While some women may choose to hit the brake pedal on their careers after having children, Natalie Noel is not one of them. This mom of two and former college basketball player worked in New York and Washington, D.C. before starting her own firm, Tech Advocate Group, in Baton Rouge in 2012. Since then, she’s founded two more companies—The Healing Sole with Dr. Meredith Warner and the Noel Family Distillery in Donaldsonville—and has plans to launch a new hemp company, The Well Theory, later this year.
The Network recently chatted with Noel about her career and her life in the Capital Region.
Why become an entrepreneur?
I had always known I wanted to go in business. I’ve worked for great companies and not-so-great companies, and the not-so-great ones inspired me that I could go out on my own and do a better job and service people in a better way.
Highlights would be getting my MBA and then meeting Dr. (Meredith) Warner. She and I founded quite a few businesses together—I run the day-to-day operations—and we grew Healing Sole to almost 50,000 customers worldwide. With Tech Advocate Group, that’s been a labor of love that I started six years ago. It’s grown and I now have six people now full time. We also have another company launching in couple of months.
Key business influences?
Ezra Firestone, Robert Cialdini and Jay Abraham
I worked for a woman named Patricia Welther, an entrepreneur. Almost right out of college, she took me under her wing and invited me to every field meeting we had. She asked me my opinion, and when you’re young, that has a profound impact. That empowered me moving forward to make sure I participated, spoke up, said what I was thinking and took part in a conversation. She taught me a lot about technology and how to ask great questions.
How can we encourage more women to start their own business?
I think there’s never going to be perfect time to start a business, and it’s hard. Have a good mind, good product, good people and access to capital. Be confident. Ask people for help and ask questions. It can be easy to start a business if you have good product and are solving a problem.
Local female leaders you look up to?
Meredith Warner and Kelly Hurtado
Favorite part about living in the Capital Region?
The business climate here has always treated me very well, from when I just got started to today. When starting all these companies, when I’d have to meet other business owners, I always felt like we had a chance to compete and business was fair. And Abita Strawberry Lager.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It’s very challenging. We have two kids, so I have a nanny for kids, and I’m always making sure that when I’m at work, I’m working. I don’t leave my desk and I get everything done between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to be home at 5 p.m. When at home, I do my best to put phone down and give my kids all the attention they need.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would you choose?
Michael Jordan, from 20 years ago, and Jeff Bezos
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
With (Warner) and I running five successful companies. I expect to expand product lines tremendously, grow our team of people and helping many more people with health and wellness.