Living in the Philly area I definitely get a lot of slack for being a New Orleans Saints fan. But, what can I say? The Eagles broke my heart one too many times. So, I decided to cheer for the team and city that one of my favorite football players of all-time Deuce Mcallister called home.

Several years later Lauren Thom was also putting her love of the Big Easy to good use when she launched Fleurty Girl. And, she also got a little boost from the Saints.

Thom, a mother of three, took the $2,000 from her 2009 tax return, designed a couple of hundred t-shirts for women that celebrated NOLA and built a website. The result? The shirts almost immediately. After just 6 months of operating her online store, Thom opened up a physical storefront on historic Oak Street.

When the Saints arrived at Super Bowl XLIV, Thom designed black and gold t-shirts with “Who Dat” on the front. This prompted the NFL to send her a cease-and-desist letter. But, the media attention forced the NFL to back down and issue Thom an apology. Thom and her company had officially become the destination for anyone looking for Saints to Mardi Gras gear. Today Fleurty Girl has five locations and employees over 30 people.

Not too shabby for a mother of 3 and a $2,000 investment.

But, what’s the secret to Thom’s success?

Love What You’re Doing

Each and every entrepreneur has to have a passion for what they do. It’s that passion that will keep them going during the rough times and to constantly strive for something bigger and better. And, Thom is no exception.

During an interview with MSNBC, Thom stated, “I did it because I love New Orleans. I love what we do. I love fashion. I love the retail business. I love our customers,

Bootstrap As Much As Possible

One challenge that entrepreneurs face when deciding to start a business is how they’re going to receive funding. Some will max out their credit cards, borrow money from family/friends, take out a loan, or seek out investors. Thom went a more practical approach; she bootstrapped Fleurty Girl.

“If we didn’t have the money, then we didn’t open that new store, we didn’t print that design or we didn’t add that new product to stores.” She also added on MSNBC, “I put as much money back into the business and didn’t take a paycheck for the first year. I let it be organic.”

Surround Yourself With Enthusiastic Employees

Dale Carnegie once said that “Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” Thom has also found success through her enthusiasm, which has also been spread to her employees.

When hiring new employees Thom tells Entrepreneur, “I can teach the register to anyone, but I can’t teach people enthusiasm. You just have to have it to work here.” Thom also expects her employees to be knowledgeable and involved with the city to keep tourists coming back. To sweeten the pot, she provides free t-shirts and a 401(k).

Make the Family a Part of Your Team

Your family members are extremely important for entrepreneurs. They’re your biggest champions and will be there during both the good times and bad times. As a mother, that’s scientifically important.

According to Thom in Entrepreneur;

“You have to make family a part of your business… I’ve always considered my kids to be my board of directors, whether we’re moving or having them share a bedroom so we can open a store in our house. Make them a part of that journey. And that’s for any mom, not just single moms… Our kids are our reason to seek out a better life.”

Social Media Isn’t a Microphone

The sharpest of marketers have realized that social media isn’t just about promoting your business. It’s using it to connect with your audience and create brand awareness. Thom has known this from the get-go.

Instead of just telling people about her shirts, Thom was busy spreading the gospel of New Orleans. That sounds simple, but it’s an effective tactic in attracting tourists and locals.

“I’ve made our social media a window into the world of New Orleans so that natives who have moved away, tourists who love NOLA and locals can see what’s going on around the city.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk

Entrepreneurship is all about taking a giant leap of faith. While this can be challenging when you’re raising a family, it’s necessary if you have the passion and desire for something bigger. As Thom put it, “It was just taking a chance – a huge risk.”

But, the risk was more than just money.

“I knew I just wanted more for my family. Yeah, we could have just paid our mortgage ahead or gone on vacation, but I knew I wanted more than living paycheck to paycheck. So I took the $2,000 and printed up a bunch of T-shirts.”

Give Back to the Community

Entrepreneurs are known for their kind hearts and being active members of their community. For a brand that encompasses all of the great things about New Orleans, Thom makes it a point to give back to the city that she loves.

According to Thom, “Jazz in the park is part of the culture of New Orleans and the city just couldn’t afford to keep it going. Fleurty Girl donated $10,000 to help pay the 10 bands for their opening concerts so the tradition didn’t die.”

Thom has also supported local social enterprises like Evacuteer and even raised money to help a bakery rebuild after a fire.


I'm Max and I love helping businesses we work with to expand their businesses online. I help with invoicing, time tracking and overall business needs for business owners. If you need help contact me today.

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