As a premiere New Orleans based Carnival creator, I have been all over the Mardi Gras industry for the past 14 years. At first finding New Orleans as a music promoter 14 years ago, I quickly found my calling as a parade maker. I originally entered the industry as an independent costume designer. My eco-conscious designs have been seen in almost every local publication, Boston Globe, New York Times and countless movies and television including MTV and CNN, as well as on many Kings and Queens of Carnival.
My love of costumes led me to establish the first ‘green’ krewe in Carnival: The Bearded Oysters Dance Troupe, in 2004. The all-female bearded belles took the parading world by storm and have now become the largest organization of its kind in America, with a current membership of 900 women. The Bearded Oysters have paraded in over 100 local and national parades from Muses to New York City’s Halloween Parade. Their free spirit and slick, chick tricks continue to dazzle parade goers throughout the year. As Mother Shucker, I have managed to develop what is quickly becoming the most unique national women’s organization by building sisterhood through parading all along inducing a hunger for Louisiana Oysters. The world is my oyster, and I am making sure of it. My development of Bearded Oyster chapters from California to New York is just the beginning and I have plans of expanding internationally.
As a creative entrepreneur and Carnival enthusiast, I decided to take my talents deeper into the parading world and provide New Orleans with a brand new parading experience through a fresh Carnival club. The Krewe of Kolossos is the performance future of the parading world. Kolossos is not only a parade, ball and Krewe but a revolution in the marriage of art, culture, economic and ecological sustainability. My attendance at the University of New Orleans MBA program brought me a deep understanding of the economic and marketing needs of local artists. Kolossos provides members with an opportunity to create their own larger-than-life art and performance while also enjoying the benefits of a co-operative booking agency. The Krewe utilizes the vast talents of its members from musicians, float builders, costumers and performers to film makers, face painters, and photographers to ‘green’ Carnival. The members of the Krewe of Kolossos are catalogued and aided in every step of booking their sustainable, local talent to super-Krewes, festivals, events, conventions and the film industry.
With the success and maturity of my current Carnival ventures, I was ready to take what I had learned even further. I Heart Louisiana is my love letter to my home. I worked with 100s of artists and manufacturers to provide alternatives to imported Mardi Gras beads. Brought in from China, Mardi Gras beads represent over $500 million annually being shipped away and also an enormous human rights and ecological disaster. I Heart Louisiana has managed to turn the tide and steward the future of Carnival towards sustainability and community.
My passion for bringing environmentalism and creativity into rituals was the catalyst for Fantastic Casket. Stepping beyond Louisiana and providing my art to a national audience has been my dream. This dream is now a reality as many laws that once prevented me from making or selling caskets in my home state were recently overturned.