If I asked you to name your favorite brands, you could probably rattle off a few with ease.
Everyone has a handful of brands that they live and breathe by. Maybe a clothing line, gadget maker, or website that would devastate us if they closed up shop.
In New Orleans, the brands we love and even the way those brands are marketed are just as unique as the rest of the 504.
But what makes them so important to us isn't just the products or services they provide or even the way they provide them, but the fact that these brands have been through the same things we have. These companies or organizations have helped us weather the storms that battered our communities and were vital in the rebuilding process.
We took a closer look at what makes these brands so important to New Orleans in our NOLA Brands series.
Brands that Give Back
When we at Story Block Media sought out to do a video blog series on our Top 10 Favorite New Orleans Brands, we knew we wanted to focus on those companies that make a conscious effort to give back to their community. We brainstormed which local companies and nonprofits we wanted to highlight and pay homage to. We finally came up with our top 10:
- Terrance Osborne
- Tales of the Cocktail
- Move Ya Brass
- Fleurty Girl
- NOLA Brewing Company
- What You Give Will Grow
- Son of a Saint
- Roots of Music
- NOLA Beings
- Cafe Reconcile
NOLA Brands: Born out of Natural Disasters
On August 29, 2005, the world watched in shock and horror as Hurricane Katrina gutted the gulf coast. In New Orleans, levees buckled, historic neighborhoods flooded, and thousands were killed. Those who survived found themselves homeless.
NOLA Brewing Company
Kirk Coco, a captain in the Navy at the time, was devastated about what happened to his hometown. He left his rank and returned home to help the city rebuild. Coco opened NOLA Brewing Company, providing jobs, developing commerce, and using profits to give back to organizations in the community.
One of New Orleans’ most beloved celebrities is Lauren LeBlanc, also known as “Fleurty Girl,” a nickname she shares with her stores. Lauren’s is a rags to riches story. As single mom of three kids, Lauren found herself scraping together change to buy dinner. She turned her fortunes around by building a brand that is revered in New Orleans for the fun homage it pays to the city.
NOLA Brands: Overcoming Violence and Crime
New Orleans has a big problem: an insanely high murder and crime rate. Where there’s senseless violence, there’s also strong leaders working tirelessly to help heal.
Son of a Saint
Son of a Saint founder Sonny Lee is one of those unsung heroes. His father was a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints who died from a heart attack when Sonny was just a toddler. Sonny knew he wanted to make a difference for other young men who grew up without their fathers like him. His nonprofit helps provide mentorship, counseling, tutoring, and love to young boys who lost their dads to murder or long-term incarceration.
Roots of Music
People in New Orleans know how to smile through their pain. They celebrate life through music. Grammy Award winner Derrick Tabb founded Roots of Music in 2008. The after-school music program helps kids who come from troubled homes with academic support, structure, and nutrition. The Roots of Music marching band is celebrated at Mardi Gras parades and its members have honored New Orleans by marching in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena.
Being a Brand That Gives Back is Selfless Work
As employees at Story Block Media, we pride ourselves on storytelling. Through interviewing the people behind the brands, we learned they all had one thing in common: selflessness. They were tired and exhausted. Our interview was probably their first chance, in a long time, to just sit down, relax, breathe a long deep breath, and talk about their mission in an open, trusting space. Running a company or a nonprofit is exhausting work and each one of the subjects we interviewed were giving up so much of themselves and their own wants and needs so they could continue making a difference.
In a world with an “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality (a newsroom idiom that places violence above all other content), good organizations and nonprofits are often ignored for the great work they do while the national and local media focuses on gloom and doom. For us, it was rewarding to be able to shine some light on the brands around us who care more than just about their bottom line.
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