At 40 years old, Anne Milneck describes herself as “late to the party.”
The mother of two earned a bachelors of science in culinary arts at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in 2010 and soon after began her own catering business.
“It was really tough on my family,” Milneck tells Business Report in its new Entrepreneur feature. So when the retiring owners of Red Stick Spice Co. offered Milneck—a regular customer and friend—the opportunity to buy the store in late 2012, it felt like a perfect fit.
“It kept me around what I like, food and cooking, but got me out of the stress and tough parts of running an actual food business,” she says.
Milneck turned to her husband, Greg—founder and president of local production studio Digital FX—for help spicing up Red Stick Spice Co.’s brand and marketing efforts.
Red Stick’s reputation for offering a variety of high-quality spices, teas, oils and vinegars served as a strong foundation, and Milneck sought early on to build on the business model by introducing new product lines, changing the “look and feel’ of the labels, revamping the website and growing online sales.
She also knew early on she needed a new location with better visibility and parking. Following a successful pop-up event at Mid City’s White Light Night, Milneck set her sights on the neighborhood. In the meantime, she opened Red Stick’s second location at the Main Street Market and launched wholesale accounts with local supermarkets like Calandro’s, Alexander’s and Rouses. But perhaps the most fundamental change in the business model was Milneck’s shift away from catering to foodies.
“I’m a chef, but first a home cook and a mom,” she says. “My expertise lies in really being able to connect with home cooks so that is what we are all about.”