I first met Krista DeJoseph, as I meet many people, at a bad craft show. The two day holiday market we were at was slow and, being next to each other, we had a lot of time to get to know one another (the champagne we brought out for Day 2 didn’t hurt either). Krista’s brand, Queens Metal, was (in my opinion), one of the first real jewelry brands that started out at the markets to make it big. Krista has been going at it non stop for close to a decade now, and she doesn’t look like she’s stopping any time soon.
A few years ago, Krista left NYC for New Orleans and discovered her new calling in life: shop owner! She and her partner launched Tooth and Nail Trading Co. and have been cultivating a fan base not only from local residents, but T&N has now become a tourist destination for those looking for unique souvenirs or gifts.
Check out Krista’s interview below and don’t forget to head to her shop which is located on historic Magazine Street in New Orleans, LA, because Tooth and Nail Trading Co carries handmade work by more than two dozen independent artists.
What made you decide that you needed to create Tooth and Nail Trading Co?
I decided to pursue opening a retail space because I wanted a more permanent home for my jewelry collection (Queens Metal). I was getting burnt out with relying so much on art markets for my income. Art markets are a wonderful thing, but you have to deal with weather, shoppers trying to haggle with you on prices and the limitations of a display that needs to be set up and then packed away every day. Also, I simply love the process of curating objects and I knew that I would really enjoy seeking out other artists and lines to carry in Tooth & Nail.
When did you think to yourself “okay, this is definitely viable?”
Well, we’ve only been in business for a year, so although we’re pleased with the success we’ve had thus far, we’re really still in our infancy. However, I had the thought that, “Wow, this is actually working” when I saw the amount of foot traffic Tooth & Nail had during the holiday season. I knew that there was big potential in what we were doing.
What’s a surprising challenge that you didn’t know you’d encounter along the way?
Figuring out what kind of customer we want to bring into the store, and then sourcing the inventory that appeals to them. We initially thought that most of our shoppers would be coming from the neighborhood. In fact, we get a lot more tourist traffic than we expected. We love the out-of-town shoppers, but are working to constantly have fresh, new products to keep our local customers returning again and again.
How important was social media in your success? Do you think you would have been as successful without the advent of social media?
The potential of social media is really staggering. If you’re good at online self-promotion, it WILL translate into sales. My business partner is much better than I am at remembering to keep our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram updated. She’ll post a photo of a new product or something shes making, and we’ll usually be contacted by someone who is interested in purchasing it. However, I find the process of constantly updating and keeping posts interesting to be really overwhelming!!
What is something someone outside of your industry might not realize about the work you do?
It’s so much more involved than it sounds! For myself and my partner, not only do we own the store, but we make all the jewelry we sell. So it’s making, selling, promoting, sourcing materials and products, lining up photo shoots for new products, pitching stories to the media, updating the look of the store, doing the accounting…. and manning the shop. Thank God for my business partner, Holly Williams. We’re a perfect compliment to each other and work really well together!!