The Business of Fun
Meet 6 people who love what they do.
romero & romero
NAME CHANGE, JUICE SAME: Owner Melodie McMath rebrands her business from Evolve to Emerge Juicery, but sticks to the healthy principles that changed her life.
Give Lafayette’s Melodie McMath a few minutes and she’ll thoroughly explain all the ways juicing can improve the way you look, feel, think and see the world.
“This has been like, a 10-year evolutionary process,” McMath says. “And the first transformation happened within myself.”
A loyal juice disciple after she witnessing firsthand the ways in which a cleanse healed some ailments and improved her overall health, McMath has served as an enthusiastic shepherd for the juice lifestyle, easing it into a market known for its rich, flavorful and fattening cuisine
Since 2013, McMath’s Evolve Juicery has carved its niche in Lafayette, serving pressed raw fruit and vegetables concoctions out of Bibi's Patisserie on Pinhook Road and at the Lafayette Farmers Market at the Horse Farm on weekends. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $25,000, McMath plans to open her own storefront later this year. Once it's up and running, she intends to provide more menu options, including raw foods. With a laidback, no-pressure approach, McMath built up her once-skeptical customer base, and now she has a loyal following of juicers. That mission – to change longstanding bad eating habits – continues, even though McMath is renaming the business to “Emerge Juicery” this fall.
Melodie's life changed for the better when she started to drink organic juice.Here, she hams
it up with a Matcha green smoothie (with extra chlorophyl) and a raw chocolate chip cookie.
“I wanted people to evolve in mind, body and spirit when we started this, so that name fit,” McMath says. “There’s a lot of magic to truly experience out in the world, but we’re so foggy and full of toxins that it clouds much of our view and outlook of the stars and the sky and the moon. But when you get clear in your body, you’re able to detect the world around you. When you reach that point, you emerge, which is the next step.”
All of the juice pressed at Emerge is organic and free of pesticide. Bottles are made of recycled glass materials and can be returned in Emerge’s buyback program. Unused portions of fruits and vegetables are turned into compost for local farmers. McMath proudly says, “sustainability is a mindset.” Because people are particular about what they eat and drink, many curious potential customers enter Emerge with hints of trepidation. McMath suggests newbies dangle their toes in the water rather than cannonball in the pool, starting with a gradual implementation of juice into their diet.
“It’s all about figuring out where you are on your evolutionary journey,” McMath says. “If someone comes to me, and they’re (eating) Sonic and McDonald’s every day, I will actually suggest not to cut out the burger and fries, but instead of the normal drink, take a juice with you. That’s where we start. So it’s not overwhelming. It’s not a mountain to climb all at once. And once you embrace that, you’re on your way.
“Living a healthy lifestyle is just a way of showing love – showing love for yourself,” McMath continues. “It’s a way to open up and work to our full potential, and from there, you reach your full potential spiritually.”
By William Kalec
All the colors of the rainbow: Melodie McMath uses only the highest-quality,
organic ingredients with an emphasis on sustainability.
Genterie Supply Co.
THREADS COUNT: Since it opened five years ago, Genterie Supply Co. has been outfitting today’s modern Louisiana man (and the occasional woman now, too).
That shirt isn’t just a shirt. It’s a lifestyle, according to Genterie Supply Co. owner Ross Fontenot. And that lifestyle comes with a philosophy attached.
Fontenot subscribes to the belief that every great man is a great storyteller, and that our own stories are transmitted through who and what we surround ourselves. The clothes and products at Genterie, therefore, intend to be part of that story – necessary elements in penning life’s chapters for the man who carries himself with a little more pride, a little more care and a little more confidence than the rest of us.
“Our store is everything man,” Fontenot says. “And when we looked around the market, there wasn’t a place for this, but there was a need for a place like this. There are brands and products here that you won’t find in most stores. It’s a store designed for someone with particular taste.”
Tastemaker Ross sports a Life After Denim shirt, Brixton fedora hat,
Forage bowtie and a Daniel Wellington Watch. He uses a safety razor made by Baxter.
