Local Jewelry Designer Launches a Mobile Boutique, Made of Mirrors
NEW ORLEANS – If you were passing through the Lower Garden District the Saturday before Christmas, there’s a good chance you noticed the party taking place near the intersection of Magazine Street and Jackson Avenue. After all, it was nearly impossible to miss, thanks to a cluster of silver mylar balloons, a band playing live music, and – most of all – a tiny house made of mirrors, glimmering beneath the afternoon sun.
Local jewelry designer Ashley Porter was celebrating the launch of her second Porter Lyons boutique – a mobile, 160-square foot tiny house, with an exterior made of almost entirely of mirrors. The small but bright interior showcases both high-end and casual, wearable works of art.
The shop, called the PL Mirror House, is currently located on 2230 Magazine Street (across from Stein’s Deli and District Donuts).
Porter came up with the idea and the design of the house, and worked with local craftsmen during the construction process, to make her project come to fruition.
“I wanted to create a piece of beautiful art, and mix my design skills in interiors, with my design skills for products and jewelry,” she said, while taking a brief break from mingling with her guests. “It's kind of like a little jewelry box, if you will.”
Porter also likes being able to move her business from one location to the next – which will include stops at major festivals and possibly Mardi Gras hotspots.
“I didn't want to invest in a stationary property that I didn't own,” Porter said, adding
that the PL Mirror house gives her the “flexibility” to try out different markets.
Porter Lyons launched in 2012 as an exotic leather skin belt line, sourced and manufactured in Louisiana, but has since evolved into an accessory and jewelry lifestyle brand. The company’s flagship store opened in October of 2016, on 631 Toulouse Street in the French Quarter.
The designer’s collections are largely inspired by her family’s heritage in New Orleans, which dates back to the early 1860s. The concept for her latest line – the Pharmacy collection – is based on the pharmacy her ancestors owned on Camp Street.
Pieces from that collection include the potion bottle necklace, made of African turquoise; the 14-karat gold Cypress poison ring with diamonds; and the moonstone drop earrings (featured below, from left to right).
“Porter Lyons is built on three tags: culture, care, create. So with every collection, I like to highlight a different aspect of culture, and then with that collection, I like to give part of the proceeds back to a cause that fundamentally protects that inspiration's identity,” she explained, noting that she’s donated proceeds to the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, among other organizations.
“The Mirror House reflects everything that's around it, and so it's a preservation of everything that's around it – and New Orleans, in and of itself,” said Porter.
But the impression it makes upon her customers and passerby is also important.
“I hope it adds beauty to their day,” she said. “I just want people to look at it, and feel happy and good.”
By Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur, Biz New Orleans associate news editor