Editor’s note: Writer and photographer Robert Warren likes to tell stories. With pen and lens. In a partnership with NolaVie, he offers monthly guest features concerned with the background of his in-depth, quintessentially New Orleans photo stories. Today catches up with food truck entrepreneur Barrie Schwartz, after recently tailing her at a food truck rally and wedding.
There is a prevalent lie we tell young people about dreams and success. It goes something like this: There are two paths by which you can live your life — the stable or the passionate.
In the first case you’ll get great grades in school; soar to the top of your class; find a nice tenure track in some obscure office, and have a mortgage, a wife, and one on the way by the time you’re 27. Or, if you choose to pursue the passionate life you should expect pains, struggles, mental fatigue, and the constant reality of near failure. Don’t expect to be economically stable until your mid-thirties (if ever).
As progressive as we think we are in the twenty-first century, there persists this constant, and false, belief in the dichotomy between personal satisfaction and career success.
But it is a lie, and Barrie Schwartz is proof.
Not even scratching the edge of thirty years old, she calmly manages My House NOLA, the premier food truck brokerage and production company in the city of New Orleans. She has made connections and hosts events in nearly every ward of the city and effortlessly caters weddings in the chic confines of Bevolo Lights on Royal Street.
Food and events are her passion, so it’s odd — by our dated way of thinking — to believe she can pursue these ambitions without the supposed requirements of hand wringing and teeth gnashing.
Yet somehow she persists.
Be it something about her personality and ability to innovate, or the state of the economy, the entrepreneurial spirit of the times, Barrie has found herself stable, and more often than not, stress free.
There’s no tremble in the tenor of her voice or shaky hand to indicate any nervousness as she tells me about the future of My House NOLA.
She’d like to expand catering and events production, stretch into new territory with the business. Food trucks are still at the core of what she does; the upcoming Endymion party she’s hosting at Twelve Mile Limit on February 8th will include La Cocinata and Burgers Ya Heard is evidence of that.
Still, she’s ever eager to try new things.
If any one trait can be attributed to Barrie that gives some explanatory power over the success she has had in pursuing her passion, it may be as simple as her fearlessness to try new things.
Wherever these next months take Barrie on her journey for innovation and expansion of My House NOLA, it seems clear that one of the greatest assets an entrepreneur of this generation may have is the fearlessness to try something new.
Just what are the tools of a modern entrepreneur?
The concrete and grassy lot is empty, save for the storage bin in the corner with the roll-top door, the park benches, the drying rocking horse.
The answer is a feat of organization, rather than acquisition.
With little more than a backpack, a cell phone, and the car that got her to St.Claude Avenue, Barrie is running one of the most successful new businesses in the city.
She sees herself as a liaison for foodies and food trucks, rather than the star of the show. She’s a maven in moving parts she tells me, as she finishes painting.
The lot goes live again tonight.
Barrie is in a floral print dress and finishing the last of the night’s preparations, removing the sandwich-board sign from the roll-top storage unit, texting late-comers, and guiding the trucks into their slots.
The Theo’s Pizza truck is the first to arrive, followed by Crepes a la Carte, then in a rush, Diva Dawg.
There was an issue in the regular truck, so their operating out of an alternate vehicle tonight.
The sun is quickly falling.
The food truckers are readying their tiny kitchens while the St. Claude Main Street team are bustling around a few tents near the beer table. From the street it appears a mess of moving parts in need of guidance, but it is now that Barrie takes a seat at one of the bright yellow picnic tables.
At this point, her work is finished.
Local organizations were already contacted, permits arranged, lights mounted to the telephone poles, mailers out, tweets, instagrams and emails alike. DJ Ruby is just finishing setting up.
The stage is set. That’s why she relaxes momentarily on the bench.
Her job now is to enjoy the night and build her audience. She introduces herself to the patrons as they flood in and adds them to a mailing list for future events.
DJ Ruby starts a mix of classic vinyl and the crowd quickly swells with the incoming night.
The hours fly by as a mix of neighbors and cross-town locals stop in, chat, eat, and depart again on St. Claude Avenue.
The night closes; the crowds ant trucks depart, but that’s only half of the story.
Read the My House NOLA story in its entirety here.