Will You Please Return To New Orleans?

Early Beginnings

As I sit here, thinking back to the beginnings of this collection, I cannot deny myself the truth about its origin. 

Many of you know, I began my design career back at my family's French Quarter jewelry business. Until Katrina, I had no interest at all working for them. In fact, I was pretty adamant about not being involved. But when you watch your family lose almost everything, you begin to realize, maybe you can make a positive difference. Instead of thinking of myself, I thought about the greater whole - the well being of the family unit. Maybe, this was an opportunity to show how much of an asset I could be. 

I wanted to help because I wanted to be make myself useful and contribute in any way I could to the rebuilding process. Being that I was only 15 years old, this was the best way I could, at the time, become involved with the workforce to bring New Orleans back to business. 

There is so much more to this story - how I became involved, the real reason I originally did not want to get involved, how I discovered my designing abilities, behind-the-scenes family drama, and ultimately, why I walked away from it all in 2012. As much as I have wanted to keep the whole thing a secret, the truth is, the circumstances under which I founded my company explains clearly who I am as a person, as a designer, and what my brand is really all about. Without a true understanding of my "untold story," I feel as though my audience, my fans, and my customers, are not getting the full impact of what the "spirit of Cristy Cali" is all about. 

So, I decided to do something most people who have a story to tell do - write a book. Yep, I'm going to write a book about it, and I will have a free version available to my most loyal patrons. If you'd like to receive the free version, as soon as its published, sign up here

Birth of a Classic

Anyhow, the collection is also obviously inspired by my fascination with Tiffany & Co, but with a Big Easy twist. As I was working in my family's French Quarter business back in 2006, the people coming into the shop had to either be local or tourist. Since social media was in its infancy, I did marketing the old fashioned way - by talking to people. Each story was so unique, heart breaking, heart warming, and very empowering. Everyone had a story to tell, and they all meant something to me. When people came into the shop, due to the devastating aftermath, having intimate conversations was the norm. As people would tell me their story, whether they were shopping for themselves or a loved one, I would make recommendations based off of the story they told me. 

Too often, I heard stories of New Orleanians displaced, living elsewhere because they could not return. Other times, tourists would say they just want to take a piece of New Orleans home for them to remember their trip. We had so many volunteers and construction workers eager to shop local and stimulate the local economy. And of course, you had locals who were filled with pride and faith that we would make New Orleans stronger, together.

As a locally affected artist , I designed my first "Please Return to New Orleans" piece right after Katrina as a cry to anyone and everyone who found real meaning in that sentence. I was addressing the displaced locals who were homesick or missing New Orleans, while at the same time addressing the wave of visitors who came to visit our broken city and help us rebuild any way they could - even if it was just shopping at a local mom & pop shop, such as the one I was representing. 

Now, thirteen years later, I am relaunching and adding more to this meaningful collection. In 2017, I introduced the small, Oval Please Return to New Orleans Necklace. Today, I am adding the larger, Oval Please Return to New Orleans Necklaces AND the Please Return to New Orleans Disc Ring

Personally, due to my petite size, I enjoy wearing the smaller version. I'm 5'2" roughly 100 pounds and the 16" lays really nicely near my collar bone. I offer both sizes with two different clasp options. The toggle clasp is a fixed length, and the lobster clasp version includes a 2" adjustable extension. The lobster clasp is a great option if you wish to change the length according to what you're wearing. 

The ring is a lovely accent. While it may look delicate, it is very strong, thick and sturdy. The band is of substantial weight, as is the disc. I dislike when bands are too thin that they bend easily, so I made sure the ring shank was durable against normal ring abuse. 

Closing Thoughts

This birth of this collection is one of the few which originated so early in my career - still in high school. It was an overwhelming time in my life. I was going through so much, but at the end of the day, Katrina granted the opportunity for me to discover a passion I had no idea existed. There are so many ways to look at a tragic event. Looking back, I feel gratitude for the lessons learned from all the hardship. Who knows where I would be or what I would be doing with my life today. 

One thing I do know, my heart will always be here. 

Your Thoughts?

I read every single comment. I would love to hear your thoughts or if you have a personal story to share. 

If you visited New Orleans during Katrina, if you were displaced because of Katrina, if you have since moved elsewhere, or whatever your connection is, please leave a comment below. Our stories are important. Our stories are what drive us to create, because the passion is the energy that cultivates within us due to what is happening outside of us. Our lives are all about how we respond to what life throws at us. 

Peace ✌ & love 💜,

Cristy Cali