Business People of the Month: John Walker, Michelle Bolda, Cody Gros of hubley

John Walker, Michelle Bolda, Cody Gros – hubley

6160 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Phone: 800.816.9219

Article by Case Duckworth

In my talks with local entrepreneurs, I’ve found that businesses usually start in one of two ways: either they’re a passion that the founder has been able to monetize, or there is a need the founder has been able to identify and address. hubley, founded by Michelle Bolda, Cody Gros, and John Walker, is of the second type. In a series of SharePoint User Groups meetings at the library a few years ago, they discovered that a number of companies used SharePoint, but not to its full depth of capabilities. They realized that they could build a consulting business around providing services utilizing those depths, and replicate similar infrastructure to multiple clients, saving them money. That’s what hubley’s been doing for a number of clients, locally, nationally, and even globally, for the past five years. One of those clients is the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, so when I heard about hubley’s genesis here, I knew I had to get their story. I sat down with John Walker to talk about their growth, struggles, and plans for the future.

Microsoft SharePoint is a popular enterprise software for corporate intranets, which are like the Internet but private to a corporation. While intranets in general, and SharePoint in particular, can be useful for companies, John says, “most businesses don’t understand the value [SharePoint] can bring,” and end up implementing their intranet from scratch which is not always done correctly and can take a lot of time. As John and the other founders of hubley, Michelle and Cody, were meeting at the library, they realized they could save companies money by building a highly configurable intranet solution and selling it. So they built their product, leveraged existing relationships with businesses they knew were using SharePoint, and launched hubley.

That was in 2016. Five years later, they have twenty employees, clients all over the United States and even internationally, and they’re gearing up to expand even more. John told me that with their new language packs, they’re ready to expand to Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean. Though most of their team is still in Louisiana, hubley has a satellite office in Birmingham, and plans to expand even more this year. Almost all of that growth has come from organic online searches. “All our leads come through our website,” John says. “People don’t know we’re based in Louisiana until we talk to them,” which has caused a unique issue with local hiring. “We want to hire great people locally and participate in local events – we’re a good success story for Louisiana,” he says. “LED [Louisiana Economic Development] has helped tremendously. Their grants for the software development industry have allowed us to stay in Baton Rouge and hire people more quickly than we would have otherwise.”

Helming a fast-growing startup carries other challenges, too. John mentioned the managerial aspects of running a business, like invoicing, support, and payroll, were challenges, but those were mitigated by two factors: a division of labor and an open-door policy for their employees. “hubley’s founders,” he said, “have three different roles. Michelle is our operations lead, Cody is the technology visionary, and I manage business development and strategy.” Dividing the labor across those three areas of concern helped the original team procure new clients and service their existing clients’ needs as they grew. John added that they make sure to tell hires, “We’re all doing this as a team for the first time, so if you guys have any ideas or thoughts on how to improve processes, let’s chat about it.” That open-door policy, as well as a willingness to explore novel ideas, has led to hubley’s growth.

The global pandemic led to more businesses pivoting to an online-first workflow, which helped bolster hubley’s business. “It was scary in the beginning, with corporations tightening budgets,” he said, “but a lot of leadership teams figured out quickly that employees need to work together better from home, and that’s hubley. So we were able to service that need.”

I finished our interview by asking John if he had any advice for an entrepreneur starting out, or himself in the past. He said, “Stay focused on the core items you’re trying to tackle, the core needs in the marketplace. If you feel strongly that there’s a need you’re helping with, be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight.” He added, “Also, be open to team members’ feedback, and those of your clients’. And be sure to create a collaborative, welcoming atmosphere. We love working at hubley. That’s important.”

From an idea on a whiteboard at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library to a fast-growing tech start-up, hubley’s founders have pursued their vision by finding a pain-point and fixing it in their product. They’re constantly looking to improve and deliver software that can improve corporate communication within organizations. I know from experience that hubley has streamlined processes here at the Library, so I’m glad they’re here in Baton Rouge.

