Bon Castor, which means “by hand,” is the funky vision of Amy Knoll, who opened her New Orleans shop in the Bywater in March 2012. Situated in the 3200 block – along a hopping stretch of Burgundy, near Suis Generis and Bud Rip’s and across the way from Maurapas Foods – Knoll's shop showcases handmade crafts, repurposed textiles and fashion statements, gifts and jewelry, all made by local hands.
Knoll brings 15 years of retail experience, and she's a resident of the 7th Ward Street Roch neighborhood in New Orleans. After falling in love with a boy who evacuated to Chicago after Katrina, Knoll arrived in New Orleans in 2009, and she's part of the partnership that owns The Lost Love Lounge in the Marigny.
But it's Bon Castor that fulfills her dream of having a storefront to showcase the amazing things local artisans produce and creating economic opportunities in the Bywater.
This album-turned-clock by artist Judy Gamache Digeorge is just one of the locally made gifts at Bon Castor — Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
What might you find at this cheery spot that showcases a fluid array of work by 80-plus artists and artisans?
Beautiful dresses from Esther Rose, asymmetrical minis with unhemmed edges, tulle and sequin fringe or party dresses with twists of fabric that dance across a frock straight out of A Midsummer Night's Dream - You have to try them on, as there are no sizes, just imagined perfect fits.
The SULA Foundation 2015 pit bull calendar, a fundraiser for this nonprofit that promotes responsible pit bull ownership throughout New Orleans
Cool potholders and pillows by Tracy Thomson, inspired by New Orleans’ iconic water meter cover, bearing the crescent moon and stars design - Thomson also fashions her distinctive Kabuki Hats and tutus.
Repurposed art, like New Orleans-centric Scrabble tile earrings and vinyl records turned into whimsical clocks by Bayou St. John artist Judy Gamache Digeorge - She is a fixture on the local arts festival circuit and even takes custom orders.
You’ll also find hand-sewn baby bibs, crocheted blankets, hats, bejeweled hat pins and some groovy jewelry. There’s a line of handmade soap, all kinds of upcycled clothing and even handmade and hand-painted furniture. If you’re lucky, there might even be another director’s chair made from last year’s Jazz Fest banners, but those are few and far between.
Knoll keeps prices reasonable. Everything for sale is unique or vintage and most items are priced under $100, depending on what you spy. Stay awhile, and book an edgy ‘do, cut and styled in the back by coiffeur Joe Starnes.
This place, like so many cool spots in the Bywater, is dog friendly. It’s all fun and quirky and offbeat, which means Bon Castor is perfectly New Orleans.