Artist and Entrepreneur Opens Second Retail Shop
NEW ORLEANS – The Carnival behemoth that’s the Krewe of Endymion passes in front of Kristin Malone’s Home Malone Mid-City shop once a year. But now, Malone is getting a glimpse of what it’s like to run a business on an Uptown parade route, teeming with revelers throughout most of Mardi Gras. In early February, Malone opened a Home Malone shop on 4610 Magazine Street, two blocks from Napoleon Avenue.
Although the new location is closed during the parades, foot traffic in the area is heavier than usual, and passerby have likely noticed the shop. It’s petite but hard to miss.
Situated in a marigold shotgun home with Kelly green shutters, Home Malone is decorated with colorful papier-mâché flowers and a cheerful, king cake-inspired door wreath. Greenery leads to the shop’s entrance.
Inside, a glistening chandelier and modern light fixtures dangle from a high ceiling, ornamented with crown moulding and medallions. Wood shelving displays topped with handmade knick-knacks line the ivory walls. A small circular table in the center of the room is covered with Mardi Gras decorations, including 610 Stomper figurines.
Both Home Malone locations carry jewelry, home accessories, aromatic bath soaps and candles, distressed wooden signs, original artwork, kitchenware, and kid’s books and clothing, among other one-of-a-kind items. The business owner describes her offerings as “local lagniappe.”
Malone also hosts arts and crafts workshops for her customers, including the popular #PaintYourNOLA paint parties.
The products in her Uptown location are carefully arranged and well-thought-out, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who knows Malone.
“I'm very intentional with everything I do with Home Malone. Nothing's really a flash in the pan,” she said. “Everything has to be either the right product, the right time, or the right quality – the right everything.”
After graduating from the University of New Orleans with a degree in business management, Malone revisited her lifelong love for art. She converted her carport into an art studio and, in 2011, formed Home Malone as a part-time hobby. Her first sale was a refinished chair sold through Craigslist.
Although she was also pursuing a full-time career in industrial sales at the time, Malone began selling refinished furniture and hand-painted signs from within a furniture shop on Magazine Street, and wholesaling her products to local retailers like Detour NOLA and Fleurty Girl. Meanwhile, she received an increase in requests for custom work.
When walking through the Palmer Park art market one morning, Malone realized that she was ready to cut back on her work hours and make Home Malone a full-time endeavor.
“I had a successful industrial sales career, but at the end of the day if it's not what you love, it's not worth it,” she said.
In the months following that revelation, Malone set up booths in art markets, moved into a new studio space, and created a mural for the grand opening on Le Meridien hotel in downtown. She also hosted her first arts and crafts workshop.
After opening her Mid-City location in 2016 (629 N Carrollton Avenue), Malone took time to get settled, hire employees and local artists, and learn about the retail business. Also, nearly a year later, she became a new mom.
Malone wasn’t “actively pursuing” a second store, but in November of 2018, when a friend alerted her of the available space on Magazine Street, she immediately checked it out and signed a lease two days later.
“It was very Home Malone – a New Orleans home that’s cute and quaint,” she said. “The whole purpose of Home Malone is that when you shop here you feel at home. You need to feel welcome.”
In addition to studying business and garnering sales experience, Malone picked up business skills from her parents. Her mother ran a retail shop and her father was an entrepreneur.
“The business aspect and the creative aspect run side by side, at least in our family,” said Malone. “For me the joy of creating is also the joy of selling.”
Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur is the associate news editor of Biz New Orleans.