Jambalaya Girl’s CEO Kristen Preau on the importance of delegation

Kristen Preau of Jambalaya Girl

New Orleans native Kristen Preau has managed her food company, Jambalaya Girl, for over 13 years, with 10 of those selling her products in Amazon’s store. Learn how she’s running her small business with help from Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and her community of Louisiana-based Amazon sellers.

Three years after she launched her New Orleans-based food company Jambalaya Girl, owner & CEO Kristen Preau wanted to reach more customers. “I was limited at the time because I was just starting to sell in local grocery stores,” she says. “And I was reaching so many roadblocks with expansion beyond that—it was challenging to get in front of a buyer. So I looked at Amazon and thought, ’Hey, this is where you go to find customers from all over the world.’ And that allowed me to start that conversation with those customers.”

Jambalaya Girl Products

The idea for Jambalaya Girl was sparked when she set out across the country after Hurricane Katrina, cooking her dad’s jambalaya recipe at college football tailgates to raise money for her hometown of New Orleans.

“I traveled to 11 different universities all over the country, and everywhere I went, people just loved the recipe,” she says. Her efforts raised $100,000 but she never forgot all the people who’d tasted her jambalaya. “I’m like, ‘How do I get back to those people?’” she says. “Because early on, the slowest boat was to try and get into a grocery store by their house. That takes time.”

She started selling her jambalaya, gumbo, and yellow rice box mixes in Amazon’s store in 2013, opting for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), a service that allows sellers to outsource order fulfillment to Amazon. “Right off the bat, FBA made sense because of the cost savings and shipping,” she says:

I could not compete at my level. I was constantly thinking of the customer, because I knew the easiest way to lose a customer is that sticker shock in the cart when they see how much it costs to ship the product. So with FBA, when I looked at the price point, it made sense to send bulk product to the Amazon Fulfillment Center and be able to leverage Amazon’s shipping discounts for the customer to be able to get my product at a better price point.

Kristen shares two major takeaways she has learned so far during her Amazon journey:

“Amazon helps me understand my customer”

Kristen says Amazon levels the playing field for small businesses like hers, making it easier for them to connect with their customers in ways that standard retail can’t match. “One thing I absolutely love about Amazon is the access to understanding who our customers are, where they’re from, and what they’re searching for,” she says.

For me to get that type of information selling to grocery stores, I have to invest thousands of dollars—that I don’t have—in all these reports and data. My company’s too small to be able to pay for that data. And Amazon really gives a small business like mine that leg up to be able to find your customer, understand your customer, and listen to your customer that you don’t get when you sell in traditional retail.

“I learned early on not to do it all by myself”

Jambalaya Girl

Kristen Preau grew up cooking jambalaya with her dad

Kristen stresses how important it is to get help instead of doing everything on your own, another reason why she enrolled in FBA. Small businesses like Kristen’s can benefit from FBA by saving money on: warehouse space, hiring staff to choose, pack, and ship their products, and hiring an entire customer service team to handle inquiries and returns.

Kristen is also thankful that she found a local company and fellow Amazon selling partner that specializes in Amazon and ecommerce, which not only helped her business grow but also drew her attention to important things she was missing.

“As I was growing with FBA and doing it all myself, I wasn’t staying on top of the changes in cost and structures,” she says. “And they brought to my attention that there were some prices or some things I hadn’t adjusted. I was losing money. If you didn’t stay on top of it, you can really lose track of what you’re doing.”

The partnership also helped Kristen with a way to make distribution more efficient. “They were sourcing products from multiple Louisiana suppliers, mainly Louisiana food suppliers,” she says. “They combined all of our products and sent a truckload to Amazon’s fulfillment centers, as opposed to me sending through UPS or a ground route packaging. The combined truckload allowed me to send more products and send it faster than I could have done myself. That was one awesome find to avoid being out of stock during busy times.”

Did you know?
FBA can boost sales
Sellers see an average 20-25% increase in sales after adopting FBA. (Source: 2021 SMB Report). New customers have access to Amazon’s world-class customer service network, which comes with phone, chat, and email support in 15 languages.

Kristen’s next big vision is to expand her business into prepared meals and also to expand sales globally. And she’s relying on Amazon to help make both dreams a reality. “Because Amazon is one of the places where I go to find those customers and to make that initial connection with them,” she says.

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Lola Okusami
Lola Okusami
Sr. Creative Writer