Loretta's Authentic Pralines

Title

Loretta's Authentic Pralines

Format

Video

Subject

Loretta Harrison and the success of her praline business

Description

This documentary style video tells the story of Loretta Harrison and includes detailed accounts from her son, Robert Harrison.

Creator

Kalyn O'Quinn and Alexis Richardson

Source

My Nola My Story via YouTube

Publisher

Mass Communication Department at Xavier University of Louisiana

Date

13th April 2022

Contributor

Robert Harrison and Loretta's Authentic Praline Staff

Rights

My Nola My Story

Relation

My Nola My Story 2022

Language

English

Type

Imovie, Video

Coverage

A Digital Humanities project by Xavier University of Louisiana's Mass Communication department students, led by Dr. Shearon Roberts

Original Format

Transcription

Kalyn: Loretta’s Authentic Pralines is a local praline and confectionery shop, owned by a woman named Loretta Harrison. Ms. Loretta was deemed the first African-American woman to own and operate a praline business in the New Orleans area. Unfortunately, Ms. Loretta died due to cancer in February of 2022. Although we were not able to interview her, we were able to get into contact with one of her sons, Robert Harrison.

Alexis: According to Robert, Ms. Loretta was not your typical business owner. For one she didn’t look at people as customers. Her close relationship with God allowed her to have intimate relationships with many of her customers. Oftentimes, she would greet customers with a meal and a scripture. She even included scriptures in many of her online orders. As you can see, her praline shop was filled with scriptures and motivational quotes.

Kalyn: Mrs. Loretta first began making pralines, a recipe passed down through 5 generations, at the age of 8 with her mother on Sundays after church. In a past interview, she recalled neighbors gathering at their house just for their pralines. While working as a librarian at the LSU Medical Library, Loretta began to sell pralines to the students. In 1978, the Jazz and Heritage Festival was looking for a praline vendor. Ms. Loretta applied and won the contract as the praline vendor. From then on she serviced the Jazz and Heritage Festival for over 36 years. After Katrina hit, Ms. Loretta was given the opportunity to leave New Orleans and open shop elsewhere, but she wanted to stay with her family in New Orleans. To keep her business afloat, Ms. Loretta began selling food to draw in more customers to her candy business. Her business continued to grow and she is now remembered as the “Praline Queen”.


Alexis: With every business comes challenges. Loretta’s biggest challenge with the business was operations at a certain point. Her son revealed how difficult it was to be a single mother and a business owner. As her business grew, the demand for products increased to an unsustaining amount. In addition, Ms. Loretta’s job consisted of being the manufacturer, producer, manager, and customer service person. However, she didn’t let these challenges stop the growth and success of her business. For example, Ms. Loretta's success in her praline beignet creation won her the top prize at New Orlean’s inaugural Beignet Fest in 2016.

Kalyn:When asked what role race played in Ms. Loretta’s success as a business owner, Robert revealed that many people didn’t know Ms. Loretta was even black. Most of the time, people heard Loretta and immediately assumed white woman. The only people who knew that she was black were the customers who came inside. Robert ended this discussion with the fact that his mom always fed to a person’s good side..she embraced the good in people.

Alexis: Although Ms. Loretta’s passing was a devastating loss not only to her family, but to the entire New Orleans community, her legacy continues to live on. Her business is family owned and will be passed down to her grandchildren. When asked about any future plans for the business, Robert responded with the fact that they are always looking to expand, with examples including a larger social media presence and reaching other outlets.

Kalyn: Overall, Ms. Loretta was an extremely kind, motivated, and spiritual woman who found a passion in her craft and never stopped dreaming. She is the true definition of an outstanding black female entrepreneur.

Duration

3:36 (3 minutes and 36 seconds)

Producer

Kalyn O'Quinn and Alexis Richardson

Director

Kalyn O'Quinn and Alexis Richardson
Date Added
April 13, 2022
Item Type
Moving Image
Citation
Kalyn O'Quinn and Alexis Richardson, “Loretta's Authentic Pralines,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed June 30, 2022, https://xulamasscomm.omeka.net/items/show/208.