BW Goes to Propeller, New Orleans

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I haven’t been ignoring you, truly I haven’t.  I’ve just been pre-occupied with an opportunity that came my way this summer.  It was July, and there I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business when someone from Propeller New Orleans, a non-profit entrepreneurial accelerator program, contacted me about applying for acceptance into their fall program.  I knew a little bit about Propeller, having read an article about them last year, and I was intrigued.

To be very candid with you, even after visiting their site and reading about what they offer and about the business ventures they have helped become successful in the past, I still wasn’t sure my Bayou Woman Adventures was a good fit; and I told them so.  Whereas other entities were all about starting non-profits and businesses that seemed to address more social issues in New Orleans, BW is just all about getting her adventures off the ground and making a living while doing so.  Oh, nay nay, they disagreed and encouraged me to apply.  So I read over the lengthy, detailed application and and pretty much acquiesced, still thinking my three-day immersion trips in bayou country could not possibly make enough social or environmental impact to be worthy of such a program.

trolling-swampMy thinking was, of course, full of flaws, because these are disappearing wetlands, and this is a disappearing way of life. Bringing folks down here to spend three days with me, staying at my little camp, eating local seafood, going out into the wetlands and learning about wetland loss, birds, wildlife, plants, culture, and way of life is priceless and shines a spotlight on the environmental, social, and economic issues facing coastal residents.  My efforts educate and create awareness, foster stewardship and appreciation for the wetlands, the creatures, and the people who depend on those wetlands for survival.

Lapeyrouse-Grocery-00Now, a little relevant history for our new readers who don’t know what a Bayou Woman Adventure is. Back in June of 2012, I launched the first Bayou Woman Adventure with a group of five women from several states.  They went crabbing for their first time ever.  They actually caught crab and returned to Camp Dularge, where they boiled them up and ate them.  Then we took a back road trip stopping at scenic places along the way like Lapeyrouse Grocery, a 100-year old grocery store and community icon stillSchmoopys-certified run by the same family that founded it. We left there and traveled the back roads to Dulac on Bayou Grand Caillou where we enjoyed a meal at Schmoopy’s, the only restaurant in our area with the 100% Certified Authentic Louisiana Seafood rating.  That means, ALL the fish, shrimp, oysters, and crab they serve are caught in Louisiana waters.  You won’t find tilapia on their menu!

The ladies had a great time, and all the feedback was positive, so this became the model for future adventures, and I really thought I was onto something with my three-day immersion trips.  However, I’m not a marketing genius nor an internet or social media guru; and while I attempted to market them via this blog, Facebook, radio, and several women’s internet travel sites, the idea just didn’t take off.  In spite of that fact, the decision makers at Propeller decided that my immersion trip idea is a valid one, and out of 100 applications, mine was one of 29 chosen.  Instead of giving up, I’m breathing new life into the immersion trip idea, with the help of the brilliant folks at Propeller.

Morgan Sasser_Accelerator Portraits FINAL-28The program runs for 12 weeks, and the “ventures” (as we are called) are divided into four sectors: Food, Health, Education, and Water.  I’m in the Water sector, of course.  Each venture is teamed with a lead mentor, and mine is Mike Eckert, who served as CEO of The Weather Channel for about eight years. Sitting across the table from him at our first meeting, visions of the TV show “Shark Tank” flew through my head, and I thought, “Man, this guy could be one of those sharks.”  But unlike Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, Mike is a very nice man dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. 

homeworkPropeller partners with interns from New Orleans universities in areas of business like accounting, social media, advertising, marketing, and more and offers those services to the ventures free of charge. They pair the ventures up with those interns and workshops most needed to either get their venture idea rolling or to further a pre-existing venture, like mine.  Along with those weekly meetings with my lead mentor and interns comes homework assignments.  Well, I can’t just sit back and allow them to do all the work.

So, what am I leading up to?  You’ve been wondering, I know.  I hear your wheels spinning.  This week begins the last very in-depth four weeks of the program.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  First big item?  The marketing team decided that the venture needs a new name, and that name change will happen this week. Further, the target market of women has changed to 1)Photographers 2)Bird Watchers 3)College Students with a potential secondary market to small families.  The five-person team of Loyola interns is working diligently to determine the best way to approach these target markets.

While this blog about Life in the Louisiana Wetlands will remain as is, where is, a new website will most likely be designed under the new name for these immersion trips.  Additionally, the immersion trips business will have its own social media presence. I know, us old fogies aren’t into all that social media stuff, but many people of all ages now go to the Internet to plan their trips, and social media is one way to get your key words and business name higher rankings in online searches.  I don’t pretend to know much about that, and I certainly don’t have time to learn, and that is just one of many reason why this Propeller opportunity is a blessing for my business.  (At this juncture, I must thank LilSis and my current webmaster, without whose help I’d have been lost the past few years!) 

