Growing up, Katrina Greer, owner of The French Library (3811 Magazine St., 504-267-3707; www.thefrenchlibrary.com), says she always had her head buried in a book. After obtaining her bachelor's degree of commerce with a specialization in retail and marketing, she was "amped" to combine her love of reading with a business venture.
"Fate would have me become a wife and a mother first," she says. Her husband, Jabari Greer, was signed to the New Orleans Saints shortly before they married. Luckily, they were able to stay in the Crescent City for five years before he retired.
A few factors led to The French Library's opening. First, their oldest child started reading. "Although New Orleans has a great selection of books and bookstores for English speakers, my children attend a French immersion school," Greer says. "I could not find any French books." She says even online U.S. searches didn't yield much variety.
"There is a generation of children growing up in New Orleans attending French immersion schools or being taught French as a second language," she says. "My house was becoming a library with books overflowing in every room, and I was always suggesting or gifting books to friends."
Greer opened the store dedicated to children with a focus on books written in French.
"I have always had a passion for children and creating an environment and space where every child feels special and like they are magic," she says. A philanthropist and activist for children's education with many beautiful furniture pieces, she moved some furniture into a space on Magazine Street that is "big enough to grow with us." In late 2015, Greer collaborated with local designer Rivers Spencer to pull the space together. The shop opened in June 2016.
"We carry French books, toys, games, and have also branched out into a fairy-tale inspired clothing line, The Tortoise and the Hare, and French-inspired home goods and fare," Greer says. "We have become a hub for all things French."
The shop features cozy nooks where children can read, write or daydream.
It also offers classes and French-themed events, including study halls, story time, ukulele lessons and yoga classes. In a nod to her husband's football career, the shop also hosts "Game Day en Francais" on Sundays during Saints season.
"I would love for children to grow up in The French Library, and look back on their childhood with a fondness for reading and learning," Greer says. "I would love for everyone to feel at peace when walking into the shop."