Garden Discoveries: Be a Bee

The Baton Rouge Botanic Garden Foundation will host a FREE Garden Discoveries series event for families with children ages 7-10 at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 12, 2021 at the Main Library at Goodwood led by Kevin Langley of the Capital Area Beekeepers Association. Attendees can register for limited in-person seating or attend virtually on Facebook Live!
Children will be able to look inside part of a real beehive, dress up in junior beekeepers’ outfits, hats and gloves, and learn how bees collect the honey and do their waggle dance to let other bees know where the good pollen is. Families will walk around the Botanic Garden with Buzzy the Bee and the Beekeepers in search of flowers with pollen and real bees! And, at the end of the hour, they will taste three local honeys and select their favorite flavor.
To attend in-person: To comply with social distancing guidelines, in-person seating is limited and registration is required to attend. Registration is available on this webpage or call 225-231-3750 for registration assistance. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
To attend virtually: View this event virtually on Facebook Live at at 10am Saturday, June 12, 2021. A recording will be available at and after the event.

Summer Movies on the Plaza

We are excited to announce that outdoor Movies at the Main Library are back! This FREE event will be outdoor only.  No indoor viewing this year.

The Lemonade Bus will be here. Please bring your own lawn chairs or blankets.

Upcoming movies:

The Princess and the Frog.  June 11. 7:00 PM
Cool Runnings.   June 18.  7:00 PM
Dora and the Lost City of Gold.  June 25  7:00 PM

Summer Reading 2021

The summer reading kickoff party on June 1st announced the best time of year – summer reading time! How will YOU get involved?

Kids ages 0-5 can join the Little Ones program. Read ten books and win prizes! For every five books you read, you get entered into a drawing for a special incentive. Slightly bigger kids ages 6-11 can sign up as Young Readers, and can receive incentives for just 300 minutes of reading between now and August 15th. Sign your child up on Beanstack today!

For teens ages 12-18, every thirty-minute reading session (up to 22) is an entry into a weekly drawing. You can collect virtual activity badges online! Adults can, too, and while their challenge is finished with just 3 completed books, additional reading gets you additional entries into the end-of-summer drawing. These challenges are also tracked through Beanstack.

Sign up for your summer reading challenge today, and keep an eye on our events calendar and our monthly magazine, The Source, for in-person events at your local library! is now LinkedIn Learning

New name, same great taste – online learning platform is now LinkedIn Learning! To log in, you’ll need your library card number and your library account password – just like logging in to reserve a book through our online catalog. You’ll find all the great classes and learning paths you know and love in a bright new package.

Never logged in to the library catalog? Check out this infoguide for a few tips on using your automatically generated password, or call us at (225) 231-3750 if you need further assistance.

Business Person of the Month: Tere and James Hyfield of Red Stick Reads

Tere and James Hyfield, Red Stick Reads
541 South Eugene Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Phone: (225) 333-8312


Years ago, when Tere and James Hyfield would talk about their dream of opening a bookshop in Baton Rouge, people told them it was a bad idea. James told me, “We went to a couple of SCORE meetings, and they’d say, ‘Bookstore, huh? Yeah, don’t do it!’ Retail’s a bad idea, and a bookstore is the worst of retail–”

“But there’s a lot of what we’ve done that makes no sense,” interjected Tere, “and we know that. And I think that’s why it’s kind of working.”

And the Hyfield’s bookshop – Red Stick Readsis working. After being a fixture of the Mid City Makers’ Market (“even though we’re not makers, exactly,” says Tere) until COVID-19 shut that down, they were approached to begin renting the Market’s old location after it moved to the Electric Depot last year. Even though the space is small, especially for a bookshop, where the conventional wisdom ties profit to square footage, James knew a book-seller’s secret from working in Barnes and Noble’s receiving dock: “[book stores] have this enormous building, with so much pride in how much they carry – you can walk in and find any book you’re looking for – but the reality of the finances is, people are only buying 100 books” at any one time, mostly pulled from best-seller lists, book clubs (think Oprah’s or Reese Witherspoon’s), and gift sets.

