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.
Findley opened her first store 10 years ago. A freelance cookbook writer looking to move into another field, she befriended her neighbor and future business partner David Gordin, who has been a vendor at the French Market for more than 20 years. Together they opened Fun Rock'n on Decatur Street, which sells T-shirts with New Orleans-centric, iron-on designs, quirky costumes and novelty gifts that range from collectible action figures depicting Sigmund Freud and "Crazy Cat Lady" to magnetic mustaches for cars. "We really wanted to do something fun and festive that exuded the spirit of the city, and that was reminiscent of the originality David was known for in his booth," Findley says. The store's success led them to launch their more fashion-oriented concept, Pop City.
Pop City is awash in bright, vibrant apparel, accessories and pieces by artists like Dr. Bob and Brandon Delles. There are tiny top hats by Kate McNee and headbands by Anne and Laura Guccione's Little Shop of Fantasy. Pop City also is home to Findley's label, To The Nines (www.neworleanstothenines.com), a clothing line consisting of vintage-inspired skirts and dresses made of wax cloth fabrics imported from Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria. Findley plans to expand To The Nines, eventually adding plus sizes and branching out to a new shop location. She hopes to donate a To The Nines dress to the Make It Right Foundation. "The idea is to auction a dress online after it is worn (by a celebrity) to the fundraiser, and to donate the entirety of those proceeds to the Make It Right Foundation," Findley says. Most of the To The Nines garments cost $100-$150, and every purchase helps a needy child. "For every skirt or dress we sell, we donate a uniform to a schoolgirl in Africa as part of our legacy in giving project," says Findley, who hopes to see the New Orleans fashion scene grow. "(Having more local fashion labels) just makes the New Orleans fashion scene stronger, and I'm glad to be part of it."