoo with the annual  Whitney Zoo-To-Do‘s Director of Events, Ellen Buckley. A New Orleans native through and through, Ellen gave me a insider’s look at what it’s like to spend your day among the visitors and animals. As we watched the tents and lights getting set up for Friday’s fete we talked work goals and what her day to day duties are as the planner of one of the city’s most famous philanthropic events.

The yearly party under the oaks at the Zoo is much more than a fundraiser, offering guests an evening of fine dining, dancing and people watching on the scenic grounds of Audubon Zoo. The adults-only, black tie event features a mouth-watering array of cuisine from 70 local eateries and more than 40 specialty and full-service bars serving premium cocktails. Guests also will be entertained by the high-energy sounds of Downtown Fever. Plus, you can feel great about attending as proceeds from the 2015 Zoo-To-Do events will help Audubon Zoo’s orangutans swing into their new home in Asian Domain!

To purchase tickets, visit Audubon Zoo ticket booths (during normal operating hours), call 504-861-6160 or visit www.auduboninstitute.org/ztd.

 

Ellen Buckley | Audubon Zoo | Dominique Ellis

Ellen Buckley | Audubon Zoo | Dominique Ellis

 

 

 

Full Name: Ellen Buckley

Title: Director of Zoo-To-Do events at  Audubon Nature Institute

Tell us about working for Audubon Zoo.

Audubon plays such an important role in his city, managing all of the parks we use every day and providing the city with the opportunity to experience animals and wildlife they might never get to see in its natural habitat while also playing a crucial role in conservation. I love the people I work with because they are all really invested in the work we do. There are some days when I sit up in my office and it feels like just a regular work day, then I hear the whooping of the siamangs, and I remember that my job is different from others.

What drew you to the organization?

Since I was young, I wanted to work at the Zoo. I wanted to be a veterinarian and asked my mom to get me a subscription of zoological magazines. Now, I get dizzy at the sight of blood, so veterinary school was out of the question, but I never lost my desire to work with animals. Somehow I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to combine my love of event planning with my love of animals. It’s so easy to raise money for an organization when you see how much the curators and keepers adore the animals they care for or the excitement of children when they get to see their favorite animal up close for the first time.

Is there a typical day for you?

I love that there really isn’t a typical day. There are some days where I spend most of the day on the phone asking people for donations so that we can produce our events, but then there are other days when I’m out on the grounds of the Zoo with decorators thinking of ways that we can create a beautiful and memorable event. I think that most days we spend our time finding creative solutions! As a fundraiser, we have a limited budget to throw a very large event. We’re so dependent on the kindness of local vendors to donate their product from lumber to office supplies. And all of them have such fondness for the Zoo, that often times it doesn’t take more than one ask to have their help.

What sets this fundraiser apart from others?

The sheer size of the event is always what amazes me. Whitney Zoo-To-Do has live music in three areas of the event, close to 70 restaurants and 50 beverage bars and over 4,000 guests in attendance. The event really celebrates everything that people in New Orleans love…food, drink, music and community. The Zoo and the city have a symbiotic relationship. This event actually grew out of the need to rebuild the zoo into something that the city could be proud of. When the Zoo was in deplorable condition in the 70s, a group of local women rallied together to raise money to restore it through an event held at the Marriott called the Beastly Ball. From this grew Zoo-To-Do! I don’t know one person in the city that doesn’t have a fond memory of going to the Zoo. And where else do you get to see the Zoo at nighttime and all dressed up.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Audubon Zoo? 

If I ever need a pick-me-up, I can walk outside and within a few feet I’m standing in front of the sun bears.

What’s your favorite animal or exhibit? 

If you would have asked me this question a year ago, I would have had a different answer. But recently I had the opportunity to tour a family in the rhinoceros barn and I fell in love! I’ve always thought of rhinos as these giant, scary creatures, but despite their power, I learned that they are actually really shy and pretty docile. I felt so fortunate to have that experience. I think that’s why the Zoo is so important. It changes our perception and understanding of animals.

Ellen Buckley | Audubon Zoo | Dominique Ellis

Who are some of the people you most admire and why?

I think the people I admire the most are the ones that see the positive in every situation. It can be easy to get bogged down with negative things that happen. My older sister is my inspiration. She is 31 years old and was diagnosed with brain cancer, yet I’ve never seen her say “why me?” She is so strong and just wants to make the best out of every day. She’ll do anything and take any chance, because why not? I really admire that.

