Welcome to Southern Flair by Leslie Presnal, a Louisiana lifestyle blog based out of Baton Rouge! If you share my passion for Louisiana lifestyle and local love, then you're in the right spot! It is all about helping you live your BEST life right
My cooking skills range from putting a frozen pizza in the oven to whipping up some jambalaya straight from the box. But over the past year I’ve been working with local cooking instructor Lili Courtney (we met through our mutual friend Chelsey at Sosis!), so Lili has been getting me out of my comfort zone. So far out of my comfort zone that I agreed to cook LIVE with her on Facebook a couple weeks ago where she taught me the BEST summer salad recipe! You can watch our video here.
Lili is known for teaching trendy and seasonal recipes, so she taught me how to make this incredible Grilled Zucchini & Farro Salad with Basil Vinaigrette! The recipe is below — it’s a 3-for-1 because Lili’s sharing the recipes for the Basil Vinaigrette, the Slow Roasted Tomatoes and the Zucchini & Farro Salad!
Grilled Zucchini & Farro Salad with Basil Vinaigrette:
1 cup cooked farro (Lili got hers at Trader Joe’s)
Sea Salt + Pepper
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup cubed feta cheese
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup green beans, blanched and cut in half
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, chives, basil, tarragon)
3 zucchini or yellow summer squash, halved
1/2 cup basil vinaigrette (recipe below)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the farro according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the farro and toss with 2 tbsp basil vinaigrette (recipe below). Stir in the feta, green beans, herbs and tomatoes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat. Toss the zucchini with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill 3-5 minutes per side or until light char marks appear.
Arrange the zucchini on a platter and brush evenly with basil vinaigrette. Spoon the farro salad over the zucchini. Serve warm or at room temperature.
2 cups packed basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced shallot
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup basil extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the ingredients in a blend or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Note: Vinaigrette will keep in a jar or container in the fridge for 5 days.
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
8 oz package cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Handful fresh basil
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/4 cup cinnamon pear balsamic
1/4 cup basil extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Place all ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish. Bake, covered, in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue cooking for 1-1.5 hours until caramelized around the edges and the liquid is reduced and beginning to turn to a jam-like consistency.
Store in the fridge for up the 3 weeks. Use as a topping for seafood or chicken. It’s excellent on bruschetta, and fantastic with shrimp and grits, over polenta or to top risotto! We like it jammy and chunky, but it can be pureed and used as a tomato sauce too.
Cooking With Lili:
If you want to get in the kitchen with Lili, you’ve got options! She teaches here locally in Baton Rouge at Red Stick Spice and now Williams-Sonoma at the Mall of Louisiana. She’s also in Covington and New Orleans at Simplee Gourmet.
You can see all Lili’s upcoming classes here. **And fair warning: jump on any small plates, cast iron or instant pot classes! Those fill up fast.
Lili also teaches “In The Neighborhood” classes out of her home kitchen. She demos, shares the recipes with you and you get to eat everything! We booked her for one of our Happy Hour Club events this spring, and it was SO much fun. I’ll sit, watch, learn and let someone cook for me any day! These are great for Girls Night Out or a bridal party or even a work party. You can contact her here if you want your own “In The Neighborhood” party! You bring your friends and Lili takes care of the rest!
HUGE thank you to Lili for sharing her recipes with us today and for always teaching me something new in the kitchen. Plus, she’s giving us fun things to do here in Baton Rouge, so THAT I am so thankful for! Visit her website here: Kitchen Confidence With Lili
Two things – (1) You know we get amped up for anything new in Baton Rouge, so get ready! (2) You also know we lack healthier food options…. because well, it’s South Louisiana. So the double good news is we have a brand new Sprouts Farmers Market opening this month on Perkins Road, near College Drive!
They’re opening June 26, 2019, so save the date!
I’ll be sharing a few posts about the new Sprouts location, so in my research I’ve really learned one thing — Sprouts is a different type of grocery store. They care about your healthy journey, they care about the environment and they care about your wallet.
Mainly, Sprouts is all about a healthy living approach — for less. (it keeps getting better, right?)
But first things first — Sprouts has everything you’d need for your grocery shopping trip, like fresh produce, meat and seafood, bulk foods, vitamins and supplements, packaged groceries, baked goods, dairy products, frozen foods, natural body care and even household items.
So what makes it sooo special, and why should you be making your shopping list asap?
Here are 5 reasons your healthy self will LOVE the new Baton Rouge Sprouts!1- The Prices
Sprouts is a healthy grocery store with fresh, natural and organic foods at great prices. In fact, their produce prices are on average 20-25% below other supermarkets. They also have tons of ways to help you save money like apps, coupons, etc. Their mission is to make healthy eating more affordable, not a luxury.
2- Natural & Organic Products
Sprouts will have around 19,000 products — with 90% of those being natural or organic.
Sooo what about the other 10 percent? Those products cater to the more mainstream shopper who may just be getting into exploring healthy eating options. Basically, it’s a good way to ease into navigating the healthier foods.
3- The Vitamin & Body Care Department
This section has more than 7,500 products — an assortment featuring sustainable and ethically-sourced ingredients.
They have a huge selection of multivitamins, omega-rich oils, probiotics, superfoods, herbal remedies, sports nutrition and more. And in their body care section, you’ll find natural hair, face and sun care, plus cosmetics, soaps, salts, scrubs and aromatherapy products.
