When Baton Rouge native Desiree Guidry started selling her own original designs, she said “hello” to success and “hey” to Penelope.
After Guidry graduated with a major in graphic design at Southeastern University in 2011, she wanted to do something she was passionate about. It took her about a year to find a job she enjoyed, but it didn’t have anything to do with her degree. So, in 2012 she began designing t-shirts and putting them on Etsy for the world to see. She had local designs that celebrated Louisiana, which were uncommon at the time.
“It blew up,” Guidry said. “People wanted more, and a few magazines contacted me wanting my designs.”
Guidry sold her products online until she opened her brick-and-mortar store Hey, Penelope in 2014 at 7317 Jefferson Highway. She said she hopes to move closer to LSU in the future, but she will stay in her current location for now.
“I want to expand one day, maybe open something around LSU or the Perkins area,” Guidry said. ”This really is the perfect spot for me now.”
The name “Hey, Penelope” comes from one of Guidry’s favorite songs, “Penelope” by Pinback. It talks about a woman named Penelope who needs a confidence boost. Guidry said she likes the message behind the song and wanted her store to reflect its message.
Hey, Penelope is centrally located and impossible to miss because the building is covered in black and white stripes. The building’s exterior matches its festive interior with colorful, stand-out designs.
Guidry said she has been ready to be a store owner since she was in grade school. She said her love for business combines perfectly with her love for creative expression through graphic design.
“I had lemonade stands as a child, and I was always fascinated by my grandpa’s small shop,” Guidry said. “I guess I’ve always loved local businesses, which is why I carry local artists’ work in my shop.”
Guidry sells her own work at the store, but she also promotes other Louisiana-based brands. She carries local lines such as Lionheart Prints, SAVVYROOT, BONFOLK, Blackbird Letterpress and others.
Hey, Penelope carries a variety of items such as locally made items like socks by BONFOLK and jewelry by Beneath the Bark, other clothing, her own designs and standard items like shoes and candles.
“I try to keep variety in the store,” Guidry said. “I want the store to carry things that could interest a lot of people.”
Guidry said she always appreciated Baton Rouge’s strong culture, which is why her designs focus on local themes. She has incorporated the state’s recognizable outline and other notable Louisiana characteristics.
“I started doing the designs when not many people were doing them,” Guidry said.
Guidry said she never expected to get this far with her work, but she hopes to do bigger and better things as Hey, Penelope grows.
“It started as a creative outlet, but then became my life,” Guidry said. “I’ve wanted this since I was a little girl. I’m really grateful and happy with the store and hope to expand it one day.”