Ever since Fontenot opened shop in 2011, Genterie Supply Co., has catered to the needs and wants of complex, layered individuals – men who are equal parts rugged and refined. The interior décor reflects that. The retail floor resembles your grandfather’s study, accessorized with deer heads, dark leathers and rich, stained woods. The products for sale almost blend seamlessly into the motif of the building.
From clothing to grooming products to accessories like sunglasses and backpacks, pretty much everything in Genterie Supply Co., is impossible to find anywhere else in Acadiana. Genterie leans heavily on buying from independent manufacturers, ensuring a unique product line and shopping experience for its customers.
“There are stores similar to ours in other cities, but there’s nothing like it here,” Fontenot says. “Lafayette is probably one of the smaller towns to have this type of store, but my customer has shown me that they’re here. I generally buy pretty limited amounts, so my customers pretty much knows that when they come here, they’re going to leave with something they probably aren’t going to see over and over again when they go to dinner or go to drinks. You can go to other boutiques, but I don’t think anyone has the feel or mix that we do.”
An anchor business in Lafayette’s blooming downtown corridor, Genterie Supply Co. moved a couple blocks over this past December to a larger facility on Jefferson Street. The new digs feature an expanded floor space, which has allowed for the gradual inclusion of a few female-oriented products in addition to Genterie’s traditional masculine staples.
“I have faith in this (downtown area),” Fontenot says. “I love this area. And love this part of town. Yeah, River Ranch and some of the other retail areas are nice. There’s nothing wrong with them. But between the history and the aesthetics of downtown, it has a lot to offer. And it just fits us, and what we’re trying to convey.
“For what I was doing, it just seemed so much more organic to open up in an old building downtown rather than a development. It wouldn’t have the same charm if it wasn’t downtown.”
By William Kalec
"Racer" shave cream, "Whiskey" aftershave, "Victory" moisturizer,
and "wood" hand cream from Portland General Store in a dopp kit from Izola
Robbie Austin & Nick Villaume
Pops and Rockets
NOSTALGIA ON A STICK: What happens when ‘80s pop and glam rock serve as the inspiration behind a line of frozen desserts? Pops and Rockets in Lake Charles.
One glance at the ever-evolving menu friends and business partners Robbie Austin and Nick Villaume thought up, and a couple things become crystal-clear, quickly.
These guys sure love making pops. And these guys sure love puns.
Subscribing to the notion that even the best-tasting desserts need a hook to stand out in a competitive, oversaturated market place, Austin and Villaume – a pair of Lake Charles natives, and the co-owners of Pops and Rockets – attach a blast from music past to every frozen flavor they whip up inside their non-scientific “Pop Lab.” Each dessert is named after an 1980s band or an old song.
For instance, if you’re looking for something savory, stick a Choc Blobster pop in your mouth (an ode to the quirky B-52’s song “Rock Lobster.” Rather something fruitier and tart? Try the sweet tea/mango/cherry hybrid pop known as “Every Little Tea She Does Is Mango.” And both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar would agree that “Cran Halen” (cranberry and satsuma) is the perfect relief to the summer heat.
Business partners and good friends Robbie and Nick
created their dream business of making desserts that incorporate puns and music.
“We’re not re-inventing anything, but I think we are treading new ground for Acadiana,” Austin says. “But this isn’t the first frozen pop business, and it won’t be the last, so paying homage to the music and the times we grew up in and remain fond of is kind of our thing.
“Even though our product is top-of-the-line and we use great ingredients, in the end, you’re selling a feeling,” Austin continues. “And so that’s what we’re selling – that memory of eating treats off a stick as a kid, and reminding you of the music that might have been playing in the background when you did.”
Pops and Rockets celebrated its anniversary in July, and seems to be trending toward more exponential growth in the coming year. By the end of the summer, Austin and Villaume should be selling pops wholesale to specialty stores in and around Lake Charles and Lafayette – offering another commercial piston to the treats they sell at the Cash and Carry Farmers Market and out of the Pop Lab on Pujo Street.
