“From early on, I didn’t feel like I belonged,” said Kay Charbonnet of her store, Kay’s, which just moved from a more conservative part of Magazine street near Jefferson to the edgier French Quarter earlier this year. “Uptown, were I was located, was pretty homogeneous - not only, but definitely in its whiteness and also its lack of openness to the kind of pieces I was selling.”
Kay prides herself on her curated street couture and edgy lifestyle pieces.
That quote may seem contradictory to her personality. If you know Kay, or have seen her on Instagram, then you know her bold, confident style and outspoken opinions. Feeling like she “didn’t belong” doesn’t make sense to those who know her.
“Here, people are on the hunt for Gardenia scented candles, or another piko dress and rabbit fur vest. Not hating on that. It’s just not my vibe.”
Street closures and construction in 2015 didn’t help either. But, that’s when Kay started to realize that the Magazine street location wouldn’t be forever. There was something else out there for her. While she felt like she was swimming against the stream of the Magazine Street homogeneity, she learned that the Lululemon shoppers weren’t Kay’s clientele, but the tourists who ventured that far Uptown became instant fans. Soon she acquired clients from all over the country.
“That’s when I started thinking about the French Quarter,” added Kay. “The neighbors are excited about a more art-directed and inspired boutique, and the tourists - well, they step off the plane hoping to experience something new. So, it was a no brainer.”