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Louisiana District Office
365 Canal St. Suite 2820
New Orleans, LA 70130
United States
Phone: 504-589-6685
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cindy Conde

SBA loan helps Total Woman wardrobe women for success

Total Woman originated on the North shore in Covington in 1979 and expanded its operation to Uptown New Orleans on Magazine Street nearly 10 years ago. Cindy Molezion Conde is the chief executive officer of Total Woman. Conde was born in New Orleans in 1959 and studied Art at the University of New Orleans in the late 70s. She got her first job at First NBC bank in 1981. Her banking career ended in when she resigned from First Bank & Trust as the President in Marketing 27 years later. “I decided that it was time for me to dedicate my skills and talents to managing my own business and I began to research opportunities to purchase an established business,” Conde said.

Through a group of local business brokers Conde was made aware of Total Woman being for sale and she began the process of negotiating with the previous owners in January 2008. On April 30, 2009, with the help of a $210,000 U.S. Small Business Administration loan through First NBC Bank, Conde closed on the purchase of Total Woman and successfully transitioned ownership of the business without disruption.

While clothing women in New Orleans and the surrounding markets for over 30 years Total Woman offers a mix of classic and fashion forward clothes to women of all ages. The Total Woman customer is a college student, a young mom, the professional career woman and the retiree.

“We wardrobe a woman from work to play and from night to day,” Conde said. “We teach women how to interchange their wardrobe to create many different looks.”

Total Woman’s goal is to give every customer a fun and comfortable shopping experience that empowers them with confidence and shows them that every woman has the right to feel beautiful. Total Woman customers trust that they will seek out new designers and bring them the best that fashion has to offer to keep them on trend while knowing that what we bring to the store is not in today and out tomorrow.

Total Woman is located in the heart of the shopping district on Magazine Street. Sales have grown steadily over the past few years since the acquisition of Total Woman in April 2009. The staff strives each day to develop new strategies to build on their client base by identifying and targeting similar client profiles. Total Woman improved those efforts significantly with social media through Facebook and Twitter, internal email marketing with promotional offers, with its website presence as well as with print marketing in local magazines such as the New Orleans Magazine and the St. Charles Avenue Magazine.

Giving back through Community Service is also important to Total Woman. The company partners with various non-profit organizations throughout the New Orleans and with various fundraisers such as the New Orleans Mission, Children’s Hospital, NDF, SPCA, The Children’s Museum, NOCCA, and more.

“The role of the Small Business Administration and the significance and impact it has had in my life over the last few years is enormous. Without the instruction, guidance and training it offered me through the local Urban League of New Orleans Office and the funding facilitated through First NBC Bank for my acquisition of Total Woman, I would not have been afforded the opportunity for entrepreneurship.” said Conde.

After almost three and a half Total Woman is continuing to see growth and progress and Conde plans to build the company’s brand and expand operations into other markets.

St. Martin Brown & Associates- New Orleans, LA

St. Martin Brown & Associates, LLP is a design, planning, and project management consulting firm formed in December 2005 by Joseph St. Martin and Deron Brown.   Together both Brown and Martin have over twenty years of combined expertise in planning and architectural design in projects ranging from $50K to over $400M. The company is recognized in the design of a range of building types including department of defense, adaptive reuse, frisked based operation terminals, casinos, churches, convention centers, entertainment/themed projects, resorts, hotels office buildings, and recreational facilities.

The company’s mission is to achieve excellence in design through the orchestration of a highly skilled professional team working together to communicate and express our client’s needs and visions making them reality.  Awards and Designation include: Official Architecture Firm of the New Orleans Saints; the 2009 Excellence in Construction of the New Orleans and Bayou Chapter of ABC and ; Reinventing the Crescent 2008 ASLA Honor Award in Analysis and Planning.

