Those of us with far-flung friends and family know the story well: Raiding the shelves of mom-and-pop shops for those exclusively local goodies, stuffing it all into a box and shipping it off to our homesick loved ones.
For Tara and Brett Guidry, mailing out care packages of local goods from their home in Lafayette to family all over the country has been a way of life for years.
“We’d have to ship stuff from Baton Rouge to California and Alaska. We’d have to ship Houma staples to Brett’s sister in Tennessee,” Tara says. “I was taking Swamp Pop, Blue Runner white beans and Community Coffee to family in Arkansas to the point where we had more Cajun food in our car than we did luggage.”
Already a longtime subscriber to curated boxes for clothing and diapers, Tara says the idea to transform their care packages into a small business came to them naturally. “You should start a subscription box for Cajun food,” Brett suggested one day. He already had a name picked out: Cajun Crate.
The idea was that for a monthly fee, Cajun Crate would arrive at your door anywhere in the U.S. with five to seven different dry mixes, sauces, dressings and other goods each month.
Tara, an operations manager for The Orchard Apple Specialist turned stay-at-home-mom, always dreamed of starting her own business. After seeking business advice and drawing up plans, Cajun Crate grew into a fully formed vision for a monthly delivery service of local products. After launching a Facebook page to test the brand’s reach, Cajun Crate racked up 600 likes in the first three days and has only grown from there.
The service has already secured partnerships with several Baton Rouge culinary power players, including Jay Ducote, Hanley’s Foods and The Cajun Spoon, as well as brands across the state, like Cajun Power and Acadian Coffee Roasters.
“These box and crate companies are really popular right now and are a great way for people to get a taste of all sorts of different products. It really makes sense for Cajun Crate to be boxing up Louisiana flavors and sending them all over the country,” says Jay Ducote, whose Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and Molasses Mustard are included in the service.
Tara explains that Louisiana residents can enjoy the box just as much as anybody else, as many of the products can’t be found at your local grocer.
“It’s stuff that’s not in all the grocery stores yet. We’re going to farmers markets in Lake Charles. We go to Baton Rouge,” Tara says. “There are things that are so local you can only get them in certain parishes, and you have to stock up when you see them. We’re bringing that to you.”
The Cajun Crate team recently launched a Kickstarter campaign through June to raise the $20,000 needed to cover inventory and startup costs, complete with Cajun-themed donation levels and prizes of cooked meals donated to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. If all goes well, the Guidrys hope to have Cajun Crate fully launched and shipping out by late August or early September.