In July 2015, New Orleans was ranked #1 in America for creative professionals, beating out 175 other major cities. The Big Easy also ranks highly for entrepreneurial activity and growth, and was most recently ranked the #7 city for women in technology.
With the great number of female entrepreneurs in New Orleans, we thought we’d ask them to share their best advice. They mention mentors, being brave and confident, and much more.
Australian-born advertising industry veteran Samantha Brooks has worked in large international agencies, smaller family-owned agencies and everything in between. Working in almost every department within an ad agency over the span of her 16 year career, Sam has become a veritable Swiss Army Knife of advertising knowledge. She now works for the startup agency RapJab in New Orleans.
“Along your professional path, you accumulate these people that rise to the top for reasons you can’t always explain,” explains Brooks. “These people are your mentors, your personal brand’s champions. They are people that ground you, encourage you, and impart wisdom about life, love, passion and happiness. You may not realize it at the time but they will become your most important resource for strength and advice as you chisel at your career over the years. You may not even know exactly where you’re going when you start but there will be moments with remarkable people along the way that will help you define and shape who you become both professionally and personally. Nurture and draw upon those relationships for the rest of your life. You’ll be glad you did.”
McKenzie Coco is the President of FSC Interactive, an online marketing company founded in New Orleans in 2007. She is active on a variety of boards and committees and believes it is important to give back to the community.
Coco’s advice is simple and effective. “Don’t be afraid to be first, take risks or venture into the unknown,” she shares. “Some of the greatest rewards take the greatest risk. Be smart and try to prepare yourself for change and challenge at every turn. Some of the most intimidating decisions have led me to the most exciting and successful outcomes. Be brave!”
Dominique Ellis is a publicist and marketing director for young brands, creatives, non-profits and the artistic endeavors. Based in New Orleans, her skills and passions serve clients throughout the country. For more on her work visit dominiqueellispr.com.
“At this point in my career I’ve gone from working in-house for others, to being a freelancer, to a partner, to finally going out on my own,” Ellis explains. She says her biggest struggle she has had has also been her best discovery and it can be summed up in one statement – “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. This holds true in so many aspects of my work life – from choosing which contractors to work with to streamlining a campaign plan.”
“Over the years I’ve gained a lot of valuable experiences and had the opportunity to broaden my skill set considerably. I’ve worked with all types of clients and companies and served more roles than I can count, from copywriter to project manager. Sure, it’s nice to know you can do many different things at any given time but in the end, I’ve found that my business succeeds and is able to grow more responsibly when I sit back and ask myself “do I actually want to do this?” I like to think of myself as a fixer. I love nothing more than the initial process of sitting down with a new client and hearing their struggles. My mind starts whirling and before you know it, I’ve worked up more ideas and campaigns than I sometimes feasibly have time to complete (or worse, than the client has money to fund). At some point, your heart can’t be in it if you’re stretched too thin. Editing is crucial. Take a step back, see where you’re most able to make an impact and move forward. Realizing that it’s ok to not act on every idea I have has been essential in allowing me to grow my business sustainably.”
Andrea Hernandez is a Honduran born entrepreneur now living in New Orleans. She is Northeastern graduate and picnic enthusiast who went on to launch Merienda Picnic, which provides highly curated picnics full of locally sourced foods delivered on demand. Hernandez is currently obsessed with all things New Orleans.
Hernandez says the best advice she has learned was to just do it. “When you’re young, there are less risks that you take when starting a business. I was told that I could always make up for money lost but you cannot make for time lost! My advice would be to be confident in your abilities, no matter how young you are and don’t be afraid of asking for help and advice from others! You’d be surprised how much other entrepreneurs are willing to help out!”
The 2015 Silicon Bayou 100 is made possible by sponsors 365 Connect, a leading provider of award-