Monday, April 28, 2014

"Jambalaya Girl" Kristen Preau Visits University of New Orleans Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program

Jambalaya Girl Kristen Preau Visits University of New Orleans Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program.Jambalaya Girl Kristen Preau Visits University of New Orleans Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleanian Kristen Preau took to the streets. She travelled the country cooking up jambalaya at college tailgates in an effort to raise money for her fair city.

This month, Preau visited the University of New Orleans Entrepreneurship in Residence Program, where she told students how she used her father's jambalaya pots and famous recipe, first to raise more than $100,000 for relief efforts, then to create a thriving business: Cook Me Somethin' Mister Jambalaya Rice.

The Entrepreneurship-in-Residence program brought a leading area entrepreneur to UNO every semester prior to Hurricane Katrina, said UNO Management Professor Ken Lacho. Preau's April 10 visit to UNO to speak to the College of Business Administration's Department of Management Entrepreneurship program and the Student Chapter of the American Marketing Association marks the first time in eight years the EIR program has been on campus.

Preau, a graduate of St. Mary's Dominican High School and the University of Southern Mississippi, has cooked jambalaya with her Dad since she was tall enough to stand next to his cast iron pot at her brother's ball games and events around the city, she told students. When she evacuated to Louisville, Ky. following Hurricane Katrina, she found the perfect way to remember and help her home. Seeing the wild success of her father's recipe around the country got her thinking: "Could I turn this into a business?"

She has since earned the title of New Orleans' own "Jambalaya Girl" and an image of Kristen wearing her signature
fork earrings is now printed on hundreds of thousands of bags of Cook Me Somethin' Mister Jambalaya Rice.

The woman who declared her objective on her resume in college "to represent a company that promotes the City of New Orleans" never in her wildest dreams imagined she that she would be representing her own brand, said Preau in a press release.

Her first investment in her business was from her earnings as one of the creators of The Black & Gold Super Fans Calendar 2010, Preau told students. She secured her first sale with Breaux Mart by meeting with Jay Breaux and promising a promotion and local news TV appearance for her donation to Zoo‐To‐Do, she said. She delivered the product herself and negotiated placement on the shelf. To date, Preau has closed all sales, including a Sam's Club deal where she travelled to Bentonville, Ark. to make the pitch, according to her bio.

Preau previously worked as a sales manager for Jack and Jake's local produce distributor; a business development manager at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple Architects and Zehnder Communications; a sales representative for UNO Athletics; an editorial assistant for Southern Miss Alumni Association; and an intern at the Louisiana Mercedes-Benz Superdome, she said.

A high school job masquerading as Ms. ImaDilla of the Swamp Critters at Jazzland, one of the park's themed costume characters, helped prepare her for her "character" role as Jambalaya Girl.

The UNO Entrepreneurship-in-Residence Program has brought a variety of leading entrepreneurs to campus, said Preau. Past visitors include: acclaimed Creole chef Leah Chase; Phyliss Jordan, former owner of PJs Coffee; Ronnie Robert, owner of Robert Refrigeration; Barry Edwards of Gobert Enterprises Inc.; David Guidry of Guico Machine Works; Garey Alimia of A-1 Appliance; Gary Solomon of First Bank and Trust; John Hughes of the Pres Coleman Foundation in Chicago and entrepreneurs Julie Rodriguez, chief executive officer of EPIC Enterprises, Inc; Ruth Ann Menutis and PK Scheerle, owner of RN and Associates and chairwoman and CEO of Gifted Nurses.


Read More

Department of Management
Cook Me Somethin' Mister
Jambalaya Girl at New Orleans' French Market