Holiday Time in South Market District with Hattie Sparks
Hattie Sparks is a concept space carrying a carefully curated collection of home décor, clothing, and gifts from the best independent, southern, and local designers. They hand-select a unique range of products to fit every family’s lifestyle. With their newest location recently opened in the South Market District, Biz caught up with Hattie Collins Moll, the company’s owner and collection curator.
Biz: How did the idea for your business come about?
Hattie Collins Moll: I noticed a gap in the local retail market for a store that represented the wide variety of great design from New Orleans and the South. I was meeting so many talented creators and artists, but couldn't find their products anywhere but Etsy or art markets. I really wanted to give them a platform from which they could launch and/or grow. Along with that, there wasn't much boutique shopping that provided something for everybody, where you could find a great dress along with something cool for your home.
Biz: What is your experience in the field?
Hattie Collins Moll: I've been working since I was 12 years old, with my first job being a Christmas present wrapper at an upscale kitchen store. I think spent all my wages on Beanie Babies. That was followed by waitressing, lots of babysitting and nanny jobs, and later, internships with museums while I studied Art History in college.
It wasn't until after college that I started working retail, beginning at UAL in the French Quarter and then on the opening team for Anthropologie, just after I finished graduate school. Through this hodgepodge of experience, I think retail stuck because of the opportunity it gave me to engage with people, be around beautiful things, learn something new, and help people discover something that makes them happy.
Biz: What can clients expect from the experience with Hattie Sparks?
Hattie: Our goal at the store is for everyone to leave feeling happy, regardless of if they bought something or not. I've found that if a client's experience is positive from the moment they walk through the door until the second they leave, that they're likely to return, and to send their friends!
Biz: How did you decide on your location?
Hattie: I opened our first location right off of Maple Street uptown because I really loved the area after spending so much time over there during grad school. I liked the neighborhood and the local clientele it brought us. But, when the opportunity to open a location in the new South Market District arose, I couldn't pass it up. As the business grew, our customer base also grew and consisted primarily of young professionals working in the CBD. The chance to be essentially next door to them, as well as have more access to tourist foot traffic was one I had to take.
Biz: What have been the biggest challenges in starting your business? What are your current challenges?
Hattie: When I started, the biggest challenge was learning how to navigate things solo and to juggle all the responsibilities that came with owning my own business. Thankfully, now I have great business partners and managers that help with a growing list of tasks.
The current challenges are figuring out the sales patterns and customer demands for this location as compared with the old location. There are different "busy" days and peak hours, changes in what people are buying and not buying, and trying to appeal to an even wider range of customers while still maintaining our price point and aesthetic.
Biz: What is your location's square footage?
Hattie: 1,430 square-feet
Biz: How do you market yourself and compete with other businesses in your area? How do you keep your business fresh?
Hattie: We rely heavily on word of mouth and social media. Our customers are our best advertisement! We try to market ourselves as a one-stop-shop where people can find unique and thoughtfully chosen items.
With the prevalence of boutique shopping in New Orleans, it is hard to have pieces that nobody else has, but we do our best to keep our point of view really consistent and commit to pieces and designers that we believe in.
To help keep things fresh and fun, we're starting a series of workshops and seminars this month that will allow customers to come learn something new and spend some time in the shop without it being a shopping-focused event. We're really trying to establish Hattie Sparks as a place where people can not only find really cool things, but can start having really cool experiences as well.
Biz: What’s coming up?
Hattie: We are having a hand-lettering workshop with Lionheart Prints on 12/13, and a holiday storyteller and crafter for a "Mommy & Me Morning Out" on 12/21.
Visit HattieSparks.com to learn more.