Black Swamp Jewelry

While wooden jewelry often brings to mind stacked bangles that compliment a bohemian look, Black Swamp is a new jewelry line that brings a more sophisticated aesthetic. Eutawville, South Carolina based furniture designer Katie Thompson takes scraps, or off-cuts, from her handcrafted wood works to create each piece of jewelry. The line is eco-friendly and affordable, with prices ranging from $15 to $50. Pick up your new favorite necklace, bracelet, or earrings via Black Swamp’s online shop. 

“No two pieces are exactly alike. Using a combination of fine craftsmanship and other high quality metal materials I am able to create a line of jewelry that transcends a combination of styles and natural elements.” -Katie Thompson, creator of Black Swamp

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La Elle Dee Da

I discovered Elle’s jewelry at a Branch Out  trunk show put on back in February. I purchased a pair so I can attest to how great these are in person.  Needless to say I was pleased when I stumbled upon her work again! Elle takes vintage glass Mardi Gras beads and repurposes them into earrings. She also sells handmade cake stands and jewelry pedestals from reclaimed vintage plates.

 Mine all mine!

Tell us a little about yourself and the items you create.

I’ve always liked to craft, and have always tried to make things instead of buying them and that includes jewelry. Right now I’m really into making earrings, and the glass beads I get from antique strands of Mardi Gras beads are perfect because they have history. I want to make glass Mardi Gras beads wearable!

Obviously New Orleans plays a big part in your work, especially the vintage Mardi Gras beads. What inspires you the most about this city?

All the crooked lines.

Giant Shell Leafs Giant shell leaf earrings

Any big plans for the future, and where else can readers buy your jewelry?

The best place to see everything I’ve made is Right now my earrings and vintage jewelry pedestals are available at Branch Out on Magazine Street.

What do you do when you aren’t making jewelry?

My wonderful boyfriend and I like to travel when we can. When we’re not out exploring other lands, we’re exploring our own city.

Double-Decker Blue Glass Cube Earrings Double decker blue glass earrings

Define southern style.

To me style is not about high-end expensive purchases, and it’s not about living one certain fabulous unattainable lifestyle. Down here, your style moves at your speed, fits in your budget, and makes sense in your day-to-day life. We don’t really have time or patience for much else. 

New Orleans folks know about style. I think it happens quite naturally. Fashion here has never been about the latest magazine trends. Fashion has always been more individual than that; more inspired. In New Orleans, we have entire sections of our closets devoted to weird costume pieces from the last ten years of Mardi Gras and once in a while we work those items into an outfit quite well, I’d say. 

Life Advice Dice Life advice dice

Once a year we have a city-wide art walk where we re-discover why white linen is so perfect for this city – because August is f*cking hot. and yes, high heels are fabulous, but try rocking them down a hundred year-old herringbone-patterned mortar-less brick sidewalk, not so fab. So our southern fashion has evolved and taken on trends of its own. And THAT is truly fabulous.

Perfectly Square Pedestal Perfectly square pedestal

Show Elle some love by visiting her Etsy shop!

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Secondhand Style

I’m no stranger to second hand stores and I prefer them to shopping at the mall. It sure beats circling for a parking spot, dealing with large crowds, not to mention the prices are much, much cheaper and buying used is easier on the environment.  The trick is to purchase items that don’t scream “thrift store”. Look for pieces that are well made, free of stains, holes, and aren’t overly faded. It’s also good to look for classic pieces or items that aren’t hideously out of style.

 My entire outfit here was purchased second hand minus the shoes.

I decided there’s a reason big hair is so well, big in the south. When the humidity is this high my hair is a frizzy, massive mess. Pardon half my head missing. I was making a ridiculous “hot and bright outside” face. Check out those awesome mosquito bites on my legs while you’re at it. Sexy!

