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The Feel-good Store 

At first glance, a shopper might mistake Rouge Beauty Boutique (539 Dumaine St., 525-8686; www.rougebeauty.com) for just a makeup salon, but once inside, customers find it's a store filled with jewelry, handbags, candles, hair decor and gifts -- all selected to inspire and delight.

Owner and makeup artist Gina Miller says the original plan for the store, which will celebrate a one-year anniversary in January, was to provide a comfortable place where brides could come for makeup applications as well as an outlet for customers seeking quality products in every price range. The resulting business, however, expanded the idea of accessories to include all kinds of things from fashion to clocks and made a fun-loving environment an essential.

Her efforts earned the attention of Women's Wear Daily, which recently featured Rouge Beauty among its picks for best independent beauty boutiques across the country. "I work hard to find lines that aren't corporate, where an artist is behind the product that I can talk to about it when I want to," Miller says. "I try to find lines that are fun, effective, appealing and affordable. It's hard to find all those things in one product."

Makeup brands include exclusives on the spunky Yes, Mistress and Pretty, Pretty lines as well as hard-to-find Bibo, Cookie Puss, Doll Face, Eye Luv and others, all with packaging as fun as the goodies inside.

"Makeup isn't necessary," Miller says. "It's an accessory. It should be fun. Part of my goal here was to create a place where people can change their day for $15. It's a great thing to make a difference."

To expand the options for lifting customers' spirits, Miller has assembled unique prayer candles decorated with the faces of pop icons, other candles that range from classic to some scented like fruit cocktail (and packaged in a labeled grocery can), canned snow and gingerbread. Tainted Love soap, Wash Away Your Sins bubble bath and rings made with music-box ballerinas add touches of humor. She also likes elegance with an edge, such as Agent Provocateur products in which all the components of the perfume, lotion (referred to as "body lingerie" for its silky coverage and translucent sheen) and (coming soon) bubble bath are considered aphrodisiacs. The products also smell good.

To decorate the body, there are a range of hair accessories, bracelets, rings, necklaces and more, some made with reproductions of vintage prints and others sparkling with colored crystals. Handbags range from leather to fabric to embellished metal lunchboxes. To beautify your personal space there are unusual clocks, pin-up posters, risque magnet sets, and lots of other decorative accents.

"I try to work with lots of artists from all over, including San Francisco, Austin (Texas) and locally," Miller says. "I look for things I haven't seen for sale around town. I like to have a lot of little surprises for people to find. It's fun."

A Cut Above

Parran's Po-boys of Metairie (3939 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite B, Metairie, 885-3416) has been feeding New Orleans-area residents overstuffed and dressed po-boys and seafood muffalettas for more than a decade in a sit-down or take-out restaurant. Today, the business also offers hot lunches, a deli and high-quality meat market with experienced butchers who'll cut your selections to order. Parran's also will cater events large and small, including office parties, brunches in people's homes, crawfish boils and larger events.

"Nothing is too big or too small," says store Manager Fred Schmiderer. "We'll do anything, go anywhere -- as long as it's inside the law. It is a family-type atmosphere here." The generous catering menu includes cold hors d'oeuvres such as vegetable or cheese and fruit trays, platters of 50 finger sandwiches, po-boys, or cocktail muffalettas. Hot hors d'oeuvres include mini meatballs, fried chicken legs, and catfish or chicken fingers as well as heat-and-serve gallons of jambalaya, crawfish fettuccine Alfredo or etouffee and more. Soups also are available. For the holidays, Parran's is offering everything for a special feast from Cajun fried turkey and holiday hams to gravy, stuffed mirlitons, gumbo and desserts.

Restaurant customers also have a generous daily menu that includes po-boys and sandwiches made with everything from roast beef to yellow fin tuna, plus 10 to 15 daily plate lunch specials or whatever else a diner wants to eat.

"Our menu is larger than our restaurant," Schmiderer says. "You can get almost anything you want. There's also a meat market and deli now where you can get all fresh-cut meats. It's like an old-time butcher shop, and our two butchers have 50 years of combined experience cutting meats."

The business carries only Choice grade meats and the butchers will cut them to order on request.

click to enlarge Robin L'Hoste and store owner Gina Miller can show customers at Rouge Beauty Boutique a multitude of accessories, from cosmetics to a ring made with a music-box ballerina to chic handbags, all aimed at making people feel happier about themselves.
  • Robin L'Hoste and store owner Gina Miller can show customers at Rouge Beauty Boutique a multitude of accessories, from cosmetics to a ring made with a music-box ballerina to chic handbags, all aimed at making people feel happier about themselves.
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