James and Tere knew they couldn’t compete with the big stores on inventory breadth, so they pivoted to depth. James says, “I only sell books that I either want to read, or already have read, so I can speak to what I know.” Since they’re not trying to be everyone’s bookshop (“You’re going to know very early on whether we’re the bookstore for you or not,” Tere said), they’re able to be a better bookshop for their customers, many of whom are starting to be repeats. Tere told me about one customer who loves Dolly Parton, so if she sees any Parton books in her search for new inventory, she grabs them. The repeat customers help define the store’s inventory as well – and that all lends to the neighborhood bookstore feel that James remembers from his childhood in Baton Rouge.

He told me, “There used to be this place, Elliot’s, where the Coffee Call is now. When I was seven, it was the place to go, and when I was sixteen, it was the place to go. If you were a regular – if the people who worked there knew you well enough – they’d have a stack of books waiting for you when you walked in. My dad used to go there all the time, and Elliot would pull this stack of books from behind the counter and say, ‘Here ya go, these are for you.’ It was the coolest place to go.” James’s goal with Red Stick Reads is to make it that kind of local spot. They’ve just built a community garden space next to the store, and are asking local theatre groups and bands to play in the evenings. Partly, they want to foster the kind of story-telling community that can only exist through reading books. But they also realize that, “for us to survive, we have to be ‘owned’ by a neighborhood” like Mid City.

The Hyfields chose the Mid City neighborhood for their base of operations because the neighborhood “has its mind right” for supporting local businesses. “The kind of people who shops with us,” James said, “are the kind of people who want communities to be walkable. Our landlord – who lives right behind our store, by the way – said he asked us to rent the space because he wanted a neighborhood bookstore. And you don’t get that kind of culture in a lot of Baton Rouge. You have this discrepancy between what people want, and what they’re willing to pay for – and that makes it hard for new businesses to come in and succeed. Our business requries people to spend a littel extra on a luxury product, because a book is not a necessity – except for book readers, they’ll always buy books.” Tere added, “In a lot of ways, we’re a gift shop disguised as a bookshop. For a while in the early days of the pandemic, we were a puzzle shop! But Mid-City – if we were gonna make it anywhere, we’d make it here. The people who live here are invested in their surroundings in ways we haven’t seen in other parts of town, and they’ve been incredibly supportive.”

Even though James and Tere are fairly new entrepreneurs, they had plenty of advice for people looking to start a business. Some of that advice is to scale organically and to be prepared to pivot. Red Stick Reads started as a pop-up shop at the Mid City Market, pivoted to at-home delivery and puzzles (“lots of puzzles!” said Tere) during the lockdown, and only moved into their new space at the beginning of 2021. They’ve built their shelves themselves from salvaged lumber, and haven’t had to get a business loan from a bank. The other piece of advice – and this dovetails with the organic scaling – is that there comes a point where you have to jump in to a new venture with both feet. Tere said, “It’s not just jumping though, like a leap of faith. It’s a matter of doing it while being thoughtful, doing your homework, but then you have to do something. Not start the company” – that’s too big – “but make the phone call, figure out licensing, join an organization, that kind of thing. There’s a lot of yucky work you have to do to start a business. If you’re still excited after those days, keep following that.”

James added, “If you can picture yourself doing that job for years without getting paid – the SBA says to be prepared not to make money for three to five years – if it’s something you enjoy even with that, go for it.”

Tere said, “I can live with a regret. What I can’t live with is the thought: oh, what if we had just tried, that one time when you were between Whole Foods and the other place, imagine if we would’ve jumped – that, I’d never get over.”

