What sort of Tax Return Helped This Entrepreneur Land an effective Brand

The next may be the 19th in the series "Live Your Brand" where branding expert Melanie Spring takes us along on her behalf three-week road trip in the united states to meet up innovative entrepreneurs whose experiences offer lessons learned to businesses big and small.

With the tagline "Everything New Orleans," Fleurty Girl may be the place to visit for all those looking into The Big Easy. From T-shirts to gifts and full-on Mardi Gras outfits, this store gets the New Orleans brand around it. With five locations and 30 employees, many would view founder Lauren Thom’s concept as an enormous success. But what most fans don’t know could it be all started with a $2,000 tax return and an almost lawsuit.

An individual mom with three kids, Thom had an excellent job with a company car and phone plan, along with full benefits on her behalf and her family. Though it appeared like she had everything, she knew she wished to take action more with her life. With her 2009 tax-return money, she designed fun T-shirts for women, built a straightforward website and sold-out almost immediately. She reinvested her earnings into more T-shirts, expanding designs and finally opened a Fleurty Girl storefront.

Becoming the ‘Benchmark’ Brand Everyone Covets

Later that year the Saints experienced the Super Bowl, so Thom created black and gold t-shirts with “Who Dat” on leading. The store had a line nearby waiting to get these shirts. Then Thom received a cease-and-desist letter from the NFL saying she wasn’t permitted to utilize the Saints phrase. When the brand new Orleans Times and HELLO America arrived at her storefront, Thom left her job and her benefits. The story of the NFL scaring an individual mom’s T-shirt store got so much press an apology letter from the NFL came soon after. FleurtyGirl was on the map.

Six months following the first store had opened, she opened another and another every half a year until she had five stores scattered across New Orleans. FleurtyGirl was branded NOLA and is currently the area New Orleans would go to decorate for All Saints festivals, Mardi Gras, football and for custom-branded NOLA T-shirts.

Here’s how Thom went from a one-woman shop to a big brand.

1. When you hit big, surrender big. The Fleurty Girl brand celebrates New Orleans and because they make money through embracing the culture, they provide back to the town to keep its brand growing.

"Jazz in the park is the main culture of New Orleans and the town just couldn’t afford to keep it going. Fleurty Girl donated $10,000 to greatly help pay the 10 bands because of their opening concerts therefore the tradition didn’t die," explains Thom.

The business even uses arises from T-shirt sales to aid social enterprises like Evacuteer, that allows those without transportation to snag a bus seat during mandatory evacuations.

Also, whenever a local bakery burned down, Fleurty Girl made a T-shirt for them and raised $10,000 through the sales to provide bonuses to the bakery employees while they experienced the rebuild.

2. Hire for enthusiasm, teach the others. Thom’s inbox is flooded with emails from locals attempting to just work at her stores. Because each of her stores is nearly just like a museum, she hires individuals who love NOLA as much as she does. The staff must be knowledgeable about the town, its history and places to visit appease the tourists visiting the shop.

"I could teach the register to anyone, but I cannot teach people enthusiasm. You merely need to have it to work here," says Thom on her behalf policy for hiring.

With benefits like free T-shirts and a 401(k), the Fleurty Girl staff takes pride in being flirty while also being very mixed up in community. They would like to help the town thrive and keep tourists returning for more.

How THE CORPORATION Is Seeking to Rebrand a complete City

3. Use social media to teach, not sell. From day one, Thom rocked social media and built a following to preach the gospel of New Orleans. Her first real love being the town itself, she knows ways to get you to fall deeply in love with it too. Her passion fuels her fire for building Fleurty Girl, and it shows in her social-media presence. With an increase of than 18,000 Twitter followers and 70,000 Facebook likes, Fleurty Girl reaches locals and tourists alike.

"I’ve made our social media a window in to the world of New Orleans in order that natives who’ve moved away, tourists who love NOLA and locals can easily see what’s happening around the town."

She’s not only documenting what goes on at the store but has gone out and about constantly capturing NOLA-style.

Building Your Brand’s Warmth and Competence

Correction: A youthful version of the article misstated the circumstances of Thom’s job loss.

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