4- The Butcher Shop
You can enjoy meat cut in-house by trained butchers who grind more than 20 varieties of sausage daily and can custom cut anything to your liking. With smart buying and high volume, Sprouts offers all-natural, never frozen, grass-fed and USDA choice beef, chicken and pork — at affordable prices.
If you haven’t noticed, Sprouts focuses a lot on the environment and product quality. Sprouts is committed to eliminating waste and fighting hunger through their “Zero Waste” goal. They repurpose food and other recyclables to provide food for those in need, feed for animals or as nutrients for agricultural soil. You can read more about their sustainability and product sourcing here.
Today’s post was sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market! You can visit their website here. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Southern Flair!
Barre3 is hosting a FREE community workout class at Perkins Rowe every Saturday during June! |More Info
Sunday, June 2
Barbosa’s Barbecue will be slaying some briskets to celebrate their 3 year anniversary at the Overpass Merchant from 5:30PM to 8:30PM. Plus, they’ll have trivia! | More Info
Monday, June 3
First, DONUTS! Because it’s National Donut Day!
Bistro Byronz on Government Street is hosting a Fundraising Night for Second Chance Dog Rescue. Starting at 5PM, dine in and 20% of your check will go to this cause! | More Info
I’m hosting another free LIVE webinar 7 Tricks To Stick To Your Plan & Reach Your Biggest Goals – Even When You Don’t Feel Like It! Save your virtual spot HERE!
Tuesday, June 4
Reginelli’s Pizza is hosting a Nickelodeon Trivia Night from 6PM to 9PM! | More Info
Wednesday, June 5
It’s Global Running Day! The Varsity Sports + Lululemon Baton Rouge are giving you TWO different runs today — one at sunrise (6AM) and one at sunset (5:30PM). Plus, I hear beer and mimosas are involved! | More Info
Thursday, June 6
I’m hosting another free LIVE webinar 7 Tricks To Stick To Your Plan & Reach Your Biggest Goals – Even When You Don’t Feel Like It! Save your virtual spot HERE!
The Southern Flair Happy Hour Club is headed to Mid-City this month! Rocca Pizzeria will be extending happy hour for our group! ALL the details for our monthly meet-ups are shared in our closed FB group. Join us HERE!
Friday, June 7
It’s Family Friday at Tin Roof Brewing Company! There’s beer (for you) and bouncy houses, face painting and ice cream for the kids from 5-9PM. | More Info
Don’t forget, Barre3 is hosting a FREE community workout class at Perkins Rowe every Saturday during June! |More Info
Join the Power Pump Girls at their first STRIKE Workshop at Cinemark Perkins Rowe from 8AM to 12PM! Brand strategy expert Olivia Christian will be there to coach you through the methodology for crafting a personal brand story. | More Info
Head back to Tin Roof for the 3rd annual FUNK FEST! Spend your Saturday with live music + local beer. | More Info
Sunday, June 9
Baton Rouge Succulent Co is hosting a Windowsill Garden Workshop from 11AM to 1PM. Your ticket includes all you need for gardening, and pots and plants. | More Info
Monday, June 10
Up your cupcake decorating skills at the Cupcake Class with Party Time Baton Rouge! It’s happening from 6-8PM. | More Info
Tuesday, June 11
Ok, busy brides… Ashford-Hailey Studios hosting The Bridal Sip and Social for any questions about your wedding! Listen to experts, network and sip champagne. | More Info
Wednesday, June 12
It’s Wine Down Wednesday at White Star Market! Treat yo’self to $5 glasses of wine from 3PM – close. | More Info
Thursday, June 13
Club Pilates at Citiplace is celebrating their Soft Opening! Get new member promos, retail discounts and take a complimentary intro class. | More Info
Friday, June 14
Celebrate the US Army’s 244th Birthday at Perkins Rowe. Rock the Rowe with Carbon Copy kicks off at 6PM. They’ll have military vehicles, face painting, Army reenactors, and of course birthday cake! | More Info
Saturday, June 15
The 2nd annual Summer Shop Hop is happening ALL DAY LONG at local boutiques! Shop at Sosis, Chattabox, Vertage, Moxi, Article & Thread… just to name a few! Enjoy special sales, treats and pop-ups in each store. Plus, the more you visit, the higher your chances of winning a $100 gift card to a boutique of your choice! | More Info
Sunday, June 16
Happy Father’s Day! BRQ Seafood + BBQ is hosting a Father’s Day Brunch from 10AM – 3PM. You can find dishes like The Old Man Omelet, Dad’s BBQ Platter, Cowboy Steak and Eggs on the menu! | More Info
Monday, June 17
Companion Animal Alliance wants you to come DATE A DOG. If you’re looking for ways to volunteer or get more involved (without committing to adoption), then def check out this event! | More Info
Tuesday, June 18
Happy Sushi Day! Did you know Rouses’s has $5 sushi on Tuesday?!
Speaking of Rouses, they’re hosting a Heart Healthy Dietition Shop Along at 10:30AM and 2PM today. This tour includes a look at produce, meat, dairy, and snacks that are the best choices for heart healthy diets. | More Info
Wednesday, June 19
Attend a free community yoga class (every Wednesday) with Alison McGhee in Pointe-Marie Square. | More Info
Thursday, June 20
Did you know White Star Market hosts a Community Run with Varsity Sports every Thursday? It starts at 5:30 — you choose between 2 mile or 4 mile routes. | More Info
Friday, June 21
Jackie’s Sweet Shapes is teaching a Summer Beach Themed Cookie Decorating Class at Light House Coffee at 7PM! You’ll get everything you need to decorate 5 cookies. | More Info
Saturday, June 22
Head downtown for BBQ, tacos and live music at the Bandito Music Festival from 11AM – 11PM. It’s free! | More Info
Sunday, June 23
Did you know White Star Market hosts an Acoustic Brunch every Sunday from 11AM – 2PM? | More Info
Olive or Twist has ALL DAY HAPPY HOUR every Monday!
