The New Orleans Underground guide for Female Entrepreneurs

10 tips to make it happen

Nola City View

New Orleans feels like a fairy tale town, but instead of goblins and elves, this one is made of boats and pirates. Before being bought by the US around 1800 it was founded by the French and ruled by the Spanish. It is a city made of history, due to it’s location used to be one of the wealthiest cities in the US (first half of 19th century).

But, also due to it’s location it has suffered from the Hurricane madness over the years. The city’s jazz and dance halls, cajun food and swamplands, racial challenges & education system are intertwined making it a city that owns the “je ne sais quoi” concept.

After Katrina a city like New Orleans has been thriving due to those who, regardless what is put on their plate, never give up. It’s now a city of hope, it’s about the future, about opportunities and mostly of all a city of community.

So, how does New Orleans work for Female Entrepreneurs?

If you are black, a female, and you are working on the tech industry in New Orleans, hold your horses because you are in for a ride. But, if you are a female entrepreneur in New Orleans, regardless your background or race, if you were not born and raised in New Orleans, you better learn quickly about all the underground networks that do exist.

This sums up the first interviews that I made to women entrepreneurs in New Orleans, but bare with me just a second…

If you are quick on the trigger and think New Orleans is not a city for female entrepreneurs, think twice, because the hidden gems are out there, and they come in bigger quantities than you could have ever imagined.

1) CHALLENGES EXIST — OVERCOMING THEM IS THE ONLY OPTION

In life, change is the only guarantee you have. If everything changes, then it’s so natural that challenges come along. You learn and grow with them, much more than you would when only good things happen.
 NOLA thrives in spite of it’s natural disasters and people willingly change and adjust.

2) IT’S WHO YOU KNOW

YTILI fellows in NOLA

More than anywhere else NOLA is all about the underground networks. It is a small town and most people are willing to help you. You need to know who to reach, but most of all you need to be contributing to the community. Get this list of resources for entrepreneurs. Also don’t forget to pin The GoodWork Network on your list of contacts, you will know why later on in the game.

3) BUSINESS ARE MADE OUTSIDE DE BOARDROOM

Are you a Mardi Grass lover? Well, if not you should because there are all-female Krews who run a parade and once you are in you will be part of a tribe. That will, with time lead you to access some of the women making business in New Orleans.
 The cities’ pace is that southern slower motion so between a cajun meal and a jazz night out you will have time to exchange ideas and shake hands. (More details about the MUSES parade here)

4) SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS A BIG THING

Working from Idea Village

Working at Idea Village

If you want to develop a company that impacts the community, NOLA is the city for you. For female entrepreneurs you will find tight knit community of women who will help each other. But be aware this is still about Community, a word you will here regardless the conversation topic.

My favourite spots to look into are The Idea Village and Go Propeller. Although they are not female-centered they definitely have a wide-range of events, programs and of course the NOLA entrepreneurship week that has became the event of all things entrepreneurship.

5) MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING

Impacting one million people is more important than making a million dollars. In most of the US cities people always talk about making a million. NOLA is different. Impacting and creating a solid community is the focus. For female entrepreneurs this is a natural skill-set. Women thrive on building communities. If you are in the service industry make sure you find the groups that can support you on your life mission. (Roux Carré is one of the Food Incubators that I strongly recommend)

6) Education for change

Are you in STEM? Are you young ? Then write down these two names. Flor & Florence.
 Flor is a bright and young women who has created Electric Girls an Organisation that is bringing more girls into the STEM. And Florence who has been going around the sun for some time now has dedicated her lifetime in non-profits and really believes on the Female Empowerment movement. You can find her at Nola4Women.

7) IT’S POSSIBLE TO RE-BRAND & REFUEL CONSTANTLY

French Quarter corner

NOLA is more than Bourbon Street. Is also about the neighbourhoods of Bywater , Marigny, 7th Ward, Warehouse district and so on. If you want to look at entrepreneurship examples and how it’s done check out Preservation Hall. They were able to integrate the demand for jazz on a very antique room mashing brilliantly the past into the present. You can transform, rebrand and adapt as long as you find a purpose for your endeavour.

8) BRING YOUR ASSEST TO THE TABLE

New Orleans has a lot of weakness but surprisingly the strong points make you forget about everything else.

Lafayette Cemetery entrance

It’s the place where Voodoo was introduced to the US — urban myth or not — stopping by Marie Laveaus store is a requirement. Known as the Swampland, they city had the capacity to captivate hundreds of tourist to visit the Alligators and Black pigs on it’s Honey Island . What other city in the world is known for it’s vampires stories and having, probably, on of the most popular cemeteries in the US? Lafayette should also be on your list.
 What can you learn from these three examples? How can you bring your assets to the table making them your selling point, even as a female having some disadvantages in the business world?

9) WILLINGNESS TO MAKE THINGS DIFFERENTLY
Although it’s a small town Female Entrepreneurs don’t need to have a hard time. It’s on the cities’ DNA to do things differently at least once. Historically the hardship of slavery is like a dark cloud. But because every coin has two sides, has also built character and fighting for more options, finding solutions out of thin air is something it’s inhabitants know exactly how to do.

10) LIFE IS A BETA VERSION
 As a female entrepreneur New Orleans helped me seeing this through a different set of eyes. There are people everyone jamming on the streets. They test their voices and their tunes and they get money according to their performance. This is what we should be doing. Testing life and being out there checking what works so we can tweak it and improve it.

I am excited to be sharing with you some results of my research in the near future. And if you would like to know how this guide was possible keep on reading.

This guide was only possible because I have the privilege of being a YTILI fellow amongst 100 of the most Innovative Young Leaders of Europe. The German Mushall Fund and The State Department are the sponsors of this one year Fellowship that consisted of a DC 4 day meeting and a two week placement in another city so far. The final conference will be held in Berlin in 2018 and will gather the 100 European Entrepreneurs to pitch their business and exchange ideas about how to improve the Transatlantic Relationships and Cooperation.

Subscribe my newsletter to get more juicy details about female entrepreneurship between the US and European setting.


Originally published at FemLab81.

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