I’m recently back from a trip to New Orleans, and what impressed me as much as anything was the level of local entrepreneurial spirit and robustness of home-grown businesses.

My four favorite local biz picks are below. Be sure to check them out if you’re headed to the Big Easy… but even if you’re not, you can find all of these interesting entrepreneurs and their fantastic products online.

*Dirty Coast: 5704 Magazine Street OR www.dirtycoast.com
“…a city with 2-million t-shirt shops in the French Quarter and none of them were worth wearing.”
It’s a description that could be applied to most tourist-destination cities, but Dirty Coast founders decided cheesy t-shirts did not need to be the NOLA norm. Instead, they rolled out some whip-smart sayings and some witty designs and printed their tees on American Apparel shirts using lead-free inks at a local shop.

Shirts range in price from $10 to $25. Check out my favorites: “Onward. Upward. 9thWard.” and “Be a New Orleanian Wherever You Are.”

Dirty Coast also makes and sells stickers and other gear, my faves being the Geauxbama sticker and “Da Mayor in Your Pocket,” your very own portable Mayor Nagin.

*Joshua Lee Nidenberg’s Photography: www.joshualeestudio.com
Joshua Lee Nidenberg is a local photographer whose passion for New Orleans is evident in his work. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, you can meet Joshua and view his work at one of the city’s many art fairs (schedule is available on his website). His portfolio is also available on his website.

*Forrest Bacigalupi’s Handmade Jewelry: www.artskinetic.com
I met Forrest at the Palmer Park Art Fair and loved his handmade necklaces and earrings. They’re super creative and super affordable. If you can’t find him at one of the many art fairs around town, check out his website.

*Hometown Writers: Local writers–whether natives or transplants–are keeping New Orleans on the literary map with great books like Sara Roahen’s Gumbo Tales and Billy Sothern’s Down in New Orleans. Grab a copy at independent booksellers like Octavia Books or the quirky Faubourg Marigny Arts & Books on Frenchman Street.

Photo: smwarnke4 (creative commons)

What are your favorite local businesses? Share your favorite cities and their local entrepreneurs in the comments below.

For more news from New Orleans, check out this audio slideshow on my website, www.collazoprojects.com.