I don’t wear t-shirts that often but this one has some cute details. No idea what the “12” is for but I like it. Oh yea, it could mean 12 more days ’till I bring my adopted bundle of joy home. And by bundle of joy I mean a greyhound named Nadia. Y’all have no idea how excited I am!
I acquired these two onyx and silver rings when I lived in Arizona. The one on the right is a poison ring. I once tried filling it with glitter and it leaked glitter onto everything. 
I decided I needed a little somethin’ somethin’ to tie the gold stitching on the tee and the sparkly gold shoes together. Then I remembered this gold sequin headband I purchased. I think I have a large head because this thing slides off my head, even with the assistance of bobby pins.
All purchased at Buffalo Exchange
T-shirt:  J. Crew
Skirt:  Gap
Shoes:  Melissa Campana via Nordstrom Rack
Rings:  vintage
Headband: new, no brand

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Slow Southern News

  • Need sunglasses? Want a free Jazz Fest ticket? Purchase a pair of Maui Jim sunnies from St. Charles Vision and score a free ticket to the fest.

  • Save 15% off any item from now until May 15th for Baboo Babeau and Trapped in Time Designs.  Just enter “slow southern style” during checkout in the comments section and you will be reimbursed.
  • The New Orleans Craft Mafia is celebrating Earth Day by hosting a t-shirt recycling class at the uptown Whole Foods on Thursday, April 22nd. Members of the mafia (sorry couldn’t resist) will be on hand to hawk their homemade wares and teach you how to turn your old t-shirts into reusable bags.   The demo will be from 1pm-6pm and shopping starts at 11:00am. 
  • In celebration of 12 years in business Ah-ha is offering 12% off your total purchase.
  • Come out and support your favorite Magazine St. businesses on Thursday, April 29th at Shop Fest. Stores will stay open until 9:00pm and feature  

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Show & Tell

Went to dinner and the Sip event at La Thai last night. Branch Out, a cute little eco-friendly shop in the Lower Garden District, hosted a trunk show. I purchased these sweet little dangle earrings made out of antique Mardi Gras beads. The girls from Branch Out told me Laura D’Arcangelo, the designer, found a stash of the beads in her grandmother’s attic and decided to re purpose them into something a bit more wearable. I love the concept of taking a little piece of New Orleans history and reinventing it. 

The pair I bought are milky white, pink and black. The beads are of substantial weight but don’t feel heavy on my ear lobe and the handiwork is really great. All too often “handmade jewelry” equates amateurs churning out shoddy craftsmanship but these are really well made. At $12 a pair they would make a great gift or a guilt free treat for yourself.
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Festival Fun

Whether you are still seeking that perfect Christmas gift or just a little pick me up for yourself don’t miss the Freret Market this Saturday, December 12th from 12:00-5:00pm.  The market started in 2007 as an effort to revitalize the once bustling Freret St. and is usually held the 1st Saturday of each month. However since the holiday season is upon us there are two markets in December and I attended the first one this past Saturday.  The market features lots of handcrafted items, live music, food and pet adoptions. It is a really fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, support local artists, and interact with your neighbors.

Let’s get to the goodies, shall we?

Mallory of Miss Malaprop was hawking her wares as well as other eco friendly artisans. I picked up this hilarious Frantic Meerkat magnet which is also available online.

I picked up this roll on perfume balm from Manor Hall Soap Company. It is small enough to throw in your bag so you can refresh throughout the day. I bought the cedarwood and blackberry with pink grapefruit. The perfume is made with all natural ingredients but the scent lasts longer than other non chemical perfumes that I’ve tried.
 Have you ever seen the list of chemical crap and carcinogens that goes into most fragrances? It is scary stuff that you are spraying on your skin.

Somehow, somewhere, I picked up a nasty, expensive little habit- fancy soap. I believe Mallory started my obsession when I purchased a locally made Sweet Olive Soapworks bar over the summer. Thanks a lot, Mallory. 😛
  I purchased this monster bar for only $8 from Bayou Soap Company and was told it will last three weeks. The smell is divine and those green basil bits made this soap maker the best at the market IMO.

My grand daddy of a purchase was this onyx and sterling silver ring. In case you didn’t notice the large snake tattoo in some of my pictures my affinity for snakes is undeniable. I collect all sorts of snake jewelry but it  has to be high quality otherwise you cross into tacky territory. I’m a sucker for an oversized ring so I couldn’t say no to this one! I purchased this from Golden Wagon, who usually vends at the French Market.

