^
^

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Phew!

I finally went live with my Fabled Labels® Archive site last week and I got my first order today! That may not sound like much to you, but to me, it’s equivalent to scaling Everest. It’s been fifteen months since I first mentioned here that I wanted to launch a new product line from the incredible collection of late 19th and early 20th century New Orleans food labels I discovered almost forty years ago.
I veered significantly off track in March, April, and May to get ready for the Gonzales Jambalaya Festival. I had a blast making aprons and pillows and designing and building a booth, but I only sold two aprons (to relatives) and one pillow (to a lost California tourist). Fabled Labels® was distinctly out of its element in a crowd in hot pursuit of beer, food, and music. It wasn’t a total loss though. It gave me a necessary deadline to get some things accomplished; namely, to start developing some actual product.

An avalanche of pillows started to build.
Once the festival was behind me, I got back to developing my website, but it threatened to be my undoing due to lack of focus — my fatal flaw. I’d already spent months building the database and the administrative and accounting pieces, all things invisible to a buying public. I was spending money, working like a sled dog, not making a dime, and not sure how I would ever make a dime.

Aprons out the wazoo.
Then along came my cousin Don to teach me the first law of business: do not let the tail wag the dog. Don and his son Todd are the second and third generation to successfully run Alexander Concrete Products down the road from me in Brittany. It so happens a couple of other locals, the Guist brothers, who work for the Alexanders, had become big celebrities after landing starring roles in The History Channel’s hit Swamp People. [Note: I can’t claim to know the brothers because they came along after I left Cajun Dogpatch® for LSU to — in the immortal words of my sister Donna — become sophisticated. My father and their Uncle Cecil were buddies.] Todd had written to The History Channel during a talent search and the rest is — well — history. Don and Todd manage the business side of what has become a thriving enterprise.

Home page for brothers Glenn and Mitchell Guist, stars of the History Channel hit show Swamp People.
The Guist brothers live across Bayou Conway from me.
A few months ago Don asked me to redesign the Guist brothers’ website. In Don’s view, the Guists didn’t need no stinking n-tier website. Don had one mission: to sell products. I put the Guist Brothers site together in less than two weeks, and Don was selling. It was a thing of beauty.

Home page for Alexander Concrete Products, Inc. in Brittany, Louisiana
Alexander Concrete Products has been making pre-cast concrete steps
down the road for almost 60 years.
Then a few months later Don asked me to design a website for Alexander Concrete. Again, Don kept it simple. His focus was on the products and how to drive traffic to the site. It came together in a week. Now Don’s all about mastering SEO (search engine optimization), a subject I’d rarely thought of and that makes my eyes glaze over. Some folks got it. Some ain’t.