Tuesday, June 25
Red Stick Social has bowling specials every Tuesday — $10 per lane per hour! | More Info
Wednesday, June 26
Join 225 Magazine at their Hot Off the Press Party happening from 5:30PM to 8:30PM at Red Stick Social! They’re releasing their annual BEST OF 225 issue! | More Info
Thursday, June 27
It’s Girls Night Out at Soji: Modern Asian! Get your choice of Cava champagne or specialty cocktail, a sushi roll, small plate and cucumber and Ponzu salad — all for just $25! Also, you get happy hour in the bar all night long! | More Info
Friday, June 28
Throwing it back to the 80s…. The Molly Ringwalds are playing at L’Auberge at 9PM! Tickets are $10. | More Info
Saturday, June 29
Tsunami is teaching a sushi making class starting at 11AM. The chef will give you a brief lesson in the history of sushi, talk recipes and skill level. You’ll make your own roll, nibble a little, enjoy a sake toast and leave with Tsunami swag! | More Info
Sunday, June 30
It’s Pub Poll Sunday at The Londoner! Know the most popular answer to national survey questions and win $$$ | More Info
And after June comes July — which means CHRISTMAS IN JULY! Make sure you’re signed up for my email newsletter, so you can get a different LOCAL deal every.single.day of the MONTH!
My Goals With Action program is relaunching in June, so I’m hosting a FREE LIVE MASTERCLASS to kick things off. I’m teaching you 7 Tricks To Stick To Your Plan & Reach Your Biggest Goals — Even When You Don’t Feel Like It. Save you seat here!
When I polled you a few months back, more than 65% of you said you run your own business, have a side business OR that you’re thinking about starting your own business.
Honestly, I was surprised it was that high!
I keep things mostly local and fun around here — but I NERD out over goal setting, time management, productivity — really anything personal development related.
And I definitely nerd out over growing local businesses through online marketing. And I’ve realized these two things go together like Taylor Swift and cats.
But I don’t share enough of that with you… because I thought that was my passion… not yours. But from the numbers, I can see that it’s yours too… and I’m here for you, friend!
Side note: If you’re NOT interested, no fear… it’s not taking over Southern Flair. I have a new websites for this!
So for my entrepreneurial spirits out there,
I’m hosting a FREE LIVE MASTERCLASS where I’m sharing 7 Tricks To Stick To Your Plan and Reach Your Biggest Goals — Even When You Don’t Feel Like It.
Whyyyy am I talking about this in May… basically, in the middle of the year?
Because this time of year it gets harder and harder to sit down, focus and do the work to GROW your business.
The beach is calling your name.
You wanna hit “play next episode” on Netflix.
You wanna take a nap.
But there’s still A LOT of time left in 2019 to do BIG things.
So join me for the class where I’m sharing some seriously life-changing tricks to help you stick to your plan… even when you don’t feel like it.
Spoiler: You’re never gonna FEEL like it. But you’re gonna do it anyway!
The Southern Flair Happy Hour Club is turning TWO this month! Over the past two years, I’ve gotten lots of requests for MORE meet-ups, MORE events, MORE activities, MORE friends and MORE girl power all around. So today, I’m sharing TWO other local groups who do just that — The Power Pump Girls and Brunch For the Soul! Keep reading for the FULL scoop on 3 Local Baton Rouge Girl Gangs To Join!
I met with the founders of The Power Pump Girls and Brunch For the Soul to learn all about these local groups, upcoming meet-ups and how we can involved!
We also did a fun Facebook LIVE where they’re sharing even MORE behind-the-scenes — including a few NEW announcements that hadn’t been shared before!
Tell us about The Happy Hour Club + Its Mission
The Happy Hour Club is a group of Baton Rouge women who meet-up at least once per month for happy hour. We choose a different local restaurant/bar each month, so it’s a way to meet new friends, network and support local at the same time. Typically, the venue will extend happy hour, offer us an exclusive deal or even create a special drink just for us! We occasionally expand into other activities like workout classes, volunteering opportunities or even cooking classes.
My main mission is to give Baton Rouge women an opportunity to make real friendships in adulthood. I love seeing the connections that are made for women who’ve lived here their entire lives, or have been here since college or have just moved to the area!
How Did The Happy Hour Club Start?
My readers at Southern Flair are right here in Baton Rouge, so it was a no brainer to give my readers a real community offline. I started the Happy Hour Club in May 2017 by announcing our first meet-up on here my blog and hoping someone showed up! Luckily, they did show up! And women have continued to show up each month since!
How does the Happy Hour Club build community in the Baton Rouge area?
I’ve seen women make so many new friends, grow in their career or business and just make so many new connections through the Happy Hour Club. Plus, I love how we get to support a local businesses with each of our meet-ups.
We have over 400 women in our group, and my hope is that more women will start reaching out in the group when they want to attend local events, put together their own meet-up or even just go grab a coffee with someone.
I want the Happy Hour Club to be a place where local women can find THEIR people that they can develop real friendships with outside of our meet-ups.
Why type of events do you hosts?
