Culture + Style

Made in NOLA: How Heather Elizabeth Creates Iconic Keepsakes

(Photo: Courtesy of Heather Elizabeth Designs)

On a typical day, you’ll find New Orleans artist Heather Elizabeth toiling away inside her Mid-City studio. Heather creates handcrafted gems inspired by local history. Her collection of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, nightlights and wine stoppers glimmer with New Orleans street names, antique photographs, and vintage New Orleans logos.

“I’ve always been a history buff since I was little,” Heather says. “When I was a little girl, I would ask my family to take me to the Gallier House [the 19th century home of the most prominent New Orleans architect, James Gallier Jr.]. I’m six years old, and I’m begging them to take me to the French Quarter. [New Orleans] has always been a huge part of me.”

Heather’s words ring true because her family’s New Orleans origins date back five generations. “I realized that my fourth great-grandfather walked these streets,” she shares. And that’s exactly what Heather did during her lunch breaks while working in the French Quarter. She explored the historic streets, snapped photographs of her beautiful surroundings and became inspired to create something of her own.

In 2002, she started Heather Elizabeth Designs to transform her photographs into wearable art. Heather says, “I wanted to make something special for the people who were visiting New Orleans, but also for locals who had pride in their city.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Heather Elizabeth Designs)
(Photo: Courtesy of Heather Elizabeth Designs)

Each of Heather’s pieces begins with an antique photo, a snapshot from her personal collection, or a vintage logo from legendary companies like K&B — the former drugstore’s sign was was so recognizable that its distinct purple color is still known to locals as “K&B Purple.” Once Heather selects the artwork for each piece, she meticulously assembles it into a one-of-a-kind New Orleans keepsake.

“[My work] is something that comes from the heart — and it’s a labor of love,” says Heather.

Heather’s work is available in several places around New Orleans: