Home Malone: An Owner’s Journey from Artist to Full-Blown Retail

If one neighborhood store serving one neighborhood is a good thing, two of the same store serving two neighborhoods is even better. Such is the case with Home Malone, whose locations in Mid-City (629 North Carrollton) and Uptown (4610 Magazine) offer area residents handmade art and gifts, with an emphasis on functional décor.

“I’ve always been an artsy person, said founder, owner and designer Kristen Malone. “From refinishing furniture in my carport in Lakeview, I went on to doing painting on boards, which I sold through Etsy. This went well enough that I quit my job, did some art markets, and did some paint parties.”

One of the paint parties took place at a clothing store in Mid-City; it succeeded to the point that Malone followed up later to see about scheduling a second event. When the owner told her that the store was moving, Malone inquired about the lease for the location.

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“The lease was reasonable, so I decided to take it,” she recalled. “I originally envisioned it as a paint party and studio space. And I added a few items to sell during the paint parties, mostly to help pay the electric bill.”

This proved to be a game-changing idea: at a pre-Christmas paint party, so many items were purchased that Malone decided to move into what she described as “accidental full-blown retail.”

The transition from artist to businessperson was easier than one might guess. Malone has a degree in management from the University of New Orleans and had worked in industrial sales.

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“I’ve always been left- and right-brained, and always been interested in the entire process,” she said. “I have a full front-to-back love of business.”

Malone opened the Carrollton location six weeks before Christmas in 2016 and quickly discovered that “Mid-City is a very local, art-loving area.” Eschewing the typical retail storefront, she decided she “wanted to be in a house with a neighborhood feel to it.”

With its focus on affordable and useful gifts, made by some 200 New Orleans, Louisiana and Southern regional artists and craftspeople, Home Malone has been a major success. Malone opened the Magazine Street store — also in a standalone house in a more residential area — in February 2019. She also maintains a warehouse, from which she supplies about 100 retailers nationwide.

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The business is now up to 15 employees.

“We are hiring more people, and we mostly hire people who have been customers,” said Malone. “They came into the store and saw the vision, so there’s not a lot of onboarding required — they already get it.”

Malone still produces many items that are displayed in the store. She said at this point, her biggest challenge is “finding the time to do everything I love. Being creative takes time away from the business and working on the business takes time away from being creative.”
To address this, her vision for the future is to “do more with less. I want to offer fewer items, focus more on quality over quantity. For the national market, I want to focus on items with broad appeal but that still have that New Orleans essence.”

Home Malone 629 N. Carrollton Ave & 4610 Magazine St.
(504) 324-8352 // homemalonenola.com // facebook.com/homemalonenola/ // @homemalonenola

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