Article by Case Duckworth

Virtual Legal Clinics with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) are pleased to announce the launch of a new partnership for library patrons. Starting November 1, 2020, SLLS will offer a free virtual library legal clinic to eligible library patrons for civil cases. The legal clinic is focused on assisting low-income families and individuals with civil legal issues. Federal income guidelines are used to determine eligibility for legal representation.

Legal Issues Covered Include:

  • Evictions
  • Landlord-Tenant Disputes
  • Federal Tax Issues
  • Employment
  • Public Benefits (SNAP and Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security)
  • Foreclosures
  • Bankruptcies
  • Consumer Issues
  • Divorces and More

The clinic does not handle personal injury, criminal cases, or malpractice cases.

If you are interested in the legal clinic, fill out the form or call the Library at (225) 231-3750 if you need help completing the form.

DEI Online Certification Program


The East Baton Rouge Parish Library has partnered with the America, My Oyster Association to provide a curated list of online courses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Courses are completely free and 100% accessible online. Current and recently graduated high school and college students are encouraged to participate in this program. On completion, they will be provided with a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) certificate. Courses:

To access these courses, go to and click on ‘Digital Library’ then A-Z List, and choose from the list. You can also click here to go directly to The first time you access it, you will click ‘create profile’ and set up a password for your account. From then on you will use your library card number and password to access it. Once your account has been set up you can search for the courses below:

  • Confronting Bias: Thriving Across Our Differences – Find greater meaning, well-being, and productivity by learning how to interact with others across differences. Continue your Thrive journey and discover how to create inclusive environments where everyone can thrive. In this course, Arianna Huffington and Verna Myers discuss the impact of our cultural lens on our daily relations and how to counter bias in our words and actions. Course Length: 40 Minutes
  • Unconscious Bias – We’re all biased. Our experiences shape who we are, and our race, ethnicity, gender, height, weight, sexual orientation, place of birth, and other factors impact the lens with which we view the world. Course Length: 24 Minutes
  • Communicating with Empathy – When you seek to understand the perspective of another person, you are practicing empathy. When empathetic communication is encouraged at work, individuals feel more comfortable speaking openly, they feel like they matter, and they feel safe. Course Length: 37 Minutes
  • Body Language for Leaders – Research shows that when your verbal and nonverbal signals are out of alignment, people are forced to choose between what they hear and what they see. And subconsciously, they’ll believe your body language. Course Length: 39 Minutes
  • Leading Inclusive Teams – High-performing teams are comprised of employees who feel empowered, valued, and accepted. By taking steps to establish an inclusive team dynamic, you can positively impact both your team’s morale and your bottom line. In this course, learn how to create a shared understanding of why inclusion is important for your team, as well as revamp your own leadership and communication practices to ensure that your diverse team continues to thrive. Course Length: 1 Hour

Gale Presents: Udemy Courses: To access these courses, go to and click on ‘Digital Library’ then A-Z List, and choose Gale Presents: Udemy from the list. You can also click here to go directly to Gale Presents: Udemy. The first time you access it, you will login with either a Microsoft or Gmail account, and use that same account when you return to access the courses again. Once your account has been set up you can search for the courses below:

  • A Diversity Deep-Dive, Leadership Insights and Lessons! – The Research and Evidence, on Diversity and Inclusion; Insights, Lessons, and Strategies, for Leaders and Managers. Course Length: 4 Hours
  • Unconscious Bias: Fuel Diversity and Become a Better You – Defeat unconscious bias and build diversity and inclusion into your life even if it seems impossible right now! Course Length: 2 Hours
  • Psychology of Diversity and Unconscious Bias – Understand Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination and How to Reduce Their Influence at Work and Your Community. Course Length: 2.5 Hours
  • Ally Up: Using allyship to advance diversity & inclusion – How to connect across difference and build a better, more equitable workplace and world — together. Course Length: 2 Hours
  • Leadership: Essentials for Career Development – Learn to manage and lead with diversity. Course Length: 2.5 Hours