These ladies did the unthinkable and not only started a business during the covid pandemic, but they are open, thriving and making moves with their businesses while navigating through what still feels like much uncertainty.
It is such an honor and privilege to share their stories with all of you! I won’t keep you guys long because I want you to get to the good stuff!
Hello, there! My name is Meagan Gonzales, and I’m a self-taught artist from Louisiana. I currently live in Houston, TX. Acrylic and watercolor paints are the mediums I use, and my canvases include stretched fabric, watercolor paper, glass, plexiglass, wood, and more! Art is my escape from the world, where I can lose myself in each painting I create. Just as it encapsulates me, my hope is that my work does the same for my clients and followers. What started out as a hobby quickly became a passion. I’ve always been known to doodle on anything I could get my hands on, and those doodles grew. Being in a sorority, I began painting big/little week items, such as cups, cork boards, and boxes. Word got around about my work, and I slowly started gaining more and more customers. I decided to make an Instagram for my art in January 2020, where I continued to prosper.
When COVID-19 hit, I was in the last semester of my MBA program. We were quarantined, and I decided if I was going to be stuck at home, I was going to learn more… about art not school (oops). My motivation was realistic goalsI set to learn something new every week. I began watching Youtube videos and a lot of them. I wanted to learn different styles and techniques to increase my portfolio and become a better artist. Doing this ignited a flame in me that I believed would go away over time.
Flash forward to May of 2020, the month I graduated with my MBA. My boyfriend and I decided we were going to move to Texas to experience a new place and have more job opportunities. The joke was on me- I couldn’t find a job. While I was job searching, I knew it was the perfect time to put my all into my art business. I started learning more about content, social media, website building, and all of the other cool marketing terms. I stayed motivated by reminding myself that my work was making a difference and bringing people happiness. It took me 8 months to find a full-time position, and within the first month, I knew that the 8-5 desk job was not for me- my business was. I listened to motivating podcasts that opened my eyes to following my dreams and making the most of the one life we get. A quote that stuck out was, “Run every decision, big or small, through this filter: Does this support the life I am trying to create for myself?”
Three months later, I decided to take the leap. I am now a full-time artist whose journey is just beginning! I am so excited to be doing something I truly love that I believe adds joy to the world. I can’t wait to see where this road takes me, and I hope you follow along on this crazy ride!
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My name is Macy Rodrigue, I am 22 years old, and I am the owner/founder of White Oak Boutique. Actually, White Oak’s beginning is quite the story. After graduating from South Lafourche High School, I began my journey at Nicholls to become (after changing majors three times) a secondary science teacher. During my time at Nicholls, your girl needed to make some money. After realizing the food industry was not for me (if it is, serious props), I worked at a couple of Thibodaux-local boutiques where there was a real spark inside. I fell in love with helping women with their style and confidence! I wasn’t always (and still am not) the most fashionable, trendy person when it comes to clothes. But through my experience in helping other women with style and confidence, I found that that wasn’t even the most important thing. It was something that I truly loved to do.
It was the end of Summer 2020 and it was time for the “student-teaching” part of becoming a teacher. Time to move back down the bayou. It was also time to find another way to make money until I graduated! The lightbulb went off. I thought of a way to ~semi-passively~ make some pocket change while I was student teaching. I would create an online boutique! At this time, people are already used to social distancing, and many of us have become accustomed to online shopping (some of us even prefer it now). But really, Macy? It couldn’t be at a worse time in my life. I was in the process of buying a house with my fiance, planning my wedding for November 2020, AND student-teaching. Not to mention, the world was smack dab in the middle of the COVID pandemic. I decided that I would chase this small dream of mine despite the pile of things constantly weighing on my shoulders, and boy am I glad I did.
I’ll be honest, it took a couple months of preparation. Almost all of it was done online and most of it was a foreign language to me. I spent so many hours staring at my computer screen to get this store up and legally running. I wouldn’t be surprised if my eyes have permanent damage from screen time during this pandemic! Not to mention the hoops that needed to be jumped through to get something like this done during COVID!
Fast-forward to September 5th, launch day! After a few months of preparation, getting the word out and creating some buzz, I was feeling all of the feelings. Are people gonna shop? Are they excited? What if they don’t like my style? What if literally no one cares? Is this a waste of my time and money? Omg. I clicked the button and my little online store went live! It ended up being one of the best things I ever did.
I’m so proud to say that as of May 8th, 2021, White Oak Boutique has its very own tiny storefront in Larose, LA. This venture has been nothing short of a dream, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me! If you’re thinking about starting something new, whether it be a business, a new lifestyle, just soak up the amazing stories that these women have to tell. If we can become literal bosses during a global pandemic, you shouldn’t let anything stop you in life. I hope this inspires you to do something amazing!
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Hi! Reesa & TerriLynn here, founders of Haven Flower Farm! We are “farmer-florists” – a term used to describe those who specialize in both growing and designing with seasonal flowers! Located in Lockport, LA we strive to grow authentic, specialty cut flowers to share with our local community.
Our flower journey began in Spring 2020, right when the peak of the COVID pandemic was introduced to our area. Our business all started with a google search on how to grow a specific flower for our landscaping. The first article that popped up was the world famous farmer-florist’s website, Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers. Intrigued by the aesthetics we dug a little deeper and discovered the wild world of flower farming. After a few months of research we started our social media pages, turned our idea into an LLC, and headed down the path of flowers all while the COVID pandemic was swarming around us.