“People get the concept, which was really refreshing for us,” Villaume says. “There is a place for gourmet frozen desserts in Acadiana, and that’s rung loud and true thanks to the engagement of our fans. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 years old or 50 years old, everybody always has flavor ideas and names, and we love that. It creates a buzz factor.”
As far as nuts and bolts are considered, Pops and Rockets produces 400 to 500 desserts a week, though production capacity will certainly be ramped up in the coming months to meet the demand of wholesale orders. An ample portion of the week is spent tinkering with new flavor combinations – a necessity considering how fluid the Pops and Rockets flavor list is month to month. But beyond that, Austin and Villaume spend time researching and digging into the media and music of the 1980s. In a way, Austin explains, the duo acts as amateur archivists.
“We didn’t want to let Urban Outfitters dictate what '80s culture is," Villaume says. “When we started, I said, ‘I don’t care if we sell a single pop. What we created here is so cool and so awesome that I’m proud just to have done this.’ Then, we went to the market. And in two hours we sold $700 worth of popsicles.
“Now, what I said earlier was still valid, but holy heck, it was nice to get that kind of response.”
By William Kalec
LEFT TO RIGHT: "I Cran (So Far Away)" (cranberry, lime, vanilla and ginger),
"Just Can't Mint Enough" (cantaloupe and mint), "Chicory and Ivory" (chicory coffee and cream),
"Pulling Peanuts (From A Shell)" (Thai peanut)
HAPPY SOLES: Sneaker Politics’ Derek Curry turns a footwear "obsession" into a thriving business.
Derek Curry has had NFL Players, rappers and people from around the world sport the shoes he sells and helps design at his company, Sneaker Politics.
The easygoing yet enthusiastic personality of the 32-year-old native New Iberian makes being nationally recognized and highly sought after seem like a breeze.
Curry explains his drive to open his first location back in 2006 in Lafayette, as being fueled by him being a “huge shoe nerd.”
After returning to Lafayette from a three-year stint in the military and getting serious about his finance degree, Curry started working at Sidelines while attending school.
During his time there, the shoe aficionado mourned when customers’ inquiries about shoe features were met with blank expressions.
In his mind the shoe shopping experience should be a more personalized one.
A self-described sneaker nerd, Derek's business thrives due to his knowledge
about shoes coupled with boundless enthusiasm.
Curry explains, “No one knew the product, but I used to talk to people and have a story for everything. I wanted more of that fun vibe. People come to our store and hang out for an hour sometimes, and they’ll stay in there just talking to us.”
After graduation, Curry was offered the opportunity to attend Rice University for his MBA, but turned it down to open his first store.
He says, “I did the numbers and figured out if I could sell two pairs of shoes per day I could break even, and I was like, ‘Man I could do that for sure.’ I thought it was worth the risk. The first three years were tough, but everything after that started to click.”
Although the store has had their brand sported by NFL players at press conferences and Lil Boosie frequents the Lafayette store, recognition for the brand didn’t come right away.
“The first thing that put us on the national map was when Lil Wayne had an artist that left his label and went out on his own. We started doing T-shirts for him. His name is Curren$y and he still raps today. He had a huge following, and some of those shirts did real well. That was like our first big break.”
Curry doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge the stellar team behind him that has helped make the brand a success. “Sam was my first employee who came to work with me because he would come sit for four hours on the couch just talking to me and I was like, ‘You might as well start working here.’ We’re known around the nation for our photography, and Dustin does everything in-house. Also, we designed a shoe and Lee actually came up with the idea and then we worked together to come up with exactly how it worked.”
The shoe designed by Lee Trahan was the first one released by Sneaker Politics in collaboration with a major brand.
The shoe was based on the Rougarou, a Cajun folklore of a werewolf, and the 500 pairs of $180 limited edition shoes sold out within minutes of being posted online.
For Curry, much of the joy that comes from designing and selling shoes, stems from being able to tell the story behind them.