We host happy hour meet-ups once a month. They’re very low key/low stress events where we meet-up, grab seats and a few drinks. We sit and chat — simple as that! However, more women are wanting more events, so we’ve added additional events each month like a cooking class, a workout class, volunteering, etc. It’s always changing!
I want Happy Hour Club to keep its original vibe of a chill happy hour without TOO much going on activity-wise, but I want to plan more for those women who want MORE as well.
How can people get involved?
We do all our communication in our closed Facebook group. You can join here or search for Southern Flair Happy Hour Club on Facebook.
I also announce our meet-ups in my Local Edition email newsletter. You can sign up here.
How can we stay connected in between events?
It all goes down in our Facebook group! Each week, we announce/remind you of the upcoming meet-up, plus we have other discussions/prompts to get to know each other more. We also have a Happy Hour Club “Friend Of the Month” that we highlight. Members are also free to post about anything else they’d like to do in the group… like if they want someone to grab coffee with, or someone to go Live After 5 with or try a new workout class with!
Next, meet Sherin Dawud and Raina Vallot, the founds of Power Pump Girls, LLC. They created PPG as a positivity incubator that is a hub for breeding the next generation of community leaders and world changers (as many know, they “only hang with hustlers”). They’re committed to investing in our community and do so via advocacy, mentorship and funding. You can find features on local women in business and ways to support them in their blog space, The Shoebox.
Tell us The Power Pump Girls + Its Mission
Power Pump Girls, Inc. is a 501c3 organization that services millennial women by cultivating business and leadership development. PPG is dedicated to supporting women in their pursuit to positively impact their communities. Our vision is to commission women to inspire action and influence change.
How Did the power pump girls get started?
We started PPG unofficially in early 2017 and incorporated the business in March of that year. We launched the brand to the community with our Boho Brunch in August 2017 and then became a tax-exempt non-profit in March of 2018. It’s been a whirlwind of support and positivity ever since!
How do you help build community in the Baton Rouge area?
PPG hosts various events throughout the year that help build community in a social setting, such as our brunch, Galentine’s Day event, and Girls Night Out meet-ups. We build the business community by connecting millennial women with work opportunities and partnering women with resources that can help them better freelance, launch a company, or climb the corporate ladder. We have been able to introduce several PPGs to their now business partners and best friends. We’ve also been blessed to facilitate some corporate deals on behalf of women in our community. Lastly and most recently, our membership portal, Hustle Hall, further builds community in the virtual space by allowing members to connect online when we are specifically hosting an event or workshop.
What type of events do you host?
Workshops, social events, conferences and online e-courses
How can people get involved?
Attending events, such as our STRIKE Workshop Intensive on June 8th, are the best way to get involved and meet other PPGs. Becoming a Hustle Hall member affords you further perks for being involved, such as discounts on events, members-only online content, monthly deals at local Baton Rouge businesses, and more.
How can we keep up with your community between events?
Following us on Instagram (@powerpumpgirlsinc) and Facebook (Power Pump Girls, Inc.) and subscribing to our newsletter is the best way to get involved and stay in touch with PPG happenings (www.powerpumpgirls.org).
Next up… meet Cynthia Corfah, the founder of Brunch For the Soul! Brunch for the Soul was founded off the idea that every woman deserves a seat at the table. She uses the term “girl gang” for fun, but they’re far from a gang. Brunch For the Soul is a welcoming circle of compassionate women, always encouraging and supporting each other with open arms. In a world where certain groups of women are ignored or brushed off, Brunch for the Soul aims to be that safe space for ALL women including women of color, plus size women and all women within the LGBTQ community.
Tell us about Brunch For The Soul!
Brunch for the Soul LLC is an online community and bi-monthly women’s brunch and mixer that aims to connect, empower and uplift women. Brunch for the Soul’s main mission is to connect, empower and uplift women by creating safe spaces where every woman has a seat at the table through events, online community, volunteering meet-ups and book club meetings.
How and when did you start your group?
The first brunch took place on October 21, 2017 as a way for me to combine my creative interests and bring women together. At the time, I was diving more into cooking and wanted to share some of my skills with some of my gal pals. I thought, “Well, I’m good at breakfast food. Let’s give brunch a try.” Whatever I created, I wanted it to be with intention.
I knew I wanted to create a safe for women (especially women of color) to connect on deeper levels. And in an ideal world, I wanted women to come as strangers, but leave with full stomaches, fulfilled souls and new friends. And so, Brunch for the Soul was born! After the generosity, support and encouragement from local women and brunch attendees, I transformed my creative project into a business in November 2018. Over time, Brunch for the Soul has grown into a community of genuine, empowered and compassionate women that I couldn’t be more proud to be apart of.
How does your Group build community in the Baton Rouge area?
Brunch for the Soul (BFTS) helps build community in Baton Rouge primarily through our events, meet-ups and book club. At our events, we encourage vulnerability and non-judgement. Because we intentionally create safe spaces, women of all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations and ages are able to sit at the same table, have open and thought-provoking dialogue and share stories. Our favorite part is seeing our attendees (especially the regulars) make lasting connections that carry over into their personal and professional lives. Through the Brunch for the Soul community, we have created a network of professionals, creatives, dreamers, mothers and small business owners that rely and call on each other for encouragement, life advice and professional services.
What type of events do you host?
Brunch for the Soul hosts three main types of events: Brunch for the Soul, BFTS meet-ups and BFTS Book Club. Brunch for the Soul is our premier bi-monthly ticketed event where 20-60 women can eat brunch dishes by local businesses, sip mimosas, participate in networking activities and develop new skills or business knowledge through workshops, women’s panels or talks with guest speakers. At Brunch for the Soul, women have learned everything from how to make their own succulent arrangements at Baton Rouge Succulent Company to how to be unapologetically themselves with local drag queen performers.
