After a year of wholesaling to retailers around the country, we had yet to get any accounts in Louisiana, and we thought that was a little unfair to y'all. So, we decided to hit the road to find amazing retailers to give our customers in the lovely state the chance to get a hands-on Valere Rene shopping experience.
My daughter, Emory, and I hit the road straight from our fall photo shoot on Monday, July 11th. We stayed the night in Caddo Valley, AR, and then set out for Shreveport that Tuesday.
First thing, we went into a great little shop in Bossier City, a town right outside Shreveport. The shop was " Branded Boutique," and we were greeted by the bright, smiling face of its owner, Chelsea. We loved all her faith based brands and fun style, so we left her product and a fall catalog to browse. A few days later, she became our very first retailer in Louisiana. That first stop set the tone for a perfect trip.
We visited more shops in Bossier City and Shreveport, and then we were off to Ruston. There, we fell in love with the cute college town and its fun boutiques. We handed out a few catalogs, crossed our fingers, and were on our way.
We decided to tackle two cities Thursday. First stop: Natchitoches. We had heard that Steel Magnolias was filmed there, so we knew it was going to be a cute little town. As we drove in, we were awed by the gorgeous buildings and a beautiful garden with fountains. We loved the charming boutiques and even found another maker from Hot Springs, " Bathhouse Soapery." We topped the stay off with amazing meat pies from the famous Lasyone's.
After lunch, we were off to Alexandria. Though our stop there was short, we found some super cute gift shops that we thought Valere Rene would fit well in. We drove to Lafayette and hit the sack in anticipation of another great day.
We immediately fell in love with Lafayette. We found amazing little boutiques and gift shops that we really believe would love our bags. We spent the whole day driving around the town scouting shops and touring the gorgeous University of Louisiana campus, so we treated ourselves to some yummy Italian food (did I mention my gluten-free diet went out the window this week??). Heading back to the hotel that night, we were pooped but ready for another day.
We hit the road Saturday and stopped in all kinds of fun towns along the way. We saw many potential retailers, including our new found friends at " It's All About You Interiors" and " The Potting Shed." Finally, we made it to New Orleans, greeted by amazing people at the Hotel Monteleone. Exhausted, we decided to eat in the hotel (best choice ever!). " Criollo" in Hotel Monteleone, we found, has the best lamb ever and stinking amazing food all around. We took our dessert to-go and crashed in our room.
Our first day was spent touring the city. We started the morning with the perfect New Orleans brunch at " Brennan's." The rest of the day we walked all around the French Quarter in New Orleans shopping, touring, listening to great music, and eating every chance we could get. One of our favorite shops turned out to be another maker, " Nola Couture," who makes amazing ties, bowties, belts, and so much more with awesome unique designs. We decided to test out the local cuisine, eating at " Acme" for appetizers, " Nola" for dinner, and " Sucré" (ahhhmazing) for dessert. Our first day was a success.
The next morning, the past seven days of travel hit us hard. We wanted to stay in most of the day, but I had a dream that I needed to do more. Monday morning we went out and gave out lunch to some of the homeless in the area. I knew God wanted me to do some good in the midst of so much bad in the world. John 8:12 only confirms that; " When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" In the afternoon we spent our time complying emails and other business duties but did get out some to scout for retailers. Another day, another amazing meal at "Criollo" and a great night sleep in our hotel room.
We wanted to make our last day in the city count. We ate a quick breakfast in the hotel and then ventured out, still searching for retailers. We walked New Orleans all day and of course had to stop for a mid-afternoon snack at the amazing " Cafe Du Monde." We made the biggest mess, even getting sugar on our bags (good thing they're washable!). We listened to more amazing jazz and headed over to " Mr. B's" for a great dinner to close our great trip.
So, now I am laying in bed exhausted from our long week but so excited to see what will come from it. Thank you all for all the support on our travels, and we will see y'all back in NWA!