Callin’ Baton Rouge

Meredith Waguespack builds a pride of place empire in Louisiana’s Capital City

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The only thing in the back was a car seat and boxes of dreams. This is how Meredith Waguespack took to the road at age 31 to drive from Lafayette to New Orleans, trying to kickstart her clothing line by stopping at any boutique and gift shop she could find and asking if they wanted to stock her then-modest collection of children’s football-themed T-shirts — of course in the home team palettes of purple-and-gold and black-and-gold.

“There were no meetings or calls ahead, so I’d walk in, show off the shirts, we’d sign the invoice, and I’d get paid on the spot,” the now 44-year-old multi-business entrepreneur recalls. “That was pure determination.”

Launching a new brand out of your car is one thing, but starting a new chapter in life with a big move is exactly what Waguespack was doing 12 years before her foray into local shirt designs when she drove south down I-49 from the quiet farmlands of tiny Athens in north Louisiana, and east across the I-10-topped Atchafalaya Basin into the Capital City.

“I remember going over the bridge near downtown Baton Rouge just thinking, ‘This is a whole new life for me, a fresh start,’” Waguespack says. “I still get chills when I go over that bridge because of the intense feeling of the first time crossing the river and knowing this was going to be my new home.”

The energetic feeling heralded and hollered in LSU’s unofficial game-day jam, Garth Brooks’ “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” colored her first several years in the city as she earned her marketing degree and consulted with Kadair’s, a camera store and film developer, and other small businesses. The hit song and her instant crush on the Red Stick made such an impression, she knew she wanted to call her brand Sweet Baton Rouge.

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Though she still considers hers a small business, dozens of shops across the state have become fast buyers of her expanded line that includes Louisiana-inspired hats, socks, tea towels and jewelry. One of the first shop owners was Britney Burton of Simply Chic in Bossier City. Burton immediately loved Sweet Baton Rouge’s celebration of all things unique to Louisiana.

“Meredith has been successful because [she has] kept her business personal even with the extreme growth in her clientele,” Burton says.

With this, Waguespack agrees. She’s always producing designs and products for her age and demographic, and that’s not going to change.

“Our Sweet & Southern line caters to a whole audience outside of Baton Rouge and Louisiana,” she says. “It’s ‘90s country music. It’s Dolly Parton and ‘Steel Magnolias.’ I started this in my 30s, and the demographic has just grown and aged with me.”

After organizing large-scale pop-up markets at Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, Waguespack opened a brick-and-mortar Sweet Baton Rouge in 2020, as well as the gift boutique Local Supply next door, though she sold her stake in Local Supply at the end of 2022.

Sweet Baton Rouge’s Lagniappe Box is a unique subscription service offering a curated collection of local goods and gifts delivered quarterly with themes of Mardi Gras, Crawfish, Game Day and Holidays.

Waguespack’s husband Bart is a contractor, and together they own the Library Wine & Provisions, a new bar and upscale eatery in Gonzales, carrying on Waguespack’s focus on building community and fostering collaboration with every new venture.

With Sweet Baton Rouge steadily growing, the entrepreneur has returned to her marketing roots by Nouveau Consulting to personally help small businesses effectively reach their audiences, and she’s in the early planning phase for a biannual print publication filled with artist stories, local makers and quality Louisiana goods.

“We want to be able to come back to that place where it all started for us by creating a community,” Waguespack says. “Storytelling is a great way to do that through the eyes of Sweet Baton Rouge.”

Waguespack is a study in resiliency and self-determination. She went back to college at age 23. She didn’t start her business until she was in her 30s. For Waguespack, it’s never been too late to try.

“I’m always tickled with the way I grew up in such a small town, that I’m not from this area, but I chose to make Baton Rouge my home,” Waguespack says. “And hopefully I’m creating some kind of legacy for myself to give back in some way to the city that took me in when I was 19. I want to make a real impact here in the long run.



When you’re not working, where could we find you having fun and hanging out? I love the LSU Lakes, either walking around them or running them. Working out and being physically fit is really important to me, so I also enjoy taking work out classes around Baton Rouge and hosting different collab workouts through our page @donstopjustgeaux on Instagram. For dinner, we enjoy Superior Grill anytime, whether in Shreveport, Baton Rouge or New Orleans, but the location on Highland Road in Baton Rouge is my absolute favorite. On the road, I always love visiting Natchitoches, such a hidden little gem.

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself since you’ve become an entrepreneur?  I’ve learned to stay focused on my goals and not what others around me are doing. I’ve learned to not compare myself and my journey of where I am with others people. And I’ve learned to be happy right where I am.

If you could collaborate with any celebrity on a shirt or other clothing item, who would you want to work with and why? I would love to work with Joe Burrow from a gameday perspective for designs, but for fun, I would love to work with Dolly Parton. I just love her wit and wisdom that she has shared with us all these years.


Categories: Louisiana Made