Episode 128: NOLA Boards Owner Encourages Gift Givers to ‘Shop Local’
This week’s guest is Mandy Simpson, owner of NOLA Boards, a New Orleans-based maker of handcrafted cutting boards, countertops, furniture and more. She talks about how celebrity chef Rachael Ray helped boost her business, the importance of supporting local retailers during the holiday shopping season — and her big plans to take her business on the road.
Mandy Simpson, a New Orleans native, started her career in photography working for CNN after hurricane Katrina, and later went on to become a clinical social worker in the field of heart transplants, helping develop the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) program at Ochsner Hospital. In 2014, she joined forces with her husband Daren Sumrow of New Orleans Woodworking to create NOLA Boards, a retail brand known for handmade culinary tools, kitchen countertops and dining furniture. In 2015, NOLA Boards was named the “No. 1 gift to give” in a holiday guide from celebrity chef Rachael Ray. In 2016, Simpson launched her first retail store in New Orleans and, in 2018, her products were featured on Good Morning America. Her role at NOLA Boards ranges from designing products to business development and marketing as well as a focus on regional growth. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in social work from Tulane University. She is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, where she now serves as an alumni ambassador. She has served as VP of marketing for the American Business Women’s Association New Orleans Chapter and currently sits on the board of Power of Women.