By Jeanne D’Arcy, Mid-City Messenger
“You can’t keep a good New Orleanian out of a costume or from glittering,” said Lisette Constantin, co-owner of NOLA Craft Culture. Now in its second year, the shop is nestled in a Mid-City residential neighborhood.
The house where NOLA Craft Culture is located on South Solomon Street just off Canal was owned by the Murphy family, who lived here for many years. Their descendants have come by the shop to visit and recount the history of the house and the family.
Legend has it that a friendly ghost named Regina, dubbed “the glitter Spirit Queen,” still inhabits the house. The owners think she especially loves Carnival time when everyone is busy with the hustle and bustle of festive preparations.
NOLA Craft Culture has become not only the place to find unique decorating elements, but also a community gathering place to work on projects. And most of those have to do with Carnival.
At this time of year, you can usually find Muses working on shoes, King Arthur working on grails, Cleo working on cups, Tucks working on plungers and toilet brushes, Iris working on sunglasses and the Chewbacchus sub-krewe Queer Eye for the Sci Fi, among others. NOLA Craft Culture was also starting to catch on with Zulu, Pandora and Alla. The downstairs workshop is usually hopping, especially during Carnival season. Regina would be happy.
But with the pandemic, NOLA Craft Culture had to close down. Although the retail shop – and of course online – is open, the workshop space and classes had to close down again with the latest order by Gov. Edwards. With parades and marching groups events canceled, krewe members have cut way back on making throws and decorations for their Carnival events.
“Mardi Gras really drives our engine,” says Constantin. “We have definitely taken a hit because of COVID-19 restrictions forcing the cancellation of Carnival and Mardi Gras festivities.” Chewbacchus members had been working on their projects safely outside, but when their parade was canceled their workshops at NOLA Craft Culture also stopped.
Although it has been a leaner year, Constantin and co-owner Nori Pritchard see some bright spots. Halloween was a big sales event, and people bought craft supplies to make holiday decorations. So crafters are still coming for materials. And yes, some Muses are still glittering shoes.
There is a group of Muses friends who have a project they call “Operation Shoe Fairy,” started by rider Alysia Loshbaugh. They are decorating shoes as if there were a Muses Thursday 2021 parade. On that day, they are going to go around and randomly surprise people by handing out those coveted glitter shoes.
Two of NOLA Craft Culture’s three income streams have been negatively affected by the current situation. They no longer can host in-person classes and workshops on site, and they no longer are doing off-site events either. The retail shop is open, but for fewer hours. Of course online ordering goes on as usual.
So although there is definitely no buzz of activity, Constantin says she is hopeful for the future.
“New Orleanians cling to their culture, perhaps even more so in these troubled times,” she said. “We feel very confident that once it’s safe and NOLA Craft Culture can host events again, people will come. We are thankful that our customers have supported us and in spite of no parades, people are still making decorations, and festooning their houses more than usual.”
NOLA Craft Culture
127 S. Solomon St.