I stopped celebrating Christmas some time ago** but that doesn’t mean I can get away with leaving mom empty handed. This year I decided to go for an oyster theme and bought her a painted oyster shell ornament and an oyster spoon rest. Sadly I didn’t get the name of either of these vendors.

** I don’t advocate buying crap in a desperate attempt to appease friends, family, or coworkers during this “giving” time of year. You’ll never catch me running out to buy somebody a pack of socks because that is what they need. What kind of gift is that?
That said I fully get behind thoughtful tokens of appreciation and what better way to state “This made me think of you” with a handmade treasure.
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Slow Southern News

  • Saints fever is translating into big t-shirt sales atNew Orleans retailers.
  • The Krewe of Muses is hosting a holiday market on Thursday, December 3rd from 5:30pm-8:30pm at Kingsley House. There will be a bevy of vendors offering up hats, jewelry, t-shirts, scarves, ties and more. Admission is $20 which includes parking, light food and wine. 
  • The Freret Market is this Saturday, December 5th from noon-5:00pm. The market offers homegrown food, fashion, and music every month.
  • If you are looking for something more low key  head toFlanagan’s Pub for Miss Malaprop’s handcrafted shopping party Thursday, December 3rd from 6:00pm-9:00pm. Mallory will be showcasing several crafter’s work with a focus on environmentally friendly products.

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Clean out your closet, not your wallet

I am a veteran at selling and buying clothing at resale stores. I first discovered secondhand stores in college and I’ve been an avid shopper ever since. The difference between second hand and thrift store is selection, pricing, and atmosphere. Instead of having to spend hours sifting through racks of ratty, old items someone has done the work for you. It is also nice to walk into a store that is clean with sorted and sized racks.

 Get the look for less

 Just like the mall there is a wide variety of secondhand stores that cater to a wide variety of customers. There are shops out there that specialize in every type of clothing, from designer to vintage, career wear to casual.  The beauty of this system is that you can get rid of clothes you don’t wear and turn them into cash or new items that will actually see the light of day. Read on for my tips on how to successfully get those clothes out of your closet and into a store.

1. Know the store

 Not all second hand stores are the same and one shop’s top seller is someone else’s sale rack. It is a good idea to drop by the store and take a gander at the racks or call and ask  what they are looking for. If you have a stack of office appropriate suits one store might say no thanks but another might take them all. Don’t be discouraged, especially if you have several secondhand shops in your area.

 Rain boots display

2.  Clean and presentable
You are presenting your items for someone to buy. Make sure you have recently laundered them ( last year doesn’t count) and an iron never hurt anything. If you have handbags make sure to clean up the insides especially if your makeup exploded. Items with stains, holes, extremely faded or pilly will never make the cut so don’t bother bringing in that blouse with the ketchup stain down the front.

3. Cash, clothes, and cars
Sure it sounds like a rap video but that isn’t my point. Clothes and cars are similar in that they lose value once you drive them off the lot. When people buy used clothing they are looking for a bargain. Just because you paid $200 for that pair of Rock & Republic jeans doesn’t mean the next buyer wants to! Even if you’ve only worn  (or never wore) that cocktail dress from last year’s holiday party for a few hours it makes it now used.

Patent leather driving moccasins, $8 at Plato’s Closet

4. Don’t expect miracles
 If you aren’t wearing it chances are no one else is either.  Those gaucho pants from 5 years ago? Yea everyone hates them and admit it you do too. That said buyers really do want your closet in their inventory! Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions so you can figure out what is selling for them. Someone’s old shirt could be your amazing vintage rock tee find.

5. Where does that percentage go?
Don’t be surprised when the shop takes a chunk of the profits. That money goes towards paying employees, the light bill, taxes, advertising, rent etc…. If you want more money either A. try to return the item or B. take a chance on Ebay or Craigslist.

6. Know the difference
 You have two choices when it comes to selling your clothes. Consignment shops typically give you 40-50% cash since you don’t get your money until the piece sells. It really isn’t any sweat off their back- you just take the piece back if it doesn’t sell but your piece could sit in the store for months. A buy/sell/trade offers 30-40% in cash but you get your money that day. Therefore if your clothing doesn’t sell at full price (or not at all) then they lose money on that item. Don’t be surprised when these types of stores charge less for the same item that a consignment shop would charge more for. Some people prefer to wait it out while others just want to get the cash up front.  However almost  all stores offer 50% store credit so it is usually smart to take the store credit.