“In my opinion the most successful shoe designer that Nike had is this guy Tinker Hatfield; he was an architect beforehand. He’s the one who made Air Max and he got all those ideas from buildings. If you know the thought process that goes behind the shoes sitting on the shelves it’s kind of cool to me. Some people grab our shoe and say they would never wear it, but they just thought the story was cool. It’s more of a collector’s thing than them putting it on their feet. They’re premium material and they’re a little different from the shoes that sit on the shelves at Foot Locker.”
Later this year the brand will be releasing a New Balance inspired by True Detective, which was filmed in Louisiana, and two Sauconies based on the Battle of New Orleans, to commemorate this year’s bicentennial. There are also plans in the works to open up another location in New Orleans later this year.
Curry says, “It’s more of a family and its fun now. It’s not just looking out for myself, anymore, it’s making sure they’re fine, too. So we’re all growing together.”
By Claire Salinas
Sneaker Politics counts rappers and NFL players among its clientele.
Feed n seed
TAKING THE SPOTLIGHT: Feed N Seed, the people’s venue
What used to be a feed store in the early 1900s has been converted to an arts venue that hosts everything from local and international bands to dance lessons and variety shows.
Feed N Seed was birthed out of owner Richard Young’s desire to have a space for all ages to perform their art.
Young explains, “I am an extremely open individual when it comes to ideas. We pretty much entertain the bulk of what comes our way as long as it doesn’t get us in trouble. We’re always looking for people who want a stage to perform on.”
Young’s vision came from his extensive exposure to the arts and his desire to bring that to the Lafayette area.
“I’ve always considered myself a dynamic person for my interest in the arts. One night my girlfriend and I could be in Houston seeing a rock concert and the next minute we could be in New Orleans watching a burlesque show. I like for our clients to come to the venue and not know what to expect. I want them to think, ‘What crazy thing is going on at The Feed N Seed tonight?’ In Manhattan you can go from one block to the next and get any form of entertainment you can dream of. I want Feed N Seed to be a venue for everybody and a venue for the people.”
The acquisition of a liquor license bumped the venue’s entrance age to 18, but all ages can still perform at the venue.
Jeanne Lousao, director of events and operations for the Feed N Seed, explained that although The Feed N Seed serves alcohol, the focus is more on the performances.
Jeanne Lousao is the director of events and operations at a repurposed warehouse
that showcases a range of interesting, artistic performances.
“I don’t want to run a place where I’m encouraging people to come drink their hearts out. I really want to run a place where people can come enjoy something unique as well as give people an opportunity to perform.”
The Feed N Seed has been open on and off since around 2010, and gone through some ownership changes, but in October of 2014 it began to operate on a consistent Thursday to Sunday schedule.
Lousao explains how far the venue has come in that short amount of time.
“I’m pretty proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in pretty much less than a year. Everything we’ve done has been through social media and word of mouth. It’s kind of been like a little hidden gem in Lafayette that not many people know about yet.”
For Lousao working at the repurposed warehouse is part of her passion for preserving the Acadian culture.
“I’ve always had this strong connection to the French culture. It’s part of my heritage, I’m French. I’m not Acadian, but we definitely adopted that culture whenever our family moved here back in the early 1800s, so it’s always been a big passion of mine. My No. 1 role model is probably my grandfather, he’s passed away now, but he was a doctor of agriculture at LSU and he was very passionate about Louisiana and preserving the state and our culture.”
When it comes to role models, Young feels he pretty much had to figure it out on his own.
“I didn’t have a lot of role models for some reason. I didn’t really have wealthy parents, and I kind of had to do it on my own. My key to success is something my brother used to always tell me, ‘Perspiration over inspiration.’ I’ve always been real scrappy. From a young age I learned to work as hard as I could until I got it. I have competitors who are smarter and wealthier than me, but I beat them time and time again because I outwork them.”
The inspiring messages on the chalkboard bathroom walls, the red plush couches and the decorative shutters gathered from throughout Acadiana all make The Feed N Seed feel like a sweet escape from reality, where things are simple, but mostly sweet.
Those interested in performing at The Feed N Seed can direct messages their Facebook page (search for Feed N Seed Lafayette) to pitch ideas.
By Claire Salinas
Feed N Seed serves alcohol, but the real focus is on its artistic performances.