Outside of our bi-monthly brunches we offer free meet-ups for attendees to build and maintain their connections throughout the year such as our BFTS x Barre3 meet-up and MLK Fest volunteering meet-up. Lastly, every month the BFTS Book Club meets to discuss their book of the month. So far, the club has completed Becoming by Michelle Obama and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and is currently reading The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey.
How can people get involved?
Women can get involved by attending any one of our events or being active in our Facebook groups. Local businesses and organizations can get involved by donating dishes to our brunch buffet, sponsoring our events or collaborating with us.
How can we keep up with your community between events?
Our most used social media platform is Instagram. Follow us on Instagram for the quickest updates on ticket drops, new merchandise and upcoming events. Like us on Facebook for updates. You can also request to join our private Facebook groups: Brunch for the Soul: Sister Circle and BFTS Book Club for more inside scoop!
Good news! It’s easier than ever to start a business. In the world of #girlbosses and side hustlers… everyone can start a full-time business or run a thriving side business with just their laptop or iPhone. The internet has given us access to customers around the world who need what we have. Now’s the time to turn our passions into a business!
Buuuut! With that comes the problem that EVERYTHING is already taken… including YOUR passion and idea.
I feel ya. I was the only blogger I knew in 2010 haha! I feel the pressure more than ever to find my uniqueness and to come up with ideas that aren’t already being done, so I wanted to share three tips today to help you start a successful business (or tweak your existing one) in what feels like a saturated market… no matter the industry!
Just agree to this…. you won’t give up on your idea or passion!
3 Tips To Starting A Business When Everything Is Already Being Done:1- Consider how you add value to the industry
I know, just starting out you may not feel like you can add much value compared to ALL the experts who are already out there, BUT you have a unique perspective too. You have a special gift that people need. You have a special voice, attitude and perspective in your niche, so go with it. Don’t try to sound just like everyone else already in the industry. Be you and bring your uniqueness to the table. You have your own story to tell and sell.
Things to ask yourself:
What personal stories do you have that people can relate to?
How can I add my personal spin on things?
What makes you unique in this industry?
How can you add value by being you?
2- Be A Gap Filler
What’s missing in the industry or niche?
Look for gaps in the market and add things that aren’t being done.
That’s exactly what I did with my blog and the Baton Rouge Fashion Council. There were a million blogs in the world, but Baton Rouge didn’t have anyone sharing things exclusively for our local women. Also, there are fashion organizations around the world, but Baton Rouge didn’t have any sort of community to tie local boutique owners together.
What pisses customers off in the current niche or industry? How can you change that?
I learned this idea in B School and make all my clients think about it. When you start solving the customer problems in the industry, you’ll naturally fill the gaps.
You’re surely to get some unique ideas if you take some time to think about that one.
3- Zig when everyone else Zags
We’ve talked a lot about competition here — and how we can (but shouldn’t) spend SO much time looking at what everyone else is doing. But I’m telling you to do the opposite. Stop looking at what’s working for businesses. Instead, look at what people in the industry are doing and do the OPPOSITE.
There’s a magical little book called The Blue Ocean Strategy (and now Blue Ocean Shift) that I’ve talked about in a workshop before. And it is GOLD! Basically, the idea is that saturated markets are really competitive making them red oceans. But you want to tap into NEW blue oceans without any competitors.
My favorite example is Top Golf. They took an extremely saturated market like golf and did the opposite of industry norms… took away fairways, no need to bring your own clubs, add a fun atmosphere with food, play at night, add booze and music, make it a party… just to name a few.
It’s still golf, but a totally untapped market.
So there ya have it… three tips to starting a business when everything’s already being done! (1) Consider how you can add your personal touch to the industry (2) Fill the gaps and do something that’s not being done (3) Do the opposite of everyone else in your industry for a unique edge.
Today, we’re hanging out with Jackie Wilson of Jackie’s Sweet Shapes! She’s a Baton Rouge cookie decorator and instructor who teaches classes around town and makes custom cookies for ALL your parties. She’s sharing her journey from starting out with zero experience to now having sold out classes and growing into a full team to keep up with her demand!
I learned about 6 years ago from a friend in Florida who did them for parties and showers. I asked her if I could come over and have her teach me so that when I moved to Louisiana, I could have them at tailgating parties and give them as gifts. She taught me all of the basics within 3 hours and from there, I took the skills and would occasionally do them for various parties and such.
Let me tell you though, I was not any good at that time! Ha! Then about 3 years after this time, I desperately needed money for school so I decided to sell my cookies for a profit. Within 3 months, I was able to pay for the school semester and had a small business that was actually thriving better than I expected it would. A short time after this at the end of 2016, my mom who is an accountant helped me to make Jackie’s Sweet Shapes an LLC and become an official business!
How did cookie decorating transition into teaching classes?
I started teaching classes in November 2018 when a corporation reached out to me about offering classes to gain awareness of each of our businesses. I had always wanted to do this so was grateful for the opportunity to try it out. I thought I would maybe get 15 people in a class and the next thing you know, I had 55 people in my first ever class. Talk about nerve racking!!
Then after the Thanksgiving class, we kept doing them every month and the numbers rose to 85 people in a decorating class! It has been fun but I will say that my background and career/experience in personal training, swim coaching and fitness instructing, gave me the confidence and skills I needed to teach in front of a big group of people. So now I am able to use multiple skills and talents when I get the pleasure to teach cookie classes.