Propeller.head.shotMeanwhile, my blog posts have been and may continue to be few and far between from now to the end of the year because I’m spending so much time focused on my homework (plus running Camp Dularge and Wetland Tours, doing my part-time writing and radio gigs and executive director job).  So, please don’t abandon me!  I’m still here and will post when I can.  

Even though I hesitated to apply for this program, I can say I’m very glad I did, and I’m looking forward to seeing my new and improved Bayou Woman Adventures take off in 2016 with the goal of booking four trips per month.  Immersion trip, anyone?

Thank y’all for still being here, for being patient with me, and I’ll let you know significant developments as they come along . . . 

I’m still your

BW

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Comments

BW Goes to Propeller, New Orleans — 38 Comments

    • Thanks, Julie, and I certainly hope you’re right! I’d love to combine my resources and do nothing but these immersion trips and let some of the other side jobs go — sometimes I don’t know if I’m coming or going!

  1. What? Photographers? Bird Watchers?..You can’t have these people running around scaring the fish..
    Camp Dularge is a FISH camp and it would be a sacrilege to have people hanging photo negatives on the shower rod and sitting around the fish cleaning station talking about Yellow bellied sap suckers..
    You know I’m teasing and I wish you the best of luck in this new venture and btw I’m still in need of a mid 60’s gal who can back up a boat trailer,tie the occasional Clouser Minnow and maybe rustle up a respectable meat loaf..
    To steal and abort a line from the Bogart movie “Treasure of Sierra Madre”…You don’t need no stickin bird watchers.

    • You always make me laugh, George, and somehow I know you are only ever half joking! What you may not know about my work is that I already take photographers, film crews, and bird watchers out on my boat; and sometimes they rent the camp, too. Immersion trips are my attempt at using all my resources, or merging them, to form one successful business on which I can depend; rather than a tour here and there and a rental here and there. And just to make you feel better, some of the past immersion trips actually were fishing trips!!! But, we’ll see what’s in store for the future of my businesses, won’t we? I’m keeping my eye out for that treasure for ya!

      • Wendy,
        Sounds like you have much work to do and I’m certain you’re up to the challenge but if I may I’d like to offer an alternative solution for your consideration.

        You have name recognition in the outdoor world and you can capitalize on that by promoting,vigorously promoting, “The World’s Largest Redfish Tournament”…you charge ridiculously high entry fees but supported by obscene payouts all the way down to 25th place.i.e. 25th place pays $250,000 and a new Ranger flats boat..
        Now,the day of the final weigh in should find you lounging on a beach,sipping umbrella drinks,in a country with no extradition treaty.
        No need to thank me..

        • Oh my! You better be 100% joking . . . . I’m glad you think I have name recognition, and now I have to do as you say and promote vigorously, which equates to $$$$$ . . but it won’t be a redfish tournament, sorry to say. Pat Malone with The Elite Redfish Series has that all wrapped up already, but he actually does pay out. Likes to poor mouth, but I think he’s making a nice profit. Maybe I’ve said more than I should’ve about that . . . .

  2. Isn’t it amazing that at a time in our lives when we thought we might actually be able to settle down a bit that in fact, we’re running hotter than ever? Congratulations on looking forward and being open to new ideas and views. It’s exciting!

    • I don’t know, Kim. It’s a last-ditch all-out effort for me — while my friends are retiring, I’m launching something new . . . it’s sort of crazy! We shall see . . . .

    • I just have to figure out the promotional/advertising side, Kim. I have a good service to offer, now just to reach those who would pay to come do this.

  3. You Go Girl !

    A good buddy of mine up here has your same advisor. Her name is Connie Uddo. Have you met her ? She is another Dynamo, she was a touring, professional tennis player, yet she is only like 5 2 ! Connie has been instumental in the Katrina recovery in New Orleans. She has also helped in a few other disasters around the country.

  4. Wendy,

    Best of luck on extending your adventures in bayou country.
    Also, thanks for KTB and the parish team up to collect hazardous waste last Saturday. My work shop looks really good after the clear out of old products. Perhaps this event could occur twice a year: Spring and Fall?

    Cheers! Kathleen Cuneo

    • It was great seeing you Saturday, Kathleen. I miss having you on the board of KTB, but you do great things in your neighborhood without all the red tape!!! The parish took the lead on this one after we asked them for help. Last November, I funded this HHW drop off day with a grant because those companies charge a lot of money. Actually, there is a $20,000 minimum charge, so based on that, there’s no way the parish can foot this bill twice a year. I’m just sorry more folks didn’t take advantage of it.

  5. REALLY BW, “rubber meets the road”! Shouldn’t you have written “prop hits the water”. Lol
    Best wishes on another BW Adventure.
    PS…last week Hubby and I ate a 2014 fruit cake that had your name on it. It was a little crumbly, but tasted just fine. I’ll put your name on a 2015 cake and hope we can get together before the 2016 batch is baked!