Describe your personal style in three words:

Classic, eclectic, and colorful. I studied art history in college and always saw fashion as another form of artwork just like sculpture or paintings. In studying different artwork from around the world I found the textiles and patterns in the artwork of different cultures to be so interesting and I love experimenting with different looks especially in fabric and jewelry. I also love watching old movies from the 30s and 40s to see all of the classic styles of the past. The shoes are always my favorite! I think I’m still trying to nail down my style because it changes all the time depending on what I find beautiful.

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 

Interview: Ti Martin of Cafe Adelaide

Interview: Ti Martin of Cafe Adelaide

Perhaps one of my favorite spots in New Orleans for a classy after work drink is the Swizzle Stick Bar at Cafe Adelaide. Helmed in part by Ti Martin, Cafe Adelaide is part of a group of restaurants owned by Martin and her family that includes SoBou in the French Quarter and world famous Commander’s Palace. Ti sat down with me over cocktails in the newly renovated Adelaide to talk about the restaurant’s namesake, what a typical night in New Orleans is like for her and the proper way to make a daiquiri.

Ti Martin of Cafe Adelaide | Dominique Ellis

 

Tell us about Cafe Adelaide. What was the inspiration for the restaurant?

Our Aunt Adelaide was one of the last sort of Auntie Mame, glamourous characters who was out all night entertaining guests and customers for Commander’s Palace and who slept till noon everyday. She and my mother kinda joined houses and we lived with her in her Garden District mansion from the time I was 9 until she died. The entertaining was constant. There was an entire bar room in the house and Adelaide would have Lally and I make cocktails for their guests, sort of like a party trick, from a very young age. We made drinks for everyone – the next door neighbor, Danny Kaye, Rock Hudson, Phyllis Diller. The idea for Cafe Adeliade and the Swizzle Stick Bar was to bring this kind of glamourous and a little naughty attitude that she embodied to a bar and restaurant. Everything, from the menu to the booths to the portraits, was meant to reflect her.

Ti Martin of Cafe Adelaide | Dominique Ellis

 

Ti Martin of Cafe Adelaide | Dominique Ellis

 

In addition to Cafe Adelaide, you also own and run Commander’s Palace and SoBou. What’s it like to be at the helm of such historic and famous New Orleans dining institutions?

Well I mean I don’t get up every day and think that way. I just get up and go to work. It’s our lifestyle. As a business we try and constantly push the restaurants to grow and evolve but they’re also where we get to welcome people into what is like our home. It’s a mindset.

Is there a typical day for you?

No. Just last Tuesday I was in Texas opening up a new Reginelli’s there (Martin is an investor in the franchise) and I was out with all our young employees so I thew on the human pizza suit and went out into the intersection to be silly. I like to be a team player. But then later that night I was back in Commander’s with the fine dining crowd. No day is the same.

Ti Martin of Cafe Adelaide | Dominique Ellis

 

 

What’s your favorite thing about running your own company?

I like to create something out of nothing. Opening businesses and creating new things is always great fun. The challenge with a place like Commander’s is to take something that’s been there since 1880 and make it new and constantly exciting. Numbers and the in and outs of running a business is easy for me but being able to turn people on through our restaurants is really how I get my jollies. That, and teaching hospitality.

Name some of the people you admire. What about them do you appreciate?

There are many people I admire but my mom would be at the top of the list as well as both my aunts. They were just great, smart, generous people who always thought of others before they thought of themselves. Most of the people I greatly admire all care about an old fashioned thing called The Common Good. I was raised to think of New Orleans as just another member of my family. So everything we do is to better her and care for her.

Now for the New Orleans-specific questions. Sidewalk side or neutral ground side?

Neutral ground side. It’s just where my family is.

What’s your favorite dish to order in your restaurants?

Oh my goodness. My favorite dish to order is always our newest one. But I have things I constantly go back to. I can’t go very long without having turtle soup. Or if I’m being naughty, the tasso and shrimp corndogs here at Cafe Adelaide. It’s a little bit of heaven.

Ti Martin of Cafe Adelaide | Dominique Ellis

What’s your favorite thing about New Orleans?

