Rhonda Findley talks about her new line of clothing - To The Nines.
Bustling down Decatur Street with her rescue pooch Presston in tow, Rhonda Findley radiates energy and high spirits. After spending the afternoon at Pop City (940 Decatur St., 528-8559), she's en route to Fun Rock'n (1125 Decatur St., 524-1122). Owning and managing these two stores as well as a third location, Pop City Fun Rock'n (3109 Magazine St., 895-4102; www.funrockn.com), sounds exhausting, but Findley takes on the challenge with enthusiasm. "We just want to give the people of New Orleans what they want," she says, smiling.
We were in the midst of a late-afternoon photo shoot on Magazine Street last week when a vintage-looking red dress in the window of Bootsy’s FunRock’n caught my eye.
Maybe it was the blistering June heat that had me a little loopy, but the dress seemed like a mirage of easy summer style. The silhouette was a classic, 1950s sundress, with a boat-neck top, nipped waist and gathered skirt. Tie on a scarf, and you’re Audrey Hepburn on the back of a Vespa, cruising the streets of Rome.
I popped into the store to inquire — and soak up a few minutes of air-conditioning — and discovered that the little red dress in the window had a back story. (Doesn’t everything in New Orleans?)
The dress is a reproduction of a design created by Rhonda Findley’s grandmother in 1952. Findley, co-owner of FunRock’n and Pop City boutiques, found it in the attic of a barn attached to her mother’s childhood home in Little Rock, Ark.
Fifteen years ago, Rhonda Findley dug a vintage dress out of her family's abandoned home in Little Rock, Ark. Sewn by her grandmother in 1952, the full-skirted dress elicits compliments from strangers nearly every time Findley wears it. "People stop me on the street," Findley says. "Somebody tried to buy it off me this Easter Sunday."
Recognizing a good thing when she saw it, she realized she could harness the dress's popularity to launch her own locally produced clothing line. Findley had pattern maker Amanda Stone create an exact copy of the dress. She found a facility in eastern New Orleans to produce the garment. "The whole purpose is to make it a New Orleans product," says Findley, who co-owns Fun Rock'n and Pop City Fun Rock'n. "I didn't want to go to China or L.A. There is a big push to keep production here."