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Interview: Lovey Wakefield

Co-founder, nolacajun.com

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Lovey Wakefield is a native of Erath, a Cajun hamlet just south of Lafayette, and her husband Brett Wakefield is from New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, they lived in Houston and were unable to get some of the Louisiana foods they wanted to eat.

  That inspired them to launch NolaCajun.com (877-789-6652; www.nolacajun.com), an e-commerce business that functions like an online Louisiana grocery. They now stock 500 different Louisiana food products and other goods and ship around the world. The Wakefields moved to New Orleans in 2009.

You've said holidays are your busiest time, but what are some other spikes in demand for Louisiana foods?

Wakefield: We discovered quickly that we're a very seasonal business. Our big, big time is from October to May because that's also the tourism season when people are thinking about New Orleans and seeing New Orleans in the media. And any time the Saints are doing well, we're doing well, because people keep hearing about New Orleans that way too.

What do you stock beyond the well-known Louisiana brands?

W: There are so many little mom-and-pop businesses that make great products but don't have the money for a big web presence and can't get into stores beyond the little groceries in their towns, so we offer access to them. There are items like pickled quail eggs or pickled mirliton, just because pickling whatever you have on hand is such a country thing to do around here. But we don't do pickled pig feet. We can get them no problem, but I just don't want to look at them.

So besides pigs' feet, do you have to turn other items away?

W: We're very specific that whatever we carry has to have a Louisiana connection. People buy Big Shot Soda by the truckload, and even though it's not made here any more, it was once and it's still synonymous with New Orleans for a lot of people, so we'll carry that. We also have to stick closely with FDA rules. So someone will occasionally ask if we can carry their blood boudin. Well, as much as I know my customers would love that, I just can't do it. — IAN MCNULTY

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