The Best New Shop in New Orleans is Inside a Hotel
A little bit of Marfa has landed in New Orleans, with the opening of Freda at the Ace Hotel. “Freda was a pioneer,” says Michael Bisordi, an owner of the Ace Hotels. Bisordi first spotted the teensy shop while visiting Marfa and convinced its owner, Susannah Lipsey, to open a second outpost in his latest property in downtown New Orleans. “[Susannah] is good at exploring, dedicated to digging into New Orleans, and taking it in. It’s interesting to see how she incorporates that into her new locale, through the lens of Marfa,” he adds. If it seems like an unlikely match, it’s worth noting that Ace Hotels have historically chosen not-obvious retail partners, like Opening Ceremony and Project No. 8 in New York CIty.
Lipsey, a Texas native who at one point lived in New York City and worked for the fashion designer Jill Stuart, didn’t have plans to expand her Marfa store. In fact, she only opened the first Freda, four years ago, because “I was turning 30 and freaking out,” she says. “I felt I needed to start something of my own.” But that shop quickly gained a cult following among locals and visitors, as it gave them a place to buy things one wouldn’t expect to find in a town of under 2,000 people (No. 6 clogs and Pamela Love jewelry) as well as products, ranging from apothecary items to works of art, made by locals.
In New Orleans, Lipsey got a lot more room to work with—a relatively mammoth 800 square feet, versus just 200 in Marfa—and called in Jamey and Constance Garza of Garza Marfa to collaborate on the layout of the space, as well as the fixtures and furniture. Some of it, like the big center table, was inspired by the minimalist artist Donald Judd (who originally put Marfa on the map when he established the Chinati Foundation there 30 years ago) and much of it is made from cypress, the state tree of Louisiana. The shop also incorporates some Art Deco elements, like the shape of the clothing racks, as the building it’s in dates to that era.
Products were sourced from small business or individuals, from Marfa, New Orleans and elsewhere, many of whom make these pieces as a side hustle. There are throw pillows by Pieces and Patterns, a company founded by local architect Jennifer Rowe; as well as jewelry by Earth Reverie, whose owner/designer, Mara Gold, is a hostess at the restaurant in the hotel. Brooklyn potter Shino Takeda created a limited edition collection of “crazy, colorful, wild, prints” for the shop. Lipsey has always done well with No. 6 in Marfa; in New Orleans she’s stocking handbags and swimwear. An entire shelving unit is devoted to apothecary items including Marfa Brands soaps, and “Skin and Soul for Freda, “ a scented shea butter developed in collaboration with Suzi Gruschkus, the owner of the Well, a wellness center in Marfa
When Lipsey was figuring out the first Freda, she recalled wanting to “fill it with
with hand-crafted, beautifully made items by people I know and love.” With Freda NOLA, she’s well on her way to doing the same.
New Orleans Meets Marfa
The shop was designed in collaboration with Garza Marfa, who made all of the furniture and fixtures.
Sign of The Times
The Freda window lettering was hand painted by locally based Mystic Blue Signs in gold foil. Underneath are headpieces by Cult Gaia and Wilhelm.
Rose of Jericho plants and Eliza Gran Moroccan pom pom hats.
Hand-dyed and woven Cave Collective necklaces, Annie Costello Brown earrings, and Clyde hat.
Racks of Clothing
The store stocks a mix of independent designer clothing, swimwear, and apothecary items.
Objects of Affection
Carefully chosen art objects, stationary, ceramics, and other objects are displayed on a center table.
Center of Attention
The large table in the middle, designed and made by Garza Marfa, is a nod to Donald Judd.
Wall hangings were created by a local artist; Constance Garza made the textile hanging in the arched doorway on the right.
A Garza Marfa chair upholstered in fabric, a departure from their usual saddle leather designs.
Something For Everyone
Some of the other trinkets sold in the shop include pestemals by Loomed Nola, Dana Haim pom pom key chains, Em Gift ceramic cups, Hamish Robertson cards, Fredericks & Mae tinsel keychains, Animal Handmade leather goods, and silk sleep masks by Strathcona Stockings.
The Woman Behind It All
Owner Susannah Lipsey was asked to open Freda at the Ace after the hotel owners visited her tiny shop in Marfa, TX.
Home in a Hotel
A view of the shop, under the Ace Hotel, from the street.
A Curated Pharmacy
David Scheid Stained glass pieces sit above a variety of organic and independently made apothecary items, chosen with hotel guests in mind.