7. The more current the better
So you bought into that new acid wash denim trend and you are now questioning your sanity? Bring it in. The younger the trend the more covetable it is. Hate those big exposed zippers? Someone else will love it. Can’t walk in those thigh high boots? Let someone else try.  Trust me.

8. Expensive doesn’t mean better 
 We all love designer pieces but they still have to be cute. Just because it says “Prada” across the chest doesn’t mean it is desirable! Most people would prefer something moderately priced with a modern cut vs. something outdated just because it was expensive.

Rhinestone snake bracelet, $58 price tag still attached got it for $20

9. It is good for the environment
Selling and buying used goods has a myriad of benefits aside from padding your wallet. Selling your clothing keeps things out of  landfills and buying has an even bigger impact because you are not contributing to the manufacturing of new items. For example many vegetarians feel okay buying used leather goods since they aren’t directly supporting the leather industry.

10. Great! Where can I unload my goodies?
Check out my post on buying secondhand in the New orleans area or feel free to do some name dropping in the comments w/ your favorite places to shop. I’m including my top 4 places in the 504.

Shops to try:

Buffalo Exchange*
Funky Monkey
Plato’s Closet*
Swap Boutique

*indicates multiple locations

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Slow Southern News

  • Ruby is giving away a free gift with any purchase now through November 30 for all of their Facebook fans. Also stop by tonight for Hammond’s Starry November night from 5pm-10pm. There will be food, cocktails, music and of course shopping! Pick up a game day tee or a great pair of jeans from their latest shipment of James, Ringspun, Blaque Label and Rock Revival.
  • Tomato is opening their second store in Baton Rouge this weekend. Visit them 2353 Perkins Road in the Southdowns Village. Store hours are Monday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm.

  • Buffalo Exchange is having its annual Coats for Cubs drive. From now until April 22 drop off your unwanted fur coats to your local Buffalo Exchange and they will be shipped to the Humane Society of the United States for use in rehabilitating wildlife. The fur is used as bedding to comfort injured or orphaned wildlife and since 2006 Buffalo has collected 3,885 furs for Coats for Cubs.

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Now that I’ve fully recovered from Halloween festivities I can show y’all our costumes. We were Mayan king and queen, inspired by these images I found with a little Googling.
The first picture was the most prominent inspiration in terms of color and style. I put many hours into hand sewing these and was really pleased with the way they turned out. The best part is 80% of the costumes are recycled materials.

His: The leopard print on his outfit was a women’s furry jacket. I lopped off the sleeves and turned them into boot covers and the centerpiece of his skirt/loincloth. The leggings underneath are women’s plus sized lounge pants that I took in so they were fitted. The shirt is an American Apparel nude tank top. I added leopard print patches on the back and red tail feathers, which you can’t see here. The chest piece is a women’s extra small beaded tank top. I hand sewed colorful wooden beads and then made pieces of leaf shaped fabric I found at the thrift store. His armbands are from a women’s leopard print sweater that I lopped off and the blue fringe is actually place mats.

Top of a wicker laundry basket that I made into a shield.

Mine: The skirt is a leopard print pillowcase with blue leggings underneath that I already owned. The skirt has a lot going on. All of the gold sequins was a Banana Republic shrug (trust me it was hideous) that I used for the trim of the skirt and the main front fringe. I also used the same blue placemats for pieces of this. The back (not pictured) also had black feathers on the bum. The top was purchased as is and I didn’t have to do much to it. I added the black feathers to each shoulder, took in the sides and added green fringe to the back. The shoes are old flip flops decorated with green fabric and I took the gold sleeves from the shrug and made foot covers with them.

All clothing items are from Pelican thrift store and Buffalo Exchange. Wigs and eye makeup are from Fifi Mahony’s, eyelashes from Buffalo Exchange and all other makeup from Uptown Costume & Dancewear.

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