"I’ve always wanted to represent a company that promotes New Orleans culture, and it’s surreal to fulfill this role in my own company. I am grateful for the staff at LSBDC. I would not be where I am today without them." After Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, Kristen Preau and her father started a tailgating fundraiser to raise money for the city's rebuilding efforts. After the pair traveled around the country selling their homemade Jambalaya, Kristen and her dad raised over $100,000 for the University of New Orleans Hurricane relief. With that success in mind, Preau decided to start her own business and packaged the jambalaya recipe into a rice mix. Preau came to the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Greater New Orleans and Bayou Region (LSBDC GNOBR) in 2010 initially to gather assistance with her business plan in order to qualify for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.
With her dad’s business, ADGAS Outdoor Cooking Products, in a flux Preau wanted to boost it and start her own. ADGAS Outdoor Cooking Products was able to restructure the existing business and reposition itself for growth, as well as launch a new business - Cook Me Somethin’ Mister, and a new line of products. The LSBDC assisted Preau in starting Cook Me Somethin’ Mister in 2010, and later assisted her in obtaining loans to grow the business, assistance developing her website, assistance in developing and implementing her growth strategy, and assistance with international market distribution, marketing and sales, and additional entrepreneurial training. Preau worked with LSBDC expert and food industry consultant Dianne Sclafani to turn her business into a growing food brand, known now on a national level.
“I’ve always wanted to represent a company that promotes New Orleans culture, and it’s surreal to fulfill this role in my own company,” Preau said, owner of Cook Me Somethin’ Mister. “I am grateful for the staff at LSBDC. I would not be where I am today without them.” Through the assistance of the LSBDC, Preau took advantage of a Louisiana Economic Development State Trade and Export Promotions (STEP) grant program in 2012. “The LSBDC provided a wealth of guidance and resources for restructuring a 30-year-old business,” Preau said. “They helped us craft a clear plan for the growth of two new product lines and the development of a new business. We took advantage of the group classes, one-on-one counseling and the website marketing program.” She has been named a Top 100 Small Businesses Blue Ribbon Award, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Top Woman Owned Business, by the Louisiana SBA; and Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Role Model of the Year by WBEC South. “Kristen Preau is a true champion for women owned businesses. She is all in,” Sclafani said. Preau started her business with a $50,000 SBA Loan, invested all of her savings, cashed in her retirement, borrowed money from the bank and family, factored invoices and even put her 2002 Honda Civic up as collateral. Her SBA Loan is now paid in full and she has successfully built the foundation of her business and has reached the turning point for growth.
In 2013, the LSBDC assisted Preau in obtaining a line of credit of $50,000 and refinancing an existing loan. In 2013 she also secured distribution in Sam’s, resulting in an initial $184,000 order. As a result of her hard work and the assistance provided by the LSBDC GNOR, Preau won second place and $10,000 in the 2013 Capital One Greaux GNO business growth competition, co-sponsored by LSBDC. After four years in business, she has almost doubled her revenue each year. Kristen will also graduate from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program in February and will even be an ideal candidate for another round of SBA financing with her new growth plan to increase jobs, revenue and distribution. “Kristen is not only an ambassador for women owned businesses, but she also embodies the spirit of Louisiana as the ‘Jambalaya Girl’ bringing her southern charm and family recipes to customers across the world,” Sclafani said.