Shortly after we began Lafourche Parish began to shut down schools and businesses. They introduced curfews and implemented restrictions to keep people socially distanced and safe. People began wearing masks and stopped visiting their loved ones; our world was drastically changing. As the days went by we watched the number of diagnoses rise and the death tolls increase at a shocking rate. We were all scared. TerriLynn and I used our time at home to work in our garden. We tilled our hard, clay soil and introduced fresh, nutritionally rich soil to begin changing the consistency. We sowed thousands of seeds, manually formed our rows, read and researched, gained our Florist License, and kept investing our time into our business.
Our garden became our save haven away from the havoc that COVID had caused. As the pandemic progressed and lingered, people were in solitude. We were all looking for an outlet to reach one another and say, “We are still here.” In August our garden was popping with flowers: Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos, etc. This is when we introduced our bundles, which are our wrapped garden style bouquets. We began selling them through our social media page and the frenzy began. Each week we continued to sell out of our flowers. Things really took off and that’s how the Haven Flower Farm blossomed into who we are today. As we reflect back on that time it’s evident that our community was trying to find the light at the end of the COVID tunnel. We know that our flowers brought happiness and light into the lives of our community and that is the most rewarding feeling.
In March of 2020 I was navigating moving away from the only place I knew as home and landing in Houma, Louisiana with my husband, a Houma native, while anticipating the birth of our first child. After a wild, quick decision to pack up our first home in Ascension Parish in just a few days due to progression in my pregnancy we made the call and stayed with my in-laws while our temporary living situation was being finished.
We moved into the space a week or so later and on night four, I went into labor and shortly after we welcomed our daughter Bobbie Joan! A week after the birth of our little girl, the world turned upside down. In the midst of navigating a new way of living, in a new town, with a new baby, in a new body, the world took on a new “normal” that was anything but that.
Prior to becoming a mom and wife, I was a collegiate softball player for LSU and after played professionally for three seasons. I am used to World Series energy, high-intensity training, ESPN, travel, and camaraderie. I shifted from elite athlete to staying home 24/7 with a new born. It was challenging and I knew the newborn stage was going to take a lot of grace, but I didn’t think it would be in isolation away from the world and unable to have in-person support from most others beside my husband. It was not the conventional new mom experience, but I gritted through it. In that time I was thinking about how I was going to be able to enjoy and impact my new town, I have always been someone who likes to be involved to elevate whatever setting I am in so this was no different. I sat back and looked at my own personal needs and struggles and thought about what the community could also use given the way of the world.
Community, whole health + wellness, and some excitement were my focus. The summer of 2020 I toyed with the idea of opening an inviting, fun space that focused on health while serving foods and drinks that were nourishing and tasted really good. Understanding food as fuel came as I developed in my career and I understood the importance of it for not only for athletes but for everyone. While traveling for softball I would always seek out places like this in whatever town or city I was visiting and noted that there were none in the vicinity of where we lived. So in my mind I started building, thinking, crafting and putting together what would be C’est Bon.
Our southern Louisiana culture has a special spice to it and place in my heart so it was important to me to include allusions to it in the business brand. C’est Bon translates from French to English as “it’s good” which is the cornerstone of the business. Serving what’s good, that tastes good, looks good, made from good quality ingredients, and is actually good for you! After searching for the right place, I came across our location and signed the lease in September of 2020. In true fashion around that time my husband and I fell upon the perfect more permanent home for our family and started the moving process (again) in only a few short months.
Between packing, raising a baby, still navigating the pandemic, and moving, the ground work was laid for C’est Bon. Branding, logos, recipes, menu items, legality, health requirements, equipment, everything was being built from the ground up. I wish I could tell you I had nothing but support from those around me but that was not the case, nothing like this had ever existed in the area so it was a gamble as to if it would work and people would support it. I knew, I believed, and had the peace that this is where I was supposed to be. I knew the community was craving the same things I was and had confidence that once people learned of and tried our menu they would love not only the taste, but how it made them feel.
November 2, 2020 our doors opened to the community for the first time and we got an overwhelming response and confirmation that our community was wanting and needing exactly what C’est Bon provided, truly healthy options that did not sacrifice nutrition for taste. Since that time we have been able to build a clientele that knows when they stop in, it’s going to brighten their day. We have provided employment opportunities for a handful of people in our community. Most of all, we have given people the opportunity and resources to better themselves by fueling themselves with whole nutritious foods. C’est Bon, it’s good y’all!
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Melanie Boudreaux, born and raised in Houma, Louisiana. She is an alumnus (twice) from Nicholls State University, and she is currently attending the University of South Alabama working on her PhD in Business Management. She teaches Human Resource Management classes at Nicholls and has been teaching full time at Nicholls since she was 24 years old. She is also the Human Resources Director for ES&H with multiple locations around the gulf coast area.
Melanie explains how her business, Brushed By Boudreaux, came about:
When COVID hit, everything went virtual, and my twins were now being homeschooled by me. My Nicholls courses all went online. However, we needed a break; we needed an outlet. So, I purchased some painting supplies on Amazon and started painting on my back patio with my six-year-old twins. I have never taken a painting class before in my life…. I started painting religious paintings, and it turned into a business. It has been my therapy. I posted a few of my painting pictures online, and Brushed By Boudreaux took off!
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