If home is what you make it, Home Malone takes that feeling to heart
It’s a home store that looks like, well, a home. Home Malone is warm, inviting, and unique with locally-made pieces lining the shelves of the shop. Like a kid, you want to touch everything, just to see the details up close.
Pot holders with different New Orleans neighborhoods line the shelf near the checkout. Hand-painted oyster wine glasses line a wall. It’s all reminiscent of something we love about the city.
Owner Kristin Malone talked to us about how she went from making art to opening a store that helps other artists thrive.
How long have you had the location in Mid-City?
“Since September 2016.”
How would you describe Home Malone?
“It is where locals shop local. If we ask you to shop small, we shop small as well. I notice with a lot of local companies, when you go to certain stores, a lot of touristy stores, you have a lot of New Orleans things, but it’s being made overseas. We have so many craftsmen here that are so talented locally, you’ll find them at art markets and you’ll find them popping up, and they’re not getting the business and support they need in order to support the rents that are raising. So it’s just a force to pick up a product and ask the questions, like, ‘This is New Orleans and it’s cute, but is it supporting New Orleans?’ Giving back. We support over 100 Southern artists now, and we are a local store that supports locals and we shop small too. I figured that out when I was doing art markets, our biggest competition was mass-produced items. People would pick up an item and be like, ‘Well I could go get this at this place for this much.’ I didn’t want to bring that into a store where that was the thing I was trying to fight against.”
How did you get into this?
“I started by doing furniture refinishing and I was able to take out all my creative aspects on that, take out the tools and the paints, I was able to head back into a little bit of my art background. Sometimes doing creative work, the hardest part is just getting started and getting your tools and supplies out. I was able to tap into the furniture, which led me to painting art on leftover wooden signs from building and pieces of furniture, and that kind of morphed into a domino effect. So furniture refinishing to rustic painting to wood signs into doing custom home portraits, and then doing markets and doing wholesale, and doing paint parties, which led into doing retail.”
You just expanded, when did you open the Magazine Street location?
“Feb. 7, we opened after the holiday rush here. We could’ve opened during the holiday season, but our customers are our number one focus, so I wanted to make sure I handled everything properly here, and, we were stressing on customer service on either location and we didn’t want to stress the artists too because things handmade take time. We had a great Mardi Gras season. We had a couple of shirts we produced, and that was going crazy for wholesale. That kind of helped our expansion. It was a little daunting to open up a second location, but it was a great season, and some things you have to push through a little bit.”
What’s it like being a part of this neighborhood?
“When I had the lease for Mid-City, I had no plans to really do retail. I was going to have a few things on the shelf, but it was really going to be more of a workshop space, maybe a gallery for myself. It was more time I had spent in here, about five weeks in I was like, Mid-City doesn’t have anything like this. Mid-City was really missing retail stores and a place to find gifts. I really think Mid-City is a very cultural area. It’s where Jazz Fest happens, it’s where a lot of locals have lived and stayed, it’s not too touristy. That’s what made my decision. I opened a couple of weeks before Christmas. When we opened, I don’t know how people found out, but they came and supported, and it was more than I could ever have imagined. So that was when we decided it was going to be mostly retail, so it was a shift. Mid-City has been so wonderful, we have so many repeat customers. When you have great customers, you can’t not give great customer service to good people, and the product speaks for itself. People just love the product and the story behind and knowing that their money is going to be invested locally.”
What’s next for Home Malone?
“Whew! We have the second location, so that’s still kind of fresh for us, it’s still a learning curve with that. I’ve just kind of got to the point where I’ve learned how to do inventory here, and then now we did a mini location on the Northshore, so trying to figure out how to float inventory back and forth. And understanding that Magazine Street doesn’t buy the same inventory that Mid-City buys, so just kind of testing out the waters. Our wholesale has grown a whole lot. Right now, we’re just fine-tuning that, continuing our level of customer service and quality products and making sure we check in with people and that everyone is happy. Our goal for the next year is to fine-tune and become better.”