Walk us through how a class works!
Each participant receives their own “cookie kit” which has everything that they will need for the class including cookies, personal icing bags, scissors, sprinkles, etc! Each class cookie kit is different depending on the theme and shapes that we are designing.
The first 10-15 minutes, I go over basics of royal icing, terminology, the designs for the day and how to outline using a practice worksheet before we begin. We outline and “flood” all of the cookies for about 45 minutes and then take a break to let the cookies dry and for me to answer any questions folks may have about baking/decorating.
Then we come back for another 45 minutes to detail all of the cookies. The last 15 minutes is used for closing statements, taking pictures and answering more questions! A typical class is about 2 hours long to decorate 6 cookies and go over all of the basics before and after class!
What’s your advice for people who say they can’t decorate cookies but want to come to your class?
Come try it out! It is so much fun no matter what your skill level is and even if the cookies don’t look anything like mine, they will still taste great and the whole experience will be worth it!
My tagline is “our sweetest shape is your smile” because my main goal in anything I do for my business is to make each and every person smile and a little more joyful when they leave or after they receive a custom order.
I always include cookies of different skill levels to suit each person whether beginner or advanced and walk them through step by step so that they can accomplish each and every design no matter how difficult.
my favorite thing is seeing how you use ONE cookie cutter and turn it into a variety of different of shapes/cookies. HOW DO YOU DO THAT!?
Sometimes, I stare a cookie cutter and think of all of the ways that I can use it. Many times, I have my husband guess what the shape is and he comes up with some crazy ideas. There are also a lot of “cookiers” out there who design different cookies using various cutters with the intention that other cookie artists will use their designs. So I can not take all of the credit because we all share ideas with each other! Some of them are my own and I am super proud of those but some are other amazing artists’ work!
you’re Also really into fitness! how to you balance the two passions?
Well, I graduated with a degree in Kinesiology (Fitness and Human Performance) and got a job as a personal trainer right out of college. My intention was actually to go to grad school and become an Occupational Therapist but my journey led me to pursue Jackie’s Sweet Shapes and focus on that since I was enjoying it so much.
I still work part time as a fitness instructor and personal trainer because I just love it and want to keep it up! I do hope to still go to grad school and become an OT but I am not quite sure when that will be.
Balancing sweets and fitness can be hard like anyone who works multiple jobs but I try to keep them separate since they are such polar opposites. I rarely advertise my cookies to my fitness clients and vice versa! If it comes up in conversation, of course I love to share but I don’t advocate for the opposite one while I am working the other one. Personally, I don’t object to eating my cookies whenever I want and crave one! :)
If you could decorate cookies for any event or famous person who would it be and why?!
Definitely for my future children(s)’ wedding day(s)!! That would bring me so much joy to be part of the wedding in a small way and to give them a gift like that to benefit them and others and put a smile on their face.
Or my favorite singer Lauren Daigle because she is my favorite and we are a lot alike!
As your business grows, how are you managing to do ALL the things?!
Yes, I do it ALL! Sometimes I am so busy during the week with orders and classes and fitness responsibilities that I feel like I can’t manage it all but I am getting better and better as time goes on deciding how much I can handle and when to say no to more orders and commitments. I do have some assistants who help me behind the scenes when I need it most especially with the baking, packaging and class preparations.
But other than that, I handle all of the social media, advertising, shopping, inventory, communicating, invoicing, decorating/detailing, shipping/delivering…!
Wow that was a mouth full and it can definitely be a lot, but I really love it and can’t see it being any other way at this time (until the day when I have kids maybe!) :)
Give us one pro tip For cookie decorating basics (for us newbies)
1. Don’t aim for perfection or compare yourself to others’ cookies; just enjoy the process and have fun with it!
2. Be patient with the royal icing and take your time with the details. Rushing not only makes you more stressed but can also affect the outlining and detailing of the cookies when it comes to the royal icing.
What’s your ultimate goal for Jackie’s Sweet Shapes?
One of my goals is to teach more cookie decorating classes and host private events for folks. I would love to focus on classes more because it is so rewarding connecting with my students and giving them skills that they can use in the future while still doing something that I love!
I want to be able to have a space of my own in a shopping center or free standing building where I can teach classes every week and sell cookies during the holidays or for special occasions. It may or may not be a bakery (we will see!) but just a space where I can do what I love teaching and still have the option to sell cookies from time to time if I want.
Maggie here — Leslie’s Chihuahua! I’m taking over the blog today to share a few of my favorite things about the new PetSuites location in Baton Rouge! I got a private tour this week… one of the many perks for being a blogger’s dog!
While I was there, the staff was prepping the new facility for their GRAND OPENING party happening tomorrow, Saturday, May 4! More details on that here.
I have a pretty busy schedule throughout the day, so I mostly went for the free treats and cuddles by the staff, but I was pleasantly surprised by all the cool stuff I found out about PetSuites!
Before I share my top 7 favorite things, here are some fun facts:
PetSuites is a new 14,000 square foot pet care facility located at 8200 Perkins Road
There is 7,000 square foot outdoor space for playing
There’s a special kitty area too
There are over 20 PetSuites locations in 10 states
PetSuites has day care, boarding, grooming and even puppy pre-school
Maggie’s 10 Favorite Things About The New Petsuites Baton Rouge:1- The Townhomes
I’m super spoiled, so a Townhome is the place for me. PetSuite’s Townhomes have a toddler sized bed (so I can stretch out), super plush lamb wool bedding, a TV set on Animal Planet for my viewing pleasure and even a framed art print of a charming pup. Plus, I get gourmet treats and fresh food + water! If my mom wants me to get extra attention during my stay, she can add on more cuddle time with the staff (yes, please)!
