Moving in amid the storm of highly anticipated and well-received dining options along St. Claude Avenue — including spots like Junction, Red Chinese and the soon-to-open St. Roch Market — are an array of local retailers. Initiated by a grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation to St. Claude Main Street, pop-up retail stores now occupy space along the avenue. One shop participating in the six-month program, which runs through February, is Dynamo: A Romantic Boutique in the Deep South (LA 46, 2232 St. Claude Ave.).
Dynamo is strongly health-based in an industry that is not highly regulated. Co-founded by Hope Kodman and Nico Darling, the ladies put significant effort into curating the items that they sell, ensuring that they are safe for use. Youthful and driven, Nico and Hope offer both fun and education with their women-centered store in city where sex is a hot topic, one recently under heavy debate.
Coming from an anthropology background, Hope describes her inspiration for starting Dynamo, “I love hearing people’s stories. Eventually, this morphed into a curiosity in studying human sexuality — I always enjoyed having frank discussions and learning about people’s experiences. We’ve created a sex-positive, shame-free environment to encourage curious minds to participate and learn.”
“One of the things we want to do for the community is to be a resource to foster educated discussions,” Nico adds. “We welcome people of all genders and orientations, but as a female-driven business we especially want to help women articulate their desires and understand their bodies.”
Through the pop-up retail program, Hope and Nico have joined a greater movement to promote business in the St. Claude area. While the initial round of retailers was targeted to a hyperlocal market, Dawne Massey, Executive Director of St. Claude Main Street, has larger goals as the program expands noting, “the intention was to give people in the surrounding neighborhoods the opportunity to submit a proposal for their business, and selected the strongest applicants — ones that had the greatest opportunity for success.”
In a happy accident, all ten businesses selected for this inaugural year were female owned. In the future, Massey said, they hope to grow, expanding the program to the Greater New Orleans area.
Small business is on the upswing in New Orleans and the pop-up retail program offered by St. Claude Main Street is an opportunity to promote business in the area while preparing smaller vendors for the next step in achieving their goals. Hope and Nico are set to enjoy the next two months of extra face-time to plan their next move.
More information about St. Claude Main Street can be found by visiting www.stclaude.org. Dynamo will be located at LA 47 though February. Learn more about Dynamo by visiting shop.dynamotoys.com or by following them on Twitter.