Oh this is a perfect description of what is so great about New Orleans. Just the other night at Commander’s Palace I had the pleasure of meeting and eating with Winston Churchill’s grandson. Guess who he was with. It wouldn’t happen anywhere else. He was with the 610 Stompers. Apparently the Stompers are a huge hit abroad and the city of London is having them perform in their New Years Day Parade in 2017. So here’s the mayor of London and Churchill’s grandson taking them out to dinner to officially ask them to come over the pond. This is the stuff you can’t make up and it only happens here.

Favorite cocktail?

I prefer a Blood & Sand in the winter and in the summer a daquiri. Years ago New Orleans sadly became famous for these really horrific frozen daquiris. The original daiquiri came from Cuba and it’s just three things – rum, sugar and lime. It’s gotta be perfectly balanced with fresh juice, not too sweet, and hand-chipped ice like from the ice block we have here at Adelaide. That is a great daiquiri. If I go somewhere and order one and they ask me what flavor I want I order something else, you know?

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 

Interview: The Grove Street Press

Interview: The Grove Street Press

 

Grove Street Press | Dominique Ellis | New Orleans

Every time I step into The Grove Street Press’s shop all I want to do is sit down and write everyone I know a letter or card. Every detail, from their adorable letterpress stationery, to their Louisiana Parish prints, to their amazing shop decor immediately invites you in and makes you want to go on a treasure hunt! Their collection of antique stamps and taxidermy water fowl are among my favorite things to adore in the shop.

Started by cousins Anna Marilyn and Kate Alice from Lake Charles, The Grove Street Press started as a labor of love from two girls who grew up surrounded by hallmarks of their Southern pasts and the tradition of letterpress printing. They’ve now combined these passions into a unique and captivating business. Tour their shop in New Orleans’ CBD above and check out their interview below.

Grove Street Press | Dominique Ellis | New Orleans

Grove Street Press | Dominique Ellis | New Orleans
You two have such a great rapport with each other and your products are truly one of a kind. Can you tell us what made you want to start working together?

Anna and I are cousins — our moms are sisters and very close, and we both share their personalities and tastes.  The rapport is not at all forced; it comes naturally!  We’ve always been good friends, but applying that relationship to a business partnership wasn’t planned.  I moved back to Louisiana after a stint in Chicago with a mind to start a letterpress business, and Anna happened to have the availability to jump on board, which she did about two months into the planning — and that’s when things really took off.

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

We’ve met so many amazing people!  We knew we loved New Orleans, but we didn’t realize how warm and welcoming the small business community is here until we were in it.  We had so many new connections almost immediately!  Those local connections, through social media, etc,  have led to discovered kindred spirits throughout the country.  It helps make the world cozy to be in touch with people with a shared vision.

Grove Street Press | Dominique Ellis | New Orleans

Grove Street Press | Dominique Ellis | New Orleans

 Your shop is filled with vintage and one of a kind historical peices. Can you describe your own personal style for us? How has it had an impact on the look and feel of your space?

Anna’s and my style, just like our rapport, is a product of our upbringing.  Our childhood homes were filled with American antiques and folk art, and we were raised to respect tradition — both our own, lived, tradition, and traditional crafts.  We have a deep love for the handmade, American heritage, collegiate look.  We’ve combined that look with aspects of the industrial, to envelope our antique printing presses, and our shop was born!

Tell us about your shop dog Mildred! She inspired a line of cards from you. What’s it like having such a charismatic face to your brand?

Mildred is a parti labradoodle with an extremely mild temperament and loads of personality.  Our Mildred card line is meant to be funny, but Mildred herself is such a lady!  We could really see her overpacking for weekend trips with her puppy friends, or putting on sunnies and a headscarf for an outdoor cocktail hour.  (…or maybe we’re just imposing our own personalities and wishes onto hers….but still.  She’s a great pal and a joy of a shop dog!)

Grove Street Press | Dominique Ellis | New Orleans

Grove Street Press | Dominique Ellis | New Orleans

What advice would you offer other women looking to start their own business?

Don’t start a business just because you like the idea of it, or because you’re tired of 9-5.  Make sure you’re fully aware of its ins and outs and like those, too.  There’s a hard, daily grind that goes along with being a small business owner; It’s not always the fun and games that Instagram makes it out to be!

If you didn’t live in New Orleans, where would you live?

The Northeast!  We’d set up our presses in an old barn near the countryside; someplace where all four seasons are real things.  But we’d still be within driving distance of Manhattan, so we could pop in regularly for shopping and dining.

