2015 LAURA SORENSON
OWNER, STONE FRUIT ESPRESSO + KITCHEN
Few things are as satisfying as watching something that you planted grow. It’s true of our children, it’s true of our gardens, and it’s true of the folks that we have met in the past handful of years who came to us with a dream or a spark of what they wanted to do or create through food, and who are now, at this very moment, doing it. We love how Laura’s vision for food-related fulfillment developed through her work in the beauty industry.
Want to help Laura’s Good Food Job dream come to fruition? Click here.
When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
I’ve spent the last 7 years of my life working dream jobs in the beauty business. I was a Regional Account Executive for great independent beauty lines like Drybar, Hourglass Cosmetics, Caudalie, and Sephora. I spent my days visiting various accounts in Sephora, Barneys, Bergdorf, Space NK, and Blue Mercury educating and sharing my passion for these innovative products. My job supplied me with endless beauty products, variety, autonomy, travel opportunities, and the chance to chat with and get to know thousands of interesting staff and clients. But being consistently surrounded by beauty products, marketing, and self-proclaimed beauty ‘junkies’ made me realize how I was personally contributing to an externally-focused society. When I was helping women find the right concealer for their skin type and preference, I was subtly reinforcing society’s demand for flawless skin in women. I tried to spin it as helping women develop confidence, but I knew that for every woman who was genuinely having fun with their look, there was a woman who felt like she NEEDED beauty products to be ‘pretty enough’.
It’s always been important to me that my life’s work make my community a better place. So when I felt like I’d (hopefully) saved enough money in the lucrative beauty business, I decided to put my money where my mouth was. Opening a whole foods, conscious cafe would allow me to educate my community in wholesome, healthy living, promoting wellness from the inside out rather than outside-in. A healthy diet is not a self-inflicted punishment. Recognizing your local agriculture on your lunch plate, and emphasizing the rich abundance of natural produce, can be a simple first step in living a more conscious lifestyle.
How did you get your current good food job?
I’ve visited quite a few inspiring food establishments on the west coast, but I honestly have not seen anything here in New York that married my love for a good coffeeshop with farm-to-table whole living. So to move forward with what I hope to be my life’s work, I needed to figure out how to create one.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
I will always be grateful for the business and marketing skills I learned working as an Account Executive. My salesmanship is top-notch, and by that I mean I can locate the products that will improve a client’s life, outline the benefits of a product in a clear and genuine way, and never stoop to manipulative sales. I have long been recognized as a superior educator, which I hope to put to good use teaching the benefits of whole foods, and instructing baking classes. I’ve managed substantial teams and practiced important managerial skills such as good communication, leadership, and a sense of strong teamwork from every member.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your good food job dream?
Fear is an incredibly powerful adversary when starting your own business. Out of no sense of ill-will, 75% of my friends and family have mentioned the scary statistics of opening a restaurant in New York City. Fear blinds you to the proactive ways you can make your business a success, occupying your mind when your mind should be working on ways to propel your project forward. What motivated me to very consciously set that fear to the side were 1) lots of research, 2) a year and a half of working/learning at a cafe similar to the one I had in mind, 3) recognizing that focusing on fear will never get you anywhere you want to be, and 4) turning 30 and realizing that (hopefully) my childless years would soon be coming to an end – now or never! In that spirit, take a moment to look at my Kickstarter campaign – perhaps you’d like some cocoa buckwheat granola in exchange for helping me make it through the home stretch?!
Name one positive thing that a former employer that you continue to appreciate?
I’m only as good as my team. One of my favorite bosses said this frequently, and I’ve kept it close to my heart. In a successful business, you just can’t do everything yourself, and having confidence and pride in your team will make your goals, and your team’s goals, much more achievable, as well as improving morale for everyone.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
Sustainability for the environment’s health AND your own personal health.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?