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Q&A with Bee Fitzpatrick & Dabney Jacob

Co-owners, Orient Expressed

How did you get into the business? DJ: It was 1978 and we were two art teachers looking for an excuse to fund a traveling trip! We went to Asia and bought merchandise to sell when we got back. BF: It was the first original “pop up” shop and it sold out! After a few more times, we realized we could turn this into a long-term business.

What about children’s clothing? BF: We were young moms and we decided to start designing beautiful and well-priced clothes, as we do today.

Do you still go travelling for goods? DJ: Absolutely, we go to India, Bali, China, the Philippines, Thailand and Japan, as well as cities in Europe. BF: We love finding incredible antiques as much as we like beautiful new handmade items.

Why are New Orleanians so into home décor? DJ: I think the city attracts artistic types who enjoy decorating and creating homes. They also enjoy entertaining and want beautiful spaces in which to do so. BF: The city is full of great architecture and homes with high ceilings. They provide a wonderful shell to create something special both within and without.

What is your best piece of advice for decorating? BF: Find a foundation piece: an incredible item of furniture that will anchor the room and allow you to build around it.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the business? DJ: Know to whom you’re selling and be flexible to go with what works. Employ your friends and family!

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