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.  

Hayley Gaberlavage Studio Tour + Magic in Melpomenia

Hayley Gaberlavage Studio Tour + Magic in Melpomenia

Hayley Gaberlavage

You know those days when the setting, the mood, the weather, the cocktails, everything is just perfect? That’s pretty much what happened when Patricia Alexander and I stopped in artist Hayley Gaberlavage’s studio for a tour and to talk about her participation in the upcoming Magic in Melpomenia benefit. Hayley’s home studio is a light filled sanctuary with a balcony to die for overlooking historic Magazine Street here in New Orleans. We sat down over mimosas to discuss Hayley’s body of work, her love of New Orleans, and her excitement over the work Felicity Redevelopment, Inc. is doing to revitalize the Lower St. Charles Corridor. In an effort to fund this redevelopment the organization is holding a benefit this Thursday May 8th complete with an art auction, to which Hayley is donating a piece from her collection (pictured below). During our tour we discovered that in addition to being a talented painter, Hayley is a master flower crown craftsman as well. As champagne hour wore on our visit turned into the type of leisurely art-filled afternoon we New Orleanians know can happen when you least expect it. Just like many of Hayley’s paintings, it was a moment of sunkissed bliss.

Check out Hayley’s interview with Patricia, who is a committee member for this year’s Magic in Melpomenia benefit below and be sure to get your tickets to the benefit this Thursday! Tickets start at just $50 and it’s for an amazing cause! Find out more here: http://bit.ly/1sdNdHo

Hayley Gaberlavage

Hayley Gaberlavage

When did you first realize you wanted to become a full time artist?

I always knew I was an artist. I got an interior design degree but it wasn’t until I started working in that field that I realized I’d rather be painting. I have been a full time artist since 2002.

Your palette is very distinct, what inspires it?

I use a lot of mint greens, blues and pinks. Living in a colorful city such as New Orleans has a lot of influence on my palette. It’s bright, tropical and lush. I pick up on it. I want people to be happy when they look at my paintings.

You describe your aesthetic as a retro. What draws you to the past and what compels you to contemporize it for today’s audience?

The past is nostalgic for everyone. I love taking an old photo and painting it with a present day twist. My portraits always remind the audience of someone they know or once knew.

Hayley Gaberlavage

Hayley Gaberlavage

 

How did you end up in New Orleans?

I was living in New York Cityand missed living in the south. I’m a true southern girl at heart.

What is your favorite spot in New Orleans and why?

At the moment, my favorite spot in New Orleans is Cane & Table. I feel like I’ve traveled back in time a hundred and fifty years. It’s quintessential New Orleans. The patio will make you feel like you’re in Europe. But that’s one of the reasons I love New Orleans. There are a thousand places that will transport you to a city in Europe. It’s extremely romantic.

Hayley Gaberlavage

I cannot thank you enough for donating one of your pieces to the Magic in Melpomenia IX fundraiser on May 8th.  As you know the goal of Felicity Redevelopment, Inc. is the revitalization of the lower St. Charles Avenue, Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, Calliope Street, and Jackson Avenue.  Once a vital part of New Orleans life, the area contains splendid residential and commercial buildings that are waiting to be reclaimed and provide housing and commercial space for the re-population of the neighborhood.  What specifically attracted you to this project?

 What attracted me to this project is my love for the Lower Garden District.  I’ve lived in this area the entire 5 years that I’ve lived in NOLA.  My husband and I just bought a house to renovate on Jackson Avenue as well.  Any way I can contribute to the revitalization of my neighborhood, I will do it.  I love architecture and I love seeing buildings and houses preserved to it’s original.   

