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New Orleans Sole


The design for Civic Duty's Shoe for a Cause hints at one company's mission. All proceeds from the black-and-gold, fleur-de-lis-inscribed shoe benefit Common Ground Relief's efforts to rebuild New Orleans communities. "As the cause was New Orleans-based, we wanted to capture New Orleans' spirit on the shoe," says Civic Duty designer and founder Steven Weinreb, who worked with Common Ground for a week last summer and was so impressed with the nonprofit organization he made it the beneficiary of his inaugural Shoe for a Cause.

  The environmentally friendly, recyclable shoe is made of Tyvek, a material used in home construction and shipping envelopes. "The material is lightweight and supple," Weinreb says. "The shoes are extremely comfortable and practically indestructible, and you can recycle the Tyvek when you are done with the shoe." — Missy Wilkinson

Tress for Success

The Common Ground Shoe For A Cause costs $54 at, and 100 percent of profits benefit Common Ground Relief.
  • The Common Ground Shoe For A Cause costs $54 at, and 100 percent of profits benefit Common Ground Relief.

Best known for her platinum pixie cut and ruthlessly honest television persona, Australian hair stylist Tabatha Coffey has taken to the bookshelves with the release of her autobiography It's Not Really About The Hair: The Honest Truth About Life, Love, and the Business of Beauty. Fans of Tabatha's Salon Takeover on Bravo might be surprised to learn of the sharp-tongued beauty maven's unorthodox origins. Coffey spent her childhood in the strip clubs her parents owned in Adelaide, Australia, and she openly discusses her struggles with obesity and self-image. "I learned from a very young age that it was OK to be yourself," she says. "Not only has this made me more sensitive to people who don't fit the current ideal of beauty, it has given me the openness to see beauty in everyone, regardless of their appearance."

   Coffey's personal history is interspersed with advice on subjects ranging from business to plastic surgery, but her overarching message, she says, is for readers to feel empowered and comfortable in their own skin. "I think it's encouraging for people to read about how I dealt with my own personal struggles and emerged stronger and more assertive as a result," she says. "It's a reminder that they're not alone, that there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

  The book is available at Garden District Book Shop for $21.99 (2727 Prytania St., 895-2266). — Carrie Marks

Home Run


Nearly six years after Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, Matthew Morel is poised to move out of his FEMA trailer into a new Greek Revival-style home with 9 foot ceilings and a wide front porch. "My three daughters can't wait to get in," Morel says. "They can't wait for a home-cooked meal."

  Designed by New Orleans native and Harvard University architecture school graduate William Monaghan, the home is one of more than 40 constructed by nonprofit organization Build Now (373-6962; "We are fighting blight and benefiting the economy by getting rid of devastated houses," Monaghan says. "Our interest is to get the neighborhoods back in action. We are the only nonprofit organization in New Orleans that will build a house for somebody on their site."

  The elevated, energy-efficient homes range from a simple, 900-square-foot shotgun design for $100,000 to a 1,479-square-foot Creole cottage for $160,000. "That includes everything from sidewalks to appliances," says Monaghan, whose company helps homebuyers of all income brackets find affordable lots, deal with Road Home appeals and navigate other obstacles to home ownership.

  Perhaps best of all is the houses' design, which features an exterior that looks at home in any New Orleans neighborhood and an interior cleverly designed to maximize living space by reducing what Monaghan calls "useless area" (hallways, oversized living rooms). "My goal was to make the most usable space and have the house be affordable to build, insure and heat," he says. "We wanted to use New Orleans architecture with which people are familiar, and we wanted people to feel comfortable, that this was home." — Missy Wilkinson

At 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at its model home (5713 Elysian Fields Ave.) Build Now hosts a financing workshop: "Putting the Pieces Together: The Build Now Approach to Financing for New Construction After Hurricane Katrina." For more information, call 324-3964 or email

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