Many subscription-box and gift-basket companies have opened up over the last few years, offering one-time or multi-month collections of local products. From spa products to food items to T-shirts, these companies run the roads for you.
Lucie Monk Carter
Obviously, subscription boxes are popular among ex-pats looking for a taste of home. But Tara Guidry of Lafayette-based Cajun Crate says that twenty percent of her subscribers are Louisiana residents, people who just like to discover new products they mightn't have come across otherwise.
Cajun Crate is a wholly food-based box, featuring products from Tabasco- and Camellia-sized companies to less widely distributed products like Swamp Pop sodas and D'Agostino Pasta. Launched with a Kickstarter campaign in early summer, Cajun Crate's first box was shipped in August; a tailgating-themed box, it featured items like Jay Ducote's barbecue sauce and Cajun Country Popcorn Rice. The Italian-themed box, produced the next month, included amaretto flavored coffee from Acadian Coffee Roasters, Boscoli Olive Salad, and Red Stick Spice Creole Italian Blend.
Guidry plans to begin warehousing her products in the new Acadiana Food Hub incubator, which will provide opportunities for cross promotion and pollination among her fellow Food Hub-ers. "It makes me really happy, making all these little connections," she said.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Cajun Crate offers one-, three-, six-, and twelve-month subscriptions. One box is $39, with bulk discounts applied the more months you choose.
If you missed a box that you really like or want to order another because you loved it so much, that's an option too. Or shop a la carte: fill up your virtual shopping cart with Louisiana products that Guidry stands by. cajuncrate.co.
Lucie Monk Carter
Louisiana to Geaux
Brandy Hutchinson scours local farmers markets, specialty grocery stores, fruit stands, and business incubators to source the food products featured in her subscription boxes. "Believe it or not, I'll stop in a gas station. You'll be amazed what you find there," she said.
Owner and founder of this two-year-old company, Hutchinson prefers to feature up-and-coming artisans with less than five years in business because she loves to keep her offerings fresh while helping to promote folks who are just getting started. From soaps to sweets, all of the items in her boxes are Louisiana-made, and the bios of each company are included so that customers can learn about the people behind the products.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: When ordering your Geaux box, you choose from one of several categories: The Kitchen, Sweets & Such, or Pamper Yourself. Each features full-sized products that you would expect in each category. Hutchinson also periodically offers specialty boxes.
Custom orders can be accommodated and Louisiana to Geaux runs a pretty brisk corporate gift-box business—so the sky's the limit, really. But for a straightforward gift option, choose the one-, three-, six-, or twelve-month subscriptions, which average around $30 per month. louisianatogeaux.com.
Lucie Monk Carter
Raw Sugar Toffee
Lewis Savoie began the Louisiana Gift Basket Company when he moved back home from Texas twelve or thirteen years ago. He and his wife, Lynn, operating out of their home base in Clinton, Louisiana, grew the business over the next decade.
But it was one of Lynn's many projects in the kitchen that has launched the couple into their next venture: homemade raw sugar toffee sourced straight from Louisiana's sugar mills. Lynn had made the toffee for a wedding at Hemingbough, and people raved all evening long. The folks at Hemingbough called the next day wondering how to get more.
Now joining the hundreds of small cottage producers their gift-basket company has featured over the years, Lynn and Lewis are excited to be promoting their own product, Raw Sugar Toffee. Lewis, the self-proclaimed "back boy," makes the trips to the mills to pick up the raw sugar and handles marketing and sales; Lynn is the kitchen wizard.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: This holiday season, they are offering three gift packages: Grower's Delight, with 1.5 lbs of assorted raw sugar toffees in three flavors ($34); Sugar House, with 3 lbs of toffee ($65), and The Mill, with 3 lbs. of toffees and a pound of Pecan Turtles to round out the gift ($86). rawsugartoffee.com.
Lucie Monk Carter
Southern Football T-Shirts
For six years, Meredith Waguespack has been churning out t-shirts with slogans that resonate with Louisiana lovers and Baton Rouge boosters: the popular "Sweet Baton Rouge" line, "Fest Mode," "Beer and Boudin," and the like. (SFT is also the outfit responsible for the "Cajun Navy" shirts you've likely seen around, a portion of whose sales went to the Baton Rouge Food Bank in the amount, at last count, of $48,000.)
But the Baton Rouge-based t-shirt company has just recently launched its subscription box, called Local Lagniappe. The first one shipped in October, and the boxes contain a never-before-seen t-shirt design along with a few other locally curated products. Each month is themed to target pride of place; who wouldn't be proud to sport t-shirts that celebrate Louisiana Saturday Night, Taste of Louisiana, or Pecan Pie?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The subscription boxes can be purchased as singles at a cost of $35, or you can opt for a subscription that automatically renews every month. (You get a discount when you do that.)
SFT will also be selling themed gift sets for the holiday season; at $40, the gift sets each include a tote bag and a t-shirt featuring one of three designs: Cajun Navy, Sweet Baton Rouge, or Louisiana Pride. shopsft.com.