While we celebrate the winners and participants of the 2019 WE Fellowship and pitch competition, it’s always a pleasure to catch up with our distinguished alumnae who generously offered time from their busy schedules for an update since winning their time as WE Fellows.
Both the inaugural 2016 winners, Nicole Eiden and Marielle Dupré of Windowsill Pies, and 2017 winner Two Girls One Shuck, have particularly special memories of their last several years working with the JLNO.
“First, we want say how special we feel to have been the inaugural winners of the WE Fellowship. 2016 was a big year for us. Soon after winning the Fellowship, we were approached by the Cooking Channel to be on a show called Sugar Showdown, a pie baking competition. We were apprehensive because we had never done anything like that before. Still, we jumped in with both feet and ended up winning, which was amazing! We were also featured as one of New Orleans Magazine’s 2016 “People to Watch.” Winning the Fellowship launched us on a media frenzy that grew our business and brand awareness.
After that, we grew steadily. This year, we won a competition hosted by the Broadway musical Waitress. They hosted a pie baking competition when they were in New Orleans, named us “The Official Pie of Waitress New Orleans,” and put the recipe for our winning Lazy Summer Strawberry and Cream Pie in the cookbook they were selling. Supplying French Truck Coffee Shop with hand pies has also kept us very busy!
At the end of last year, we were featured in a two-page Food and Wine magazine spread that described us as the New Orleans pie shop trying to do good things in the community through pie. Through that feature, we have been approached to publish a cookbook.
The two main goals we attained from the Fellowship structure were our trademark and our website. The pro bono hours allowed us to get the trademark that would have otherwise been difficult to navigate and afford. The trademark has been essential, as other businesses around the country have attempted to use our name. The technology grant helped us get our online shopping site up and running and provided us with a site that is both visually interesting and user-friendly enough to operate ourselves.
We’re currently working on the proposal for our cookbook and finding a new shop location in Uptown. Both will help define us as business owners in the community, and we want to fully capitalize on all the amazing media attention we have received.
Future Fellowship applicants should know it is so important to focus on the core product your business delivers and to let a good product speak for itself. Also, have fun with your pitch and really let your personality shine through.”
Two Girls One Shuck
“Two Girls One Shuck has had several exciting developments since my time as WE Fellow in 2017. We have increased our mighty army of lady shuckers to two dozen and growing. We moved our catering operations to The Old Ironworks in Bywater (across from Pizza Delicious) and started a new cold seafood product line that can be added to your oyster bar experience. Think chilled shrimp, ceviche, fish dip, crab claws and caviar, just to name a few!
Being a part of the WE Fellowship experience helped me better understand there was a real, viable market for my company’s services. We had so much support and interest in our work from the Junior League, and this gave us incredible exposure to people who may not have heard of us beforehand. I was given some incredible business mentorship from a few of my WE Fellow committee members. The grant component of my Fellowship, in both financial help and in-kind services, was a priceless addition to the already robust gift the Fellowship was in general.
The question I ask myself everyday is: What’s next for Two Girls One Shuck? We are dabbling in small group private shucking lessons, which are a blast! Think Paint and Sip-style experience, only with oysters — learning how to open them via oyster education and a whole lot of laughs. We have a line of merchandise we hope to get off the ground this summer, as people seem to want items that have our logo. I am always looking to expand into nearby cities, but for now we are shuckin’ and jivin’ all over southern Louisiana as one of the premier traveling oyster bars in the South. We have great reasons to “shellebrate” everyday. (I had to sneak at least one oyster pun in there!)
I would tell future business owners to get three-to-four years deep into your product or concept before trying to pitch for the WE Fellowship. There is so much that changes in the infancy of a business. We really started to solidify our goals and direction in year three, and I was lucky enough to have the Fellowship fall in line with my trajectory. I would also recommend having specific goals to present to Junior League. The committee and the entire community can best serve you if you know exactly how and where you need help. Make a realistic growth plan, and lay out two or three significant goals for the year. Time goes faster than you think. The one year of my Fellowship flew by quickly, but I feel great about everything I was able to accomplish with JLNO. I feel like I still have continued support from the Junior League and can call on friendships and relationships that were built during my Fellowship. That’s a constant win for someone like me, who is a first-time business owner and riding this crazy journey like wildfire!”
JLNO is incredibly proud of and amazed by the shining successes of WE Fellowship participants. It is exciting to see who the next class of businesswomen will be and where WE will go next.