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Frustrated with the lack of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional Mardi Gras plastic throws (which generate tons of waste and clog our sewers and streets before ending up in waterways and oceans), Allison, Melissa, and Penn embarked on a quest to design and source items they would be proud to throw. With "love the party, love the planet" as a mantra, they launched Epiphany Throws — a company passionate about fair trade, waste reduction, sustainability, and giving back. Their retail products are 100% handmade in New Orleans, which also creates jobs in the community.

WHY NEW ORLEANS?

Penn: I grew up in Nola and have a passion for the rich culture and history — there's a soul all its own that could never be duplicated.

Allison: Family!

Melissa: I matched in a residency program here in New Orleans. I ended up meeting my husband on the 12th floor of Charity Hospital and the rest is history.

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HOW DID THE PANDEMIC INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVITY?

Penn: We would not have created the upcycled costume accessories without the pandemic. The need for masks was so ubiquitous that we couldn't help but think of selling them. Mardi Gras costumes are so frequently thrown away after one use, so we just connected the dots and got to work.

Allison: It forced us to be creative with our business model. We rely on riders purchasing bulk throws, and obviously that didn't happen this year. We came up with some cool alternatives, such as the upcycled accessories, Personal Parade Packs, and the Epiphany Bracelet, which supported Feed the Second Line.

WHAT IS INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?

Melissa: Science. A vaccine that was developed for a novel virus this quickly is inspirational. I'm inspired by my kids. They wear those masks better than most adults. They are our future and we owe it to them to make this world a better place.

EPIPHANY THROWS

FAVORITE PART ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

Melissa: I had a friend who told me that she understood she needed to be more sustainable, but for her it needed to be easy. I have thought about this comment a lot. I love that Epiphany is making a tangible effort to make Mardi Gras more sustainable and get the krewes, riders, and suppliers talking about their environmental impact on the city of New Orleans.

FAVORITE QUOTE?

Penn: "Wherever you go, there you are."

Allison: I love the Beatitudes.

Melissa: "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it." Robert Swan

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Interviews have been edited and condensed.

This article appeared in the April 2021 Issue of Adore Magazine.