 

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 
Interview: Kim Starr Wise Florals

Interview: Kim Starr Wise Florals

Kim Starr Wise Florals

 

Kim Starr Wise is no stranger to the ALH blog. Her amazing floral designs are featured in one of our most popular posts of all times, a swamp inspired photo shoot she did with Mrs. Vintage and P.S. Creative. In running one of the most amazing and modern floral shops in New Orleans she’s quickly become known as the go-to lady for inspiring and beautiful arrangements. Most recently, she’s worked on big Superbowl events, Tales of the Cocktail, and the wedding of celeb Lake Bell at the Marigny Opera House here in NOLA. So of course I jumped at the chance to scope out how Kim works her magic. What I found was a great space in Uptown that serves as her home and work studio. The old building is filled to the brim with vases, shelves of ribbon and, of course, blooms of every shade and fragrance. Kim’s creativity thrives on the challenge of creating something unique, while using natural and unusual materials (I spotted vases wrapped in leather belts at one point!). Her team also supplies linens and can help create, or work with,  the overall feel of any event.  They’ve even designed some ‘veggie jewelry’ for a photo shoot of Poppy Tooker by Dark Roux.  I knew I’d found a kindred decorating spirit when she showed me the old Book of Beatles she’d found in NYC complete with paintings of the beutiful bugs on half its pages. I nearly died when she told me she was ripping them out to frame them all. A woman after my own heart, indeed.

Kim Starr Wise Florals

Kim Starr Wise Florals
You’ve become one of the ladies to know here in NOLA when it comes to floral needs for weddings and events. How’d you get your start?

I like to tell people I have green blood!  I have great aunts and uncles who had rose farms and flowers in Ohio. My father is a landscaper and my mom worked in a florist when I was a little girl.  So it really came naturally to me.  I started working in the floral department in high school and when I was in college worked in one of the oldest flower shops in NYC (three generations owned).  I moved around to a few different shops, honing my craft and ended up working in wholesale market on 28th Street in New York. That is where I was able to really grasp how amazing the industry is – there’s so much interesting product to work with –  and I met all the large event designers in New York like David Beahm, Preston Bailey, David Tutera and had the opportunity to work with them as a designer.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
Creating the look…  sitting with my client and dreaming up the possibilities.  I love it when there are stars in their eyes and a beaming smile follows. If they’re excited, I’m excited.

You spend your days making everything looks stylish and beautiful. Can you describe your own personal style for us?
I like a mixture of modern and vintage.  My home is a large 1000 sq ft loft like space that is very open.  I have interesting art on the walls that range from pictures of flowers to graffiti prints.  And I collect vintage “head vases”- they are containers women would receive with a plant or small nosegay of flowers in them.  My style overall is still pretty Urban… my wardrobe is over 50% black.  : )

Kim Starr Wise Florals

Kim Starr Wise Florals
What about your work style? Do you work best with a clean and sparse space? Or are you better with loads of inspiration pieces pilled around you?
I am much better with loads of inspiration.  I often get stuck creatively and I’ll walk around Magazine Street, going in and out of the antique shops and stores.  I thrive on visual stimulation.

What advice would you offer other women looking to start their own business?
Make sure you have a niche market.  Hone your craft.  Learn your target industry inside and out.  Know your competition and always pay attention to up and coming competitors.  Be prepared to work harder that you’ve ever worked in your life.  Be kind and respect your employees. Value your peers.  Be willing to adapt and change.  BE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO!!

If you didn’t live in New Orleans, where would you live?
In my heart of hearts, Brooklyn, New York.  I’d like to have dual residency, please!  And then add Europe to the list. (Triple residency!)

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued. 
Interview: Mignon Faget

Interview: Mignon Faget

Mignon Faget

 

Last week Hattie, Julia and I were treated to a most inspiring peek inside the creative world of Mignon Faget. Since I can remember, my grandmother, aunts, mother and just about every New Orleans lady I can recall has worn, adored and raved about Mignon Faget’s jewelry and home designs. A New Orleans legend, Mignon got her start in her native NOLA back in 1969 with the launch of her first ready-to-wear collection. Inspired by nature and architecture, her designs have gained recognition across the country. As a woman entrepreneur, Mignon paved the way for creative ladies here in the Crescent City. Also, turns out she was the first person ever to advertise on streetcars on the St. Charles line!

After touring her space (OMG her office!) and trying on some of her and her son’s designs we sat down with Mignon to get the scoop on what inspires her. Enjoy!

 

Mignon Faget


You’ve become such an iconic style, especially in New Orleans. How do you stay inspired each day?

I stay tuned to things of interest and things of concern and things of beauty.

As you know, we like to feature woman-owned businesses on A Little Happy. As a woman who runs her own show, what advice would you offer to other women entrepreneurs?

Invent an idea based on what you love to do or touch or hear.

Can you describe your style for us?

Simplicity and quality elegance and always some whimsy!

 

This post originally appeared on A-Little-Happy.com, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.