The same year she started her own mobile bartending business, her great-grandmother died. A month after opening her first brick-and-mortar store, her grandmother died.
At only 22-years-old, Stricen Carter made the decision to put her last semester at SUNO on hold to follow the dream of expanding her business, NOLA Sips. Now, she’s on tour with one of New Orleans biggest social media moguls, Jesseca Dupart.
When did you start NOLA Sips?
“During Essence Fest 2017. It was a vision, it started off when I wrote it down on paper. NOLA Sips are packed signature cocktails crafted by me. The fun, festive flavors and convenient packaging for on-the-go is what makes us unique.”
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How’d you grow your business?
“We grew our large fan base through working a lot of events, popup shops, every second line and also being in We Dat’s Chicken and Shrimp Restaurant after a month of being in business. My Instagram grew through my hustle. Me going everywhere, handing out business cards and just branding myself. I put more of my personal experiences and personal struggles, and my strong faith on Instagram. It started to become not about the drinks, people became inspired by my journey.”
Tell me about the snowball stand.
“NOLA Sips are the pouches, and Sweet Thangs by Nola Sips is the snowball stand. I recently lost my grandmother two weeks after getting the snowball stand, and I lost my great grandmother a year ago, which was a few months into us having NOLA Sips. It just seemed like I turned my pain into power with this and gave it everything.”
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What are some of the things that you offer at the stand?
“I do a Rotel dip, and it’s popular to get crawfish added it. Since I’m new to the snowball market I had to be unique and put my own touch on it. So, Sweet Thangs offers designer snowballs. They are overloaded with toppings and stuffings. For example, we have a strawberry shortcake, which is one of our bestsellers. It’s stuffed with ice cream and a strawberry shortcake Little Debbie snack in the middle and topped with condensed milk and whipped cream. We also have a Kaleidoscope flavor which is inspired by @DaRealBBJudy. I love her, she’s a big sister to me and a huge inspiration to me. It’s a rainbow snowball with Bahama mama, kiwi, and blueberry. We top it with crazy candy toppings and it’s also stuffed with candy, like Sour Patch Kids, gummy worms, gummy bears, peach rings, Nerd rope, you can get rock candy sticks, it’s unlimited toppings.”
Some people say a snowball stand is only a seasonal thing, so what’s next for Sweet Thangs and NOLA Sips?
“My mind frame is very global, it’s not just New Orleans. In the future I see myself branching out, especially with NOLA Sips. For the future with Sweet Thangs, I’m working on a trailer. So with the trailer, we can be more involved in festivals, catering gigs and being able to move the country, not just New Orleans.”
What was one the hardest things you had to go through building the business?
“I’m fresh out of college, I sat out. I sacrificed my last semester of college at SUNO to open the snowball stand. So I was prospectively graduating in May. So I have 15 hours left in my degree, so going from a student to a business owner is a huge adjustment. It’s a lot of responsibility. But, what I can say is business isn’t for the weak. As long as you put God first, you can fight any battles. There’s nothing too big with God.”