[quote style=”boxed”]I think the bigger challenge is staying focused on the right ideas, and putting the other ideas aside in order to make the right ones happen. Focus is key.[/quote]
Lauren Gropper is a green entrepeneur with a background in green architecture and urban design, as well as sustainability consulting for film and television. Lauren is currently the CEO for Repurpose, Inc., a consumer packaged goods company that she founded in 2010. Lauren is also the co-founder of Minimal Productions LLC, and environmental consulting firm, as well a founding partner in SHFT.com, and environmental media platform created by Adrian Grenier. A LEED® Accredited Professional since 2002, Lauren has consulted on over 75 LEED® Registered projects in North America as well as various residential and commercial buildings, corporations, and homes in Los Angeles, Toronto and New York City. Lauren has worked on many LEED certification projects as a consultant to the global architecture firm Gensler, including projects for the Microsoft Corporation, Fairmont Hotels, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Korean Airlines, and Beckman Coulter.
Lauren has a Master of Science in Environmental Planning and Design from New York’s Pratt Institute School of Architecture. In the fall of 2005, Lauren joined the Pratt Institute faculty as an Adjunct Professor, teaching green building principles and LEED® processes to graduate architecture and urban planning students. Lauren is also a frequent guest lecturer, teaching sustainable community design studios at Pratt Institute as well as Continuing Education classes in green home renovations and green building basics for homeowners at the City University of New York (CUNY).
Ms. Gropper’s film and television experience began in her role as on camera host and consultant to HGTV’s Green Force. Lauren was then hired as a green consultant to the set of HBO’s Entourage and went on to become a consulting producer for Discovery’s Alter Eco with Adrian Grenier. Lauren has more recently been involved in advertising campaigns – she was selected to be a part of Absolut Vodka’s Visionary campaign, and is a representative for Hyundai’s LiveSmart, consulting both on and off the set for their recent carbon neutral campaign – the first ever carbon neutral commercial production.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working with an amazing team of people to become the brand leader in green alternatives to disposable plastic and Styrofoam. Our company is called Repurpose Compostables and we make entirely plant based products for home use.
Where did the idea for Repurpose Compostables come from?
It’s morphed several times to become what it is today! I had been working for many years as a green building consultant and a sustainability consultant on film and tv sets. Whether it was a hotel, airport, or film set – there was a desire to go green, but there were very few good quality alternatives to plastic and Styrofoam. I knew there was an opportunity there. After a ton of research, I found the right partners and we began our efforts in manufacturing great quality green products at an affordable price point.
What does your typical day look like?
Lots of emails, phone calls, conference calls, team meetings. We are a small team, so I cover everything from product design, pricing strategy, finance, sales…whatever it takes to get the job done and move the needle forward.
How do you bring ideas to life?
For me, bringing ideas to life is what motivates me to be an entrepreneur. I absolutely love the process. With our company, it’s always a team effort. I think the bigger challenge is staying focused on the right ideas, and putting the other ideas aside in order to make the right ones happen. Focus is key.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m really excited by the growth in all of the local, handmade, artisanal food products, fashion, travel experiences, art, film, etc. Access to distribution through the internet has made all of this possible.
What was the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
I spent about 3 weeks as a waitress in a deli that served corned beef sandwiches all day. I learned how to make a great corned beef sandwich : )
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
The list is too long…but we are definitely on the right path now! There are certain individuals that are involved today whom I wish were involved from the very beginning.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I’m constantly evangelizing about our products – to anyone and everyone that will listen! I’m not over the top at all, but I think it’s extremely important to let everyone know what you’re up to. People always seem to want to help in some way – to connect me to others or provide insight from their perspective.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve made the mistake of hiring the wrong people. It was a costly mistake, and I’ve become much more discerning when it comes to bringing people into the company.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
The one thing I would change is honestly the proliferation of plastics in our environment. Our recycling rates are abysmal, and our overuse of disposables is out of control. That is what motivates me every day. Eliminating disposables is not going to work because people won’t completely stop. That is why we make the greenest possible disposables and make them available to the widest audience possible. But our motto is Reuse First, Repurpose Second. Meaning, it has to be a combination of bring your own coffee mug and using a disposable one. That mindset is a change I would like to be able to make.
Tell us a secret.
I’m afraid of needles and blood tests!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Pinterest – just love the ability to have an online pin-up board.
Instagram – a great way to communicate with people – I check this daily.
Dropbox – we’ve been using it for cloud storage for about a year and I couldn’t to business without it!
Spotify – best streaming music site.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Cradle to Cradle – Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.
Hugely inspiring and filled with incredible information that everyone should know. It changed the way I understood design.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@SHFT – Incredibly curated environmental media platform by my friends Peter Glatzer and Adrian Grenier.
@Fastcompany – I always find great information, links and resources.
@Inhabitat – Amazing go-to for environmental design.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My sister always makes me laugh out loud…had to be a couple of days ago when we last spoke.
Who is your hero?
My parents are my heros, as well Oprah Winfrey and Shlomo Silverman.
What gets you out of bed each morning?
A good cup of coffee and knowing my team investors are behind me.
Lauren Gropper on Twitter: @repurpose
Lauren Gropper on Instagram: @repurpose
Lauren Gropper on Facebook: facebook.com/repurpose
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.