2- Big and Little Dog Parks
I’m super tiny, so I like that I don’t have to dodge bigger dogs during my stay. The outside area has two separate doggie play areas for big and small dogs, so I won’t get run over by rambunctious bigger dogs. This way, I’m only around smaller dogs like me and can relax. There’s astroturf and agility equipment for all the pups to hang out and play on too!
3- In-Ground Doggie Pool
I’m not a huge water fan (I’ve only been in the pool once… on accident), BUT I LOVE sunbathing. So I can lay out in the sun while my dog friends splash around in the in-ground bone shaped doggie pool. There are a couple on site in the outdoor play area.
4- Inside Playroom
Speaking of getting wet, if the weather is bad there’s an inside playroom for all the dogs to enjoy. There’s agility equipment, toys and pools inside for us. Plus, if I need some alone time there are fenced in cabanas for me.
5- Family Time
I’m an only child, but I love knowing that my dog friends can spend time with their brothers and sisters — even if they’re different sizes! There’s a special time and place where they can enjoy each other’s company before going back to their separate boarding area. #familyfirst
6- Everything is clean and safe
The staff at PetSuites cleans WAY more than my mom at home. They’re always working to clean up after us and all the products are safe for us dogs!
7- Enclosed Facility
I feel super safe at PetSuites since everything is enclosed and fenced in. I can’t escape and neither can any of my mischievous friends! Plus, no one can come in and get me!
p.s. Check out our LIVE walk through tour of PetSuites!
Happy May! Here’s your monthly list of something to do EVERY SINGLE DAY in Baton Rouge — including what to eat, see, drink and do!
Wednesday, May 1
Regymen Fitness will be at White Star Market every Wednesday in May for FREE community workout classes! They’ll be on the patio at 6PM! After class, grab dinner and a $5 glass of wine! | More Info
Thursday, May 2
Rock N Rowe is happening every Thursday night at Perkins Rowe from 6PM to 9PM! This Thursday they’re featuring Phat Hat | More Info
No Show Comedy is hosting an Open Mic Night at City Bar starting at 8PM. | More Info
Friday, May 3
We’re still going strong with crawfish season! The Annual Crawfish King Cook-Off is happening from 4 – 8PM. This is an all-you-can-eat crawfish event benefiting Junior Achievement & Big Buddy. | More Info
Saturday, May 4
May the FORTH be with you! It’s National Star Wars Day!
The Companion Animal Alliance is hosting their first monthly Furry Fun Run at 9AM followed by coffee with Titan Coffee. Run/walk along the levee and even bring your own pup if you want! Did you know you can register as a volunteer and BRING a shelter dog along with you for the run?! | More Info
The Corked 5K is also happening downtown today at 5PM! Run/walk and get wine along the way with even more at the finish line! | More Info
Perkins Rowe is hosting their annual Cinco de Bingo! Get a chance to win $1000 dollars in retail by visiting the shops! | More Info
The Rum House is hosting a Cinco de Mayo PRE-Party!! Live music, $6 margs, $3 beers and MORE! Plus, I’m giving away a $25 gift card on Instagram! | More Info
Sunday, May 5
It’s Cinco De Mayo!
Mestizos is selling VIP tickets to their private dining room where you get a free top shelf margarita, your own private bartender, snacks, a swag bag, your own DJ and more! | More Info
The Velvet Cactus is celebrating Cinco De Mayo all weekend long! More Info
Los Reyes is celebrating with live music and plenty of margaritas! Their party starts at 11AM. | More Info
County Parish Line is playing at Caliente. They’ll have $3 tequila shots, giveaways and more. | More Info
Monday, May 6
The Little Village is hosting a wine dinner — 6 wines with 5 courses starting at 6:30PM. | More Info
Tuesday, May 7
It’s National Teachers Appreciation Day! Mason’s Grill is offering teachers happy hour prices all day from May 6 – May 10. | More Info
Wednesday, May 8
It’s Pint Night at the Bulldog. Drink beer, take your pint glass home!
Thursday, May 9
Club Blue – Young Professional Organization is hosting an Ice Cream Social with the Boys and Girls Club at 5PM, followed by a Happy Hour at Happy’s downtown. | More Info
Jackie’s Sweet Shapes is hosting a Mother’s Day Cookie Decorating Class at Light House Coffee! | More Info
Friday, May 10th:
Hot Art Cool Nights is happening in Mid City! Stroll down Jefferson and Government — or even take the shuttle to hop around local businesses for shopping, food, drinks and more! | More Info
Saturday, May 11
Grab your fresh veggies and more at the Red Stick Farmers Market! Open every Saturday from 8AM to 11AM | More Info
Start your Saturday morning with a FREE community yoga class at White Star Market at 10AM! | More Info
Sunday, May 12
Happy Mother’s Day! White Oak Plantation is hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch starting at 11AM | More Info
Monday, May 13
It’s National Public Gardens Week! You can see the new flowers blooming at the LSU Botanical Gardens from 9AM – 12PM | More Info
Tuesday, May 14
The new Red Stick Social has bowling specials every Tuesday — $3.33 per game and $3 shoes! | More Info
Wednesday, May 15
It’s Wine Wednesday every Wednesday at Reginelli’s! Enjoy $10 bottles of select wine ALL day when you dine in. | More Info
Thursday, May 16
We having our next Happy Hour Club Meet-Up with Kendra Scott at Perkins Rowe! They’ll have treats and drinks for us with a special discount! And you KNOW we’ll be grabbing drinks before! Join our group for all the details!
