Like all too many young creatives, Hannah Richter graduated college unsure of her next move, or her next destination. Cut to Summer of 2021, she’s working at the Travelers in New Orleans, a bed and breakfast establishment run by a team of in-house artists who operate the hotel while exploring their various creative endeavors on-site. Travelers allow Hannah, and her fellow coworkers to immerse themselves in a consistently creative environment. And, it’s deep in the hauntingly inspiring city of New Orleans.
An Unconventional Path
So, how did she end up in New Orleans? Richter notes that she attempted the classic, post-grad job hunt in the exact way it was “supposed” to be done. Browsing LinkedIn and other job sites, making connections, and constantly sending out applications to pretty much no avail. And, with disappointing results, she began to feel discouraged. “As someone who graduated with a liberal arts degree, I felt totally and completely unemployable,” she tells me.
But, there was one unexplainable yet pressing goal that was pulling at her throughout her search. That goal was moving to New Orleans. “Most people I’ve met so far in New Orleans didn’t come down here for a specific job or opportunity,” Richter says. “Instead, they were drawn to the city, made the move, and are living down here figuring it out.” So NOLA wasn’t so much a “logic-motivated” dream. Rather, it was a move that Richter felt drawn to deep in her core.
And, one day, she happened to open up her computer to a local New Orleans Facebook group. Someone had posted an advert for an open position at the Travelers. She filled out the google form on a whim. Three interviews later, she was employed at the B&B with free housing and free creative reign.
The Travelers New Orleans
The Travelers is, in simplest form, a bed and breakfast establishment. It houses travelers on their various stops through the city of New Orleans. Yet at its core, it’s a creative collective. The goal of the Travelers founders, who have set up shop in both New Orleans and Greenville, Mississippi, is to facilitate a multi-beneficial creative space that benefits both the employed creatives at the hotel and its visitors.
The position at the Travelers is a perfect example of a work-trade agreement. A work-trade is a concept that Richter encourages all young creatives to consider as a potential career option. It’s a pretty simple concept. Richter and her coworkers/co-creators are paid a weekly stipend and are additionally provided with free housing and free studio space. In return, they spend a few days a week at work to keep the B&B itself running smoothly. These tasks include anything from logistical assignments such as cleaning, operating socials, and checking in guests, to simply interacting with the guests, ensuring that the space lives up to its creative name.
And there’s the additional benefit of only having to work 15-20 hours per week. The employees at Travelers still have plenty of time free to work on their various creative endeavors. And creativity doesn’t rest on the clock. Richter even notes that a large portion of her creative inspiration actually comes from spending time with the guests that stop in and out of Travelers.
Building Creative Muscles
It seems that the key to keeping Travelers a fascinating art collective in itself is to hire a fascinating collection of artists and creators to offer their services. In NOLA, we have Hannah Richter, a writer at her core who also dabbles with extreme talent in other creative mediums, from art to photography to personalized costuming. Richter also lauds the talents of her creative co-workers. There’s Walker, a stunt double and sculptor. There’s Shauna, a TV writer, producer, and non-profit worker. Finally, Daniel, an essayist and curatorial worker.
Surround yourself with creative people. After all, you are what you eat!”hannah richter
One of the core messages of Richter’s time at Travelers is this. If you’re constantly surrounded by creators, you physically can’t escape the creative drive. Thus, you’re consistently learning and growing in your personal craft.
This outpouring of creative inspiration within the Travelers community is one of the elements that inspires each employed creator to continue honing their own personal crafts. Each employee enters the Travelers world with a few set goals or desires in their creative work that they wish to accomplish during their work-trade time. For Richter, this goal became adopting and cultivating “The Artist’s Way.” This creative lifestyle path refers to what Richter calls “building up the muscle of your craft.”
As a writer, building muscle means expertly harnessing your ability with prose. She advises writing often, even if the content you produce is “bad.” Even bad writing is writing. And, writing successfully and consistently takes time and practice. So, Richter’s overarching goal at Travelers is to become a writer who is able to successfully create anytime, anywhere, without having to sit around and wait for that random and often untimely spark of creative inspiration.
Into the Void
Hannah Richter’s entire story boils down to a combined presence of fate and personal drive. Richter advises young creators who are feeling at all lost or confused about their future paths to attempt to mentally create a separation between the mind and the heart. “If you could potentially envision a world wherein there are absolutely no extraneous circumstances guiding your future path other than your deepest goal, what would that goal be? Where is your creative instinct drawing you toward?”
For Richter, that very instinct is what drew her to the concept of life in New Orleans. It was a concept that was once not much more than a momentarily unattainable dream. Richter notes that once you realize your goals, attaining them is easier said than done. There are plenty of logistical concerns that creators face. The highest of them is often financial roadblocks. However, the first step to finding a space that allows for overcoming these obstacles is to fully realize your future goals. “Hone in on the thing that is ultimately pulling you,” Richter advises. “Listen to your inner artist. If you were in a void, where there were no logistical concerns, what would you be doing in your ideal world with no selected pressures?”
Featured Image Courtesy of Hannah Richter