LSU AgCenter Helping Louisianans Become Better Entrepreneurs

Jan Hicks, Coolman, Denise, Cross, Deborah C.  |  12/21/2005 3:39:12 AM

Agnes Hicks is an 82-year-old self-taught artist who paints her memories of growing up in Franklin Parish. Hicks attended an LSU AgCenter workshop titled "My Own Business" and learned, among other things, how to build a Web site from which to sell her paintings.

Patricia Flowers is the owner of Bayou Soy Candles in Franklin Parish. Flowers learned how to start her own business – making and selling soybean wax candles – when she participated in the LSU AgCenter's "My Own Business" workshop. Now Flowers' business has grown so much that she has purchased larger equipment and is considering moving the business out of a spare room in her home and into its own building.

News Release Distributed 12/20/05

The LSU AgCenter is helping Louisiana residents expand their businesses and advertise their goods to larger audiences.

One part of that assistance comes through a workshop titled "My Own Business," which LSU AgCenter agents are teaching in different areas across Louisiana.

"This is a wonderful workshop to use to teach people about starting their own businesses," said Dr. Jan Hicks, a project coordinator with the LSU AgCenter. "It teaches about time management, financial management, writing a business plan, finding financial resources and other issues entrepreneurs need to know to make their businesses successful."

The "My Own Business" workshop has proven beneficial to Louisiana residents, according to LSU AgCenter agent Deborah Cross, who says 27 workshops have been offered so far – mostly in the Mississippi Delta area of the state, as well as in Iberia Parish.

"We’ve heard several different comments about how interesting and informative the workshop is," Cross said. "Some of the things participants like include learning how to start their own businesses. The workshop also teaches about the decision-making process and exit strategies, as well as writing business plans."

Rural communities throughout the state have an abundance of labor just waiting to be recognized, Cross said. The LSU AgCenter has workshops, such as the "My Own Business" workshop, that can be used to help people living in rural areas realize their potential to be entrepreneurs and to start their own businesses.

Franklin Parish is one part of the state where the workshop has been especially helpful to residents.

Agnes Hicks is an 82-year-old self-taught artist from Winnsboro who paints her memories of growing up and living in Franklin Parish. It was in the LSU AgCenter workshop that she learned how to build a Web site from which she could advertise and sell her paintings.

"I had been wanting to put up a Web site so that I could get more publicity for my paintings," Hicks said. "I knew a Web site would attract more people, but I didn’t know how to go about putting one up."

A retired schoolteacher, Hicks attended one of the LSU AgCenter workshops and, as a result, has a Web site at www.agneshicksart.com. She has had the site for about two years and has been successful in selling her paintings of landscapes and scenes from early 20th Century African American life to people all over the United States.

"The AgCenter has been very helpful for me," she said. "I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I hadn’t attended the class."

Patricia Flowers is another woman who has benefited from the LSU AgCenter’s workshops. Flowers is owner of Bayou Soy Candles and Products, a business she runs from her own house. She started the business as a way to earn money to help send her son to college.

"I had been wanting to make candles to sell," Flowers said. "But I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to make the same type of candles everyone else was making. I attended the AgCenter’s ‘My Own Business’ workshop, and it was during the workshop that I realized the potential for a successful business in making soy candles."

Flowers runs her business out of her house. She turned one of her bedrooms into a "candle room," where she takes and fills orders for candles, soaps and lotions. Her business is growing so fast that Flowers has had to buy a water jacketed wax melter with a 75-pound capacity. She also plans to put a building in her yard and move the wax melter and other supplies into the new building.

"Before I bought the melter, I was melting 2 ½ pounds of (soybean) wax at a time in my microwave," Flowers said. "This (melter) is going to make things a lot easier."

Flowers also learned about building a Web site to advertise her wares. Her Web site can be found at www.bayousoycandles.com.

For more information about these LSU AgCenter workshops, as well as a variety of other research and educational programs related to economics, finances, health, agriculture and more, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contacts:
Deborah Cross at (225) 687-5155 or dcross@agcenter.lsu.edu
Jan Hicks at (318) 435-2903 or jhicks@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 547-0921 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

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