Mr. St. Martin is the CEO of St. Martin Brown & Associates, LLP.  His career expertise has afforded him the extensive knowledge in urban planning, historical restoration, damage inspections, emergency planning and management, and community based design. In 2005, St. Martin Brown & Associates was selected to lead the recovery planning process for 4 of the city’s most devastated planning districts. The area comprised over 75% of the city’s landmass. Over the years, with the assistance of its Small Business Administration certification as an 8(a) firm, Joseph has been able to evolve the firm from a two person operation to now over 10 employees. With continued growth in the design and management field St. Martin Brown is providing support staff to manage the $1.8 billion School rebuilding program as well as the multibillion City of New Orleans Federal Grants Management program.

Recently St. Martin Brown was selected by ESPN to lead a new inspirational makeover series for high school athletic facilities around the country. The pilot episode for ESPN “Rise Up” was shot here in New Orleans at McMain Secondary School. On the show, St. Martin Brown and Associates, LLP rebuilds the damaged athletic facilities at McMain Secondary School.  The show was very inspirational and breathtaking causing some of the coaching staff and parents of the students to shed tears because they finally felt someone cared about them.  The show was so well received the network decided to create a full series. St. Martin Brown is currently under contract to manage and oversee there seasons totaling 20 episodes. Season One is currently underway with episodes being shot in Chicago, Ohio, Boston and Seattle. The one hour long episodes are set to air on ESPN 1 beginning September 13, 2011 thru October 4, 2011 and will run each consecutive Tuesday night at 7:00pm ET, 6:00pm CT.

Mr. St. Martin said “I love helping other people especially when they need help” Mr. St. Martin also finds time to provide back to the local community. For the last three years he has served as a commissioner for the Audubon Commission. He is also a board member of the newly formed (C.L.A.S.S.) Fannie C. Williams Charter School and LSU School of Architecture Professional Advisory Board.

Small Business Owner Finds Success and High Growth with 8(a) Program

Ronald Wilkerson built his energy industry consulting business one contract at a time, from a one-man shop with no track record and $10,000 in sales to a 370-employee company with more than $23 million in annual revenue - in less than 10 years.

Critique Resource Consulting, a U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a)-certified firm, provides budgetary and administrative support to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and support services for the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies. Critique's primary business base is centered on the energy and energy-related fields.

Before he started Critique, Ron had more than 17 years of financial management and business analytical experience, so when he started the company, he already had the background and experience to methodically build an infrastructure to make Critique viable in both its business operations and contract execution.

Even though Ron brought built-in knowledge about many of the regulations associated with federal contracting, he admits that initially, it was a struggle trying to secure contracts. Critique had no previous track record and obviously could not instantly demonstrate its capacity to satisfy client needs. Slowly, however, Critique began to win very small contracts and used these opportunities to diligently work toward the basic goal - exceeding client expectations. This built an excellent performance record and was the key that eventually opened doors to more lucrative contracts.

The primary lesson that Critique has learned and has since employed during its existence is that: the work we do today may not pay off until sometime in the future.

During its transitional stage in the 8(a) program, Critique continued its growth by competing for both 8(a) and non-8(a) contracting opportunities. Critique used its transitional stage in the 8(a) program to refine its technical and marketing abilities while also focusing more on the full and open competitive procurement marketplace.

Achieving these objectives provided Ron with significant but stable growth while simultaneously maximizing use of the 8(a) program to develop his company into a viable and competitive firm capable of main-streaming into the business world upon graduation. In fact, Critique is doing just that. To date, its largest 8(a) contract was for $24 million with the Department of Energy, while its largest non-8(a) contract was $35 million with Wackenhut Services.

Critique has grown from a local firm to one that is national in scope. Critique has expanded its operations and has been awarded contracts and subcontracts in various locations. Critique is dedicated to bettering its local environment through community participation as well as mentoring other small businesses by sharing "lessons learned" and providing guidance. As such, Critique has entered into a mentor/protege agreement, and competed as the Louisiana district office's approved 8(a) mentor/protege team and won a nationwide 8(a) $6.6 million contract to perform facilities support at DOE's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The total value of this contract, including all options, will be in excess of $11 million.

Ron encourages his employees to volunteer in community efforts, and takes pride in the fact that he is also able to provide financial support to a number of charitable organizations. In addition, Critique has also contributed to the New York Police & Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund, which assisted the families of fallen New York City firefighters by providing aid to family members to assist with immediate expenses.

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