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A Proustian Travel Guide: Holly Williams on New Orleans

holly

A New Orleans entrepreneur and renaissance woman gives us a local's guide to the Big Easy.

A Jersey girl, born and raised, Holly Williams relocated to the south where she's become an entrepreneur and a true renaissance woman. She now owns and operates Trampled Rose Ranch, a guesthouse in Ponchatoula with a fully functioning farm. She also co-owns Tooth & Nail Trading Co. in New Orleans where she sells work by local artists as well as pieces from her own jewelry collection, Small Change Finery.

What are you most proud of?
Over the last few years I've built 3 small businesses from the ground up. My jewelry brand, Small Change Finery, started out as a side-hustle at art markets and has, in recent years, grown into something really great. I use a lot of antique items in my jewelry (like spoons, keys, or old bullet casings) and juxtapose them with organic elements (like fur, antlers, or animal teeth). I'm constantly looking for new objects that inspire me.  
These days, I still sell at art markets, but I have help. I'm featured at several local retailers, and a few others in South Carolina, New York, Ohio and Oregon. I've had some of my jewelry featured on TV shows, and I've sold to the occasional celebrity. I'm proud that I've been able to create this life for myself through a lot of blood, sweat and tears. 

What is your most cherished possession?
Probably my Tom Waits records. I guess you could call me a fanatic. My jewelry line (Small Change Finery) is named after my favourite album of his and my farm (Trampled Rose Ranch) after one of his prettiest, grittiest ballads. I've got my records by the kitchen table and often play him as I cook. He's pretty much the soundtrack to my daily life. 

What is your favorite thing to splurge on?
I can't resist an antique store! I'm always looking for small pieces that I can turn into jewelry for Small Chang Finery, or old farm equipment to decorate the farmhouse with. My living room mantle looks like something out of a horror flick with all of the rusty tools I've accumulated.  I love things with history and a past. Assorted animal skulls and taxidermy take up residence on the inside as well. Sometimes I think that I start up businesses just to support my thrift shop hunting habits. 

When traveling, what do you never leave home without?
Caffeine. It's got me by the horns. I'm not sure I could juggle all I do without it, honestly. It's a blessing and a curse. 

What is your favorite neighborhood (district, street or area)? And why? 
After living in New Orleans for several years, I discovered that my favorite neighborhood was really North of the city, in Ponchatoula. I just fell in love with the charm of its quaint little downtown, the local people, the land...it's magical to see the stars every night and listen to the frogs. I found Ponchatoula so inspiring, that I decided to buy a farm house and turn it into a guest house and animal sanctuary. Together with my partner, we raise dogs, chickens, goats, turkeys, geese, ducks and pigs. We also supply several local restaurants with our fresh yard eggs. It's a dream come true to share the animals and the land with our guests. I really enjoy getting to know all the folks who pass through. We get people from all walks of life, from all over the world. There's really no better vacation destination than one where you can get up in the morning and hug on a goat. I call it my morning 'Goat Therapy'. The guests really get a kick out of them too. 

Tell us about your favorite restaurant, café or bar. 
Adolfo's on Frenchman Street in New Orleans is definitely my favorite restaurant. It's a tiny, dimly-lit, hole-in-the-wall place and you usually have to wait for a table, but it's well worth it to get their amazing food. They serve an amalgam of Italian and Creole cuisines, which might sound a little strange, but believe me when I tell you that their Chicken Brenda will change your life. And if you're lucky enough to snag their window seat, it makes for excellent people watching. 

Where is the most unique shopping experience?
I may be biased on this topic, but I have to say Tooth & Nail Trading Co. is one of the most unique places to shop in the city. A couple years ago, I joined forces with another local jewelry designer and we opened up a little shop on Magazine Street featuring our work and the work of other local artists we know and love. This spring, we opened up our second location in the French Quarter. We've featured more than 25 local artists, designers, and craftsman and we're constantly scouting new, unconventional things to carry. I might describe our aesthetic as an eclectic mix of carefully curated, uncensored badassery. We have locally-designed clothing, unique visual art, snarky greeting cards, all-natural soaps that smell good enough to eat, cuss-word jewelry; it's a store full of things that you never knew you needed, but once you see them you can't live without. 
We're constantly planning art openings, cocktail tastings with the locally-made bitters we carry, charity events and more. In the French Quarter, you don't really need an excuse for a party - especially when you're located on a parade route. The downtown shop had a front row seat for this year's Pride parade. Our diverse staff really had a blast. They stayed open late, cranked Madonna radio to 11 and fired up the disco lights to celebrate. It's just such a fun place to be with other creative and inspiring people. 

Follow Trampled Rose Ranch, Tooth & Nail Trading Co, and Small Change Finery on Instagram.

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