Prominent French Quarter Business Owners and Stars of AOL’s Reality Series Return to New Orleans for the First Time Since their 2005 Move to California

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Keith and Andre West-Harrison, stars of the AOL reality series The Start-Up, return to New Orleans for the first time since moving to California in November. They are hoping the anniversary of the Hurricane that altered their careers in the French Quarter hotel and day spa industries is a good time to go back and deal with the few remaining loose ends.

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We are among the blessed people that had a career that allowed us to work from a new location very quickly. Once we started consulting and helping people build their own product brand, our work just flourished

Keith and Andre West-Harrison, stars of the AOL reality series The Start-Up, return to New Orleans August 26 to August 29 for the first time since moving to California in November. They are hoping the anniversary of the Hurricane that altered their careers in the French Quarter hotel and day spa industries is a good time to go back and deal with the few remaining loose ends and their personal feelings about the tragedy.

“We never thought we’d have the strength to return to New Orleans as tourists,” said Andre West-Harrison, “and we have some business items we have to be in town to take care of.”

The hurricane ravaged their French Quarter home and left them uncertain of the status of their hotel and day spa for over 5 weeks. But these guys made a choice as they fled the day before Katrina blew into New Orleans: they decided to jump-start their Spa Consulting careers. This is the decision that changed their life for the better and has left them at the top of the spa consulting industry within just six months. They do work with Preston Inc. on education and brand creation for skin and body products at Preston Inc.

West-Harrison still have ties to New Orleans through their subleased coffeehouse located in the 800 block of North Rampart. They also have been struggling with their mortgage company Liberty Bank over what they feel is an incorrect payoff on their mortgage.

“Returning to New Orleans was a hard decision for us to make,” said Keith, “but we finally are at a point where we want to go back.

As owners of the top-rated spa in New Orleans, Keith & Andre spent seven days a week growing their spa business and making the spa more profitable. This left little time for dinning out, let alone working on their consulting careers.

Once it was clear to them that the vast flooding meant no quick return to their French Quarter home, they started consulting through Preston Inc. The Santa Cruz, California based consulting and private label product manufacturer had done work with Keith and Andre before the storm, and even trained them in formalized consulting methods.

“We are among the blessed people that had a career that allowed us to work from a new location very quickly. Once we started consulting and helping people build their own product brand, our work just flourished,” said Keith.

Quickly becoming the spa leaders in retail sales strategies, Keith and Andre picked up several major accounts and grew their consulting and training portfolio to include clients from Los Angeles to London, England.

Back in New Orleans after the evacuation order was lifted, Keith & Andre quickly reopened their hotel and day spa and sold it to a group of local investors. By the first week of December the guys had made the 40-hour drive across Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to their new home in the mountains outside Santa Cruz, California.

“It is really amazing to look back on our struggle since the evacuation and see how well things have turned out,” said Andre, “We just got back from a week in LA consulting on day spa start-ups and employee trainings.”

Keith & Andre’s entire journey from day spa owner to spa consultant has been chronicled as part of the AOL Small Business reality series The StartUp at AOL for Small Business. The coverage includes their return after the hurricane.

“We’ve come a long way!,” said Keith, “We are very happy with how our lives have changed.”

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Keith West-harrison