    • Girl, I’m gonna steal your words! Pft, I should have thought of that!!! Y’all just need to come stay overnight at the camp and go fishing. I mean, what’s keeping you from doing that this winter?

      • Well…there’s Hubby, my dad, a law suit, grandparent duty, choir practice, church and working on the camp. Another coat of paint on the Murphy (type) beds and hanging art work then the interior will be finished. Then there is some exterior work to be done.
        I am hoping to come fish DeCade at least once this year. Have the Specks shown their fins yet?

  6. Lovely post, beautiful picture of you, so happy for you. You’ve practically perfected this blog after, what, 6-7 years? Time for another challenge. You’ve proved that the community you reach out to reaches back to you. Good luck with all the new endeavors, Captain Wendy. You’re my hero woman!

    • Your words really resonate with me, Brenda, because most folks have no idea what it takes to turn out a half-way decent blog post with photos. Some bloggers write all week on one post; but it’s the photos that take time to load, edit, load again, plug in, etc. Not to mention how long it takes (with interrupting phone calls for for camp inquiries, etc) to actually get your thoughts together on a blog, write it, and edit it. To do it right, it takes AT LEAST a day. But it’s a work of love, which I will continue. Oh, and it’s been 8 years!

  7. you will always be our Capt. Wendy and I think this new idea is just the shot in the arm that may have been needed and I think it’s terrific; you have a huge fan base of Bayou Women behind you and we will never let you down or leave you….we’re gonna give you that heave ho needed all the way!!! Congrats on the new changes and new logo? we’ll see I’m an old fogie too and change is just hard to adjust to …..you’d think I’d have that down pat working for TAMU!!!! LOL

  8. as soon as I can when I retire, I’m headed your way to do whatever I can to get the word our on our wetlands, I know I’m in Texas but my heart is in Louisiana and seeing what I saw during the BP Oil Spill (disaster and chaos) I’m determined to do what I can to help the wildlife, the land and the fish to strive and thrive down there forever! It probably wouldn’t hurt to educate some adults either! Your picture was lovely, you haven’t changed since 5th grade!!

    • Since 5th grade? That made me smile! I’ve just put on a whole lot more pounds since then, girlfriend. But that’s okay . . it’s quality weight and more of me to love!! I’d love nothing better than for you to get a group together and do another immersion trip, Sharon. But this time, you won’t hurt your knee hauling in crab traps. We’ll just do photography and write essays! Or you just let me know when you want to come!! Hope you’re up and at ’em very soon!

  9. congratulations on your new venture. I’m sure it will work out nicely and you will get the recognition you deserve for promoting our shrinking wet lands. Thanks for all you do and good luck.

    • Well, Brunella, I’m not sure about recognition, but I sure could use some customers!!! That’s why I’m going to all this trouble of driving to New Orleans once and twice a week for 12 weeks!! I hope all the hard work pays off in terms of business, and thanks so much for your kind words!

  10. Congratulations to you! I think you are the perfect person to be chosen. Keep making us proud my dear friend. Will visit soon. Your Cocodrie friend!

    • I miss my Cocodrie friend, and it’s a shame we’re both so busy and don’t get to take much time for ourselves. If we could, I know we’d visit way more than we do right now! BTW, while I was writing this, it occurred to me that you might still need me to take some photographs of the store??? Please let me know!

  11. Congratulations Wendy. And thank you for changing the site so I can actually see a whole paragraph at once.:) Putting the links for Facebook, Twitter, etc on the side makes a big difference.

    • I”m so sorry, Cammy, but I have nothing to do with that. The site has to be set up where it views well on mobile devices like smart phones as well as notebooks, laptops, and big screens. I trust the webmaster to do that, and again, I apologize that you were having trouble. Tell me again why you couldn’t see an entire paragraph at once?

      • The page had the tool bar across the top and it was about 1 1/2″ deep, then the bottom of my screen had another 1 1/2″ to 2″ deep band with the Facebook, Twitter, etc., info on it and I was getting about 3″ of space to read in. Even when trying to view the photos, I had to scroll down them. My screen is approx. 8″ tall x 15″ wide too. It was a type of picture frame effect. I have about all the screen back now.

  12. Right On Wendy!!! This is a wonderful thing for you and will “Propel” you to all time heights. Best of Luck and Lots of Love Best Wishes and Prayers go to you. Spread your wings and FLY!!

    • Thanks, Denise! 2016 will be the year to make it or break it as far as these immersion trips go. I’m committed to this program, and it’s an all out effort to make things work. I really appreciate your encouragement!!!

    • Thanks, Dede, and because one of my target markets is photographers, I’m going to be gathering information about how to reach your club and others like yours with the offer of my immersion trips. I’ll be open to any advice you might have, too!

  13. My apologies to my readers. An email notification went out this morning about a new post; but that was in error. That post is not ready for publication just yet. Sorry!

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