I’m not sure who came up with the idea that you can’t mix business with pleasure, but in our case that couldn’t be further from the truth. We had a great time vending at the Essence Festival 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year’s event hosted 3 days of empowerment, inspiration, and music! Artists like Diana Ross, CeCe Winans, Monica, and so many more hit the stage to perform their songs. It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of a legacy that shares their platform with the community and business owners in a meaningful way.

On Wednesday June 28, 2017 we traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana from Houston, Texas to get ready for the Essence Festival. Ellana Turner was born and raised in NOLA and has attended the Essence Festival many times for fun. I, on the other hand, was born in H-Town and I have never attended this festival until recently. We were excited to share this experience together (as her personal assistant) as first-time vendors during the event.

On Thursday, we headed to Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to set up our 10×10 booth located in the “Arts & Culture Marketplace.” We made preparations beforehand by staging a mock setup in our studio. It was a great strategy to use, because we knew exactly where to place the fixtures and products in the booth.  

We offered plenty of features by organizing a “Mix & Match Your Style,” portion where our customers could design their own multi-strand necklace; each strand was sorted by length, thickness, and color to make it easier for our customers to see all of their options. In addition to that portion, we had various styles of multi-strand chokers that did not require any effort and could be purchased as a set. We displayed our backdrop with our vibrant bangles, coordinating earrings, and limited quantity pieces that were only available during this event. Throughout the booth, we showcased images of our models flaunting some of our best selling necklaces and hair accessories alongside the actual product.

@Vernonfrancois poses in our Long Ankara/Kente Necklace with three adorable children at Essence Fest!
@queencookie9 poses in our Ankara, Leather & Gold Quartz Statement Necklace.

The festival officially began on Friday morning and ended Sunday evening. It was humbling to meet men and women who appreciated our handmade accessories and described it as “different” and “unique”. We also met our existing clients who already own pieces of our jewelry and boasted that their piece effortlessly grabs the attention of others and entices conversation.

The two gorgeous models that we had at our booth revealed the evidence of those statements by casually walking around the festival in one of best selling pieces, “The Legend.”

I thoroughly enjoyed the styling aspect of this opportunity, because I appreciate fashion and pairing accessories with formal and casual attire. Some of our guests had a specific outfit in mind, that they planned to wear, but was unsure of how to accessorize it with our pieces. That’s when I would swoop in to point out accessories that complemented their features and personal style. It was gratifying to know that a customer walked away confident with their new piece, because I shared my advice with them.

We are grateful for all of the support from our clients and prominent stylists that stopped by our booth to acknowledge the quality of our pieces. We also learned and gained so much from this experience and look forward to returning to the Essence Festival next year.

Owner & Head Designer – Ellana Turner poses in Elegant Ankara/Kente Long Necklace at our booth.