And Her Animal Jewelry
Melissa Beese’s style includes jewelry with a special meaning to her. She always wears four silver chains around her neck, each a different length, with a small Mignon Faget charm. Each charm has a special meaning.
Melissa Beese never has to worry about what jewelry to wear around her neck each day; she always wears the same thing. “The adornment around my neck always consists of four silver chains of different lengths, with a single, small Mignon Faget charm on each one,” she says, then quickly adds: “The charms have special meaning – the elephant is in honor of Tristan, 8, our older son, and the hippopotamus is for Finn, 5, our younger one, while the ‘Hive Heart’ is for Stefan, my husband, and the peanut is for my nickname, company and store (Little Pnuts Company and Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe)
Melissa’s signature style makes for a simple life. “My necklaces never come off,” she says. “I even sleep with them on.” There is a special fun element to wearing four distinctly recognizable necklaces. People literally recognize me because of he necklaces. In fact, on our second visit to Trader Joe’s last week a girl in the store smiled and said, ‘I remember you; you are the girl with the fun necklaces.’ I have even had it happen at Jazz Fest, around town and at my oldest son’s soccer games.”
Also part of Melissa’s style statement is her Faget charm bracelet and a wrist cuff from the “Hive” collection to match her necklace. “Stefan continues to buy charms from Mignon each year to add to it,” she adds. “I also have a bracelet from Mignon’s ‘Animal Crackers Collection’ with an elephant, hippo and rhino that I wear from time-to-time. I always smile when I jokingly say the rhino represents my husband.”
While Melissa admits that she was once a “goth” girl” and she did wear black for her photo for this article, her style today is more Stevie Nicks, the singer, songwriter best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac. “I love flowy shawls and cardigans, and since Stefan is from Germany and we visit yearly, we usually also go to Denmark, where I enjoy buying my wardrobe for the year. I think Danish clothes are colorful, whimsical and stylish.”
A native of California, Melissa, came to New Orleans with Stefan in 2009, when he came to produce the Pink Project for Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation. “We fell in love with New Orleans and moved here when Stefan was asked to join the Rehage team as the design producer for the Voodoo Music Experience and Essence festivals,” she says.
Her toy delivery service, Little Pnuts Special Delivery subscription, was an idea that was formulated after the birth of her oldest son, Tristan. “We spent a lot of time in Europe and always brought back amazing toys for him,” she says. “We realized that the toys we found in Europe far exceeded the quality of toys found here. Over time, people were asking us to bring back toys for their children and everywhere we went we would be complimented on the toys hanging on car seats or strollers and the toys Tristan would play with. We experienced the same when Finn came along. I soon realized there was a demand for these types of toys.”
The subscription delivery industry was just starting up at this time and Melissa loved the business model. “It was something I could do from home where I could also continue to raise my boys on my time,” she says. “I had learned so much about developmental milestones and which toys were best to help children learn through play due to Tristan’s severed prematurity, that I thought that a toy subscription with this focus would be great. There were no other toy subscription companies on the market and today, four years later, we are still the only toy subscription service.”
Armed with a business card and a landing page for a website she went to the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremburg, Germany, the biggest toy fair in the world, and met with toy brands that were exporting toys to the U.S. “I came home with about 30 brands that were excited to help me get the concept off the ground.” Six months later Little Pnuts was launched. “Our business became a huge success and went international. Our subscribers even wanted to buy additional toys from us in between deliveries.”
Melissa says that the storefront, Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe, was started by accident. “First, we founded Little Pnuts Special Delivery,” she says. “It started small, right out of our house, and eventually we realized we needed to move the entire business to a larger location. In looking for an office we found our store on Harrison Avenue in Lakeview.”
So now it is easy to appreciate why Melissa’s jewelry is so important to her. “Everything about my jewelry has a special meaning to me, and curating toys which help parents provide the tools for their children that promote learning through play throughout each phase of development has demonstrated that if a child learns through play they learn to fall in love with learning.”