Mardi Gras is inherently fun, but for Alyssa Fletchinger, Vice President of Plush Appeal, helping krewes prepare for their parade experience is business. The family-owned Plush Appeal sells beads, throws and float décor for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but Fletchinger’s work takes her around the world. As she works to supply riders with the most desirable throws in town, Fletchinger has gotten to know a whole different side of the Carnival experience.
The Business of Beads
Every year, Fletchinger visits China for six to eight weeks to lay out a production schedule for the many different factories that make goods for Plush Appeal. As throws have gotten more elaborate in recent years, so has their creation.
“We deal in so many mediums that it’s more challenging,” she says.
But making the throws is only a portion of her job. Selling products to customers, making sure everyone gets their merchandise on time and getting feedback from riders is also crucial. Although the logistics can get challenging, she appreciates helping everyone have a good time for Carnival.
Like any industry, the business of beads experiences its own changes over the years. Fletchinger notes that there’s a current trend toward more personalized goods. “The number of custom items for each krewe has grown, and there are not as many generic throws now,” she says.
Additionally, the demand for more durable goods that can be used throughout the year has increased. Cell phone chargers and iPhone cases, for instance, have been a hit. These throws are valued by krewe members and paradegoers alike.
Beyond Mardi Gras
Fletchinger is working to expand her Carnival business beyond Mardi Gras by providing decorations for other events. Plush Appeal has recently produced beads for trade shows and conventions, for instance. The company also sells themed décor for parties that covers everything from Christmas to Easter to graduations.
In addition to her work with Plush Appeal, Fletchinger is also a dedicated volunteer for several New Orleans institutions. She has worked with the Junior League of New Orleans, the Louisiana Children’s Museum and St. Michael’s Special School bead donation program. Whether she’s supplying clients with customized beads or volunteering her time for others, Fletchinger is a dedicated member of the New Orleans community.
For more information, visit Plush Appeal, 2812 Toulouse St., (800) 899-1869, 482-0000, MardiGrasSpot.com