27 Mar NOLA BOARDS: NOLABA Small Business Spotlight

NOLA BOARDSNOLABA connects New Orleanians with the support and resources they need to achieve economic prosperity. This includes providing information for small businesses like local resource providers and certification opportunities. In a series of small business spotlights, we’re highlighting New Orleans business owners who use these resources to grow their businesses in the city. NOLA BOARDS, a homegrown, handcrafted cutting board, countertop and custom furniture business, opened in the French Quarter in 2014, and owner Mandy Simpson explains how New Orleans’ small business ecosystem is helping her grow and expand NOLA BOARDS.

NOLABA: Why did you choose New Orleans to open your small business?

“New Orleans really chose us! I was born and raised in New Orleans, and my husband landed here by chance in his 20s after serving in the Navy. He fell in love with the city and never left. New Orleans is known for cooking and for the arts, and we combine those two things in our products. We hope to put New Orleans on the map for the tools we use to cook with as well!”

NOLABA: What small business resources in New Orleans have helped in your growth?

“It’s truly amazing how many resources are out there for small businesses here. Some major players for us have been the Capital One Getting Down to Business Program, Goldman Sachs 10,0000 Small Businesses, Louisiana Economic Development, Lift Fund, and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center. There are also many small business networking groups such as the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) that provide invaluable resources and education as well.”

NOLABA: What are your goals for your business moving forward?

“We are excited to be looking at prospects for new storefront locations as well as expanding the butcher block island and countertop division of our company. Our product line has really expanded, and we are hoping to have a larger space to show the bigger items that we make like kitchen islands and dining room tables.”

NOLABA: How have our local small business resource providers helped you get to where you are now?

“The resources I mentioned have really helped me to lay the foundation of where we are now and have given me a guide to move forward into the future. They have helped me set goals and stick to them, as well as provided education and access to funding that has truly set me on a positive path for continued growth.”

NOLABA: What future improvements in New Orleans’ small business ecosystem would you like to see to help move your business forward?

“I would like to see continued access to financial support through the local lenders in all categories to help move business forward in general.”

NOLABA: What advice do you have for other small business owners or aspiring business owners?

“Your gut feeling is everything. You are constantly having to make big and small decisions, sometimes without having the time you really need to process the information. If your gut tells you it’s right, then it probably is.  When you get bogged down with the day to day, remember to do at least one thing each day that will move your business in a forward direction. Also, remember to just breathe. It can sometimes feel very overwhelming especially being the person at the helm of the ship, so on those days you have to take a moment to focus on yourself.”