Good Eats Kitchen is celebrating their grand opening on Corporate Blvd! | More Info
Friday, May 17
Rebirth Brass Band is playing downtown at Live After 5 from 5-8PM! | More Info
Saturday, May 18
The Second Annual Baton Rouge Oyster Festival is happening downtown from 11AM to 8PM. It’s FREE! There will be eating, cooking, & shucking competitions as well as other local food. | More Info
Martin Wine Cellar is hosting its 3rd annual Vino Italiano Festival at 6PM. Sample over 20 of their favorite Italian wines along with meats, cheeses and light bites from their deli! | More Info
The Color Run is happening downtown at 8AM with a finish festival after. Get $5 off your ticket with code SOUTHERNFLAIRBLOG | More Info
Companion Animal Alliance is hosting its annual FUR BALL! Enjoy a cocktail buffet, open bar, live music, silent auction, photos with your pet on the red carpet and MORE! | More Info
Sunday, May 19
The Varsity Theatre shows Game Of Thrones on the BIG screen every Sunday night! Doors open at 6PM — no cover.
I’m teaming up with the Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge for the summer to get lots of furry friends adopted and cared for! I’ve been learning A LOT about CAA over the past few weeks, so today I’m sharing some of that with you — including that they just moved into a brand new AMAZING facility off River Road this past fall.
1- The facility is a MAJOR upgrade
CAA moved to their NEW location right on LSU’s campus in November 2018. Before that, they were in an old rundown shelter near the airport. They raised over $12 million for the new shelter, and it includes climate-controlled kennels, updated vet equipment, a disaster relief shelter, sky lights and big windows for more natural light, a dog park, sound proof spaces, horse stables, cat rooms, and SO MUCH MORE.
2- CAA isn’t in competition with other local shelters
In fact, it’s just the opposite! CAA is the only open intake shelter in East Baton Rouge Parish — this means they don’t turn away any animal. So local rescue groups like Friends of the Animals, Cat Haven, Capital Area Welfare Society and the Northside Human Society all handpick pets from CAA to bring to their shelters. This means a better chance of getting them adopted!
3- CAA accepts ALL animals — not just cats and dogs
Over 45,000 animals have been saved since CAA started in 2011. And since CAA doesn’t turn away any animals, they often get horses, pigs, goats, chickens, birds and even reptiles!
4- It’s only $5 a month to be a CAA member
That’s less than your fancy coffee drink! If you’re looking for a simple way to give back that’s not a big commitment, your $5 a month will go a long way. Become a member here.
5- You can date a dog
THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING!
If you’re not looking to adopt a dog, you can still take the pups out of the shelter for a date! Bring ’em to Happy’s downtown or for a run on the levee — really, bring them wherever you want! Then bring them back to the shelter. It’s a fun way to get the dogs out and about and give them some love… even if you can’t take them home fur-ever. This is available EVERY DAY from 10AM – 5PM.
To get involved with the Date-A-Dog initiative, fill out a volunteer application here. Then, you’ll go through a one-time orientation. After that, you can come whenever you want to pick up a dog for your day date!
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I’m def gonna be taking some dogs for runs/walks on the levee!
p.s. There’s a FURRY FUN RUN coming up on Saturday, May 4 at 9AM — if you do the orientation between now and then, you can bring a pup out for the run! This fun run starts and ends at the shelter.
6- You can read/study/chill with cats
If you identify with being a crazy cat lady, then the cat patio ( or “catio”) is for you. This is a closed in space with HUGE windows where you can hang out with cats! Bring a book to read or work on your laptop while lounging around. CAA said this is actually quite popular during finals week!
7- Every adoptable pet is spayed/neutered
CAA has an in-house vet team that performs all procedures and vaccines to get the pets ready for adoption.
All dogs receive a physical exam, spay/neuter, rabies and distemper vaccinations, a heartworm test and prevention, a flea treatment, deworming, AND a microchip.
All cats receive a physical exam, spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, ear mite and flea treatment, deworming, blood tests, AND a microchip.
Adoption fees are $175 for small dogs/puppies, $75 for bigger/older dogs and $25 for kittens.
8- There’s a retail store on site
This means after you adopt your new furry friend, you can get everything you need right at the shelter — with proceeds going back to the shelter. They have food, leashes, kennels, treats, toys and more. Plus, you can also buy pet odor candles for the house (my personal fave!)
9- There’s a multi-use classroom on site
This is the place you’d go for orientation to become a volunteer, but CAA also hosts school field trips, Girl Scout troop meetings, team building activities — and even birthday parties and kitten yoga!
10-Your Amazon Purchases Help CAA
I know you’re already shopping on Amazon, so go ahead and shop through Amazon Smile so more is donated back to CAA at no extra cost to you.
CAA also has an Amazon wishlist so you can send the shelter things it needs with just a couple clicks.
11- CAA accepts donated goods too
We’re all livin’ that Marie Kondo life, so let’s put those old towels and blankets to good use. CAA will take them — along with your old newspapers and even boom boxes and classical music cds (for the cats)! They’ll also accept donations like paper towels, Dawn soap, milk bones and office supplies.
Visit www.caabr.orgfor more information and ways you can get involved.