I have always wanted to work with a company that promotes New Orleans culture, which is why early in my career I worked with companies like the Louisiana Superdome, the University of New Orleans Athletic Department, and even in high school, I was a costume character at the local theme park Jazzland. It was not until after Hurricane Katrina that I had the "ah-ha" moment for what later turned my passion for New Orleans into the Jambalaya Girl business. My house had flooded, I was evacuated and I wanted to help, so I started cooking Jambalaya.
My dad was a small business owner in the outdoor cooking equipment industry in New Orleans, so I grew up cooking big cast iron pots full of Jambalaya with him for festivals, parties, fundraisers and at my older brother's sporting events. After the hurricane, my dad and I came up with a fundraising idea to travel to college football tailgates across the country to serve our jambalaya - which raised more than $100,000 for New Orleans. People LOVED the jambalaya, they kept asking us for the recipe. This connection inspired me to create my business.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly, as a kid I had my dreams set on leading one of the dance groups that marched in Mardi Gras parades! But as I got a little older, I wanted to pursue a career in journalism to write about my favorite city. Thankfully, this all came together in a way and I have achieved these goals through my business and through being the character that is the girl with the fork earrings . . . Jambalaya Girl!
What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?
The craving for New Orleans flavor has reached international levels.
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
Take advantage of professional resources for small and women-owned businesses. The foundation of my business was built many thanks to organizations like WBEC South/WBENC, LA Small Business Development Center, Idea Village and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
What has benefited my business the most is the access to supplier diversity professionals at larger corporations and retailers. There is no guarantee for business, but these professionals help prepare you to do business with their companies so you become the top pick for the job or opportunity.
Fill in the blank:
When I face a challenge, I... ask questions to find if there's an opportunity for growth.
If I could go back in time, I... would tell myself keep being the character that you are, you'll make a great business out of it one day.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is.... the "trinity" for Louisiana cooking - celery, onion and bell pepper.
By this time next year, I will be... a working mom. (I am due to have my first child April 20!)
The best thing that happened to me last week was...hearing from customers how much they love our jambalaya and gumbo.
To get my creative juices flowing, my go to is great conversations over a good meal.
About Jambalaya girl
Jambalaya Girl brings her taste of New Orleans to the world with easy to prepare food products inspired by her family recipes, made proudly in New Orleans. Learn more.