“You’ve got to have patience and be committed to the cause.”
“When I asked the question – where are my clothes coming from? The answer made me cringe, which is why I founded NOVAA. However, being born and raised in Kansas City, a BBQ hub, I never thought to ask – where is my meat coming from? That is, until Lori and Elise shared their story with me.” Explains Bridget Moran, Co-Founder of NOVAA.
Lori and Elise Lefcourt are sisters and co-founders of the vegan coffee creamer company, Unicreamer (think Unicorn because it’s that perfect and just a bit magical).
DREAMING IT UP
“Since college Lori has been calling me once or twice a day with all of these businesses ideas,” Elise says, “Some were ok, or kind of good, and some I’d just flat out tell her no.” Then one sunny family brunch on their parents’ back deck in St Louis, Lori started pouring vegan protein mix into her coffee, something she had been doing for months. As per usual she announced, “This is a genius for a business!” And, as Elise puts it, “For the first time, my whole family and I believed that this idea would actually work.”
MISSION FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS
The realities of today’s meat production are shocking. Animals are crammed into filthy cages in windowless factory farms by the thousands. Most won’t even feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they’re taken to slaughter.
On top of this, antibiotics are used to make animals grow faster and to keep them alive in these unsanitary conditions. Most factory-farmed animals have been genetically manipulated to grow larger or to produce more milk or eggs than they naturally would. This creates huge burdens on their bodies, too often causing premature death.
“Our overall mission is to give back to an animal charity of our or our customers’ choosing every quarter,” Elise explains. So far Unicreamer has sponsored events including Bark in the Park, part of The Anti-Cruelty Society, and the Pawsitive Change program which helps pair at-risk shelter dogs with incarcerated individuals who train them and send them to forever homes.
Both Elise and Lori have dogs whom they adore. Ollie, Elise’s dog, is a Cockapoo mix rescued two years ago. “He is the cutest little weirdest thing in the world,” says Elise. Gemma is Lori’s dog. “She’s like a human. She would be offended if you called her a dog. As long as I’m around, she’s happy. Couldn't have asked for a more loyal girl.”
LESSONS FROM WALL STREET & BEYOND
“Hard work and hustle can set you apart more than intelligence. I was able to overcome the harsh reality of working in a male dominated field, and it made me 20 times stronger as a person. If I can put in 6 years of that -- I can do anything!” Lori explains as she reflects on her years working on Wall Street.
“Fail Forward” is the sisters’ motto. Lori says, “As someone who has had a zillion ideas throughout my whole life, I truly believe one of the best ways to grow a business is to just START. Your biggest lessons won't be through planning, they will be through failing.”
Elise agrees, “Everything takes way longer than you’d expect. You’ve got to have patience and be committed to the cause.”
HACKS FOR THE UNWAVERING OMNIVORE
“Do your research. If you can't give up meat but love animals, spend a couple extra minutes looking up local farms (not factory farms) where the animals live happy lives and can graze. The prices may be a little higher but at least you're not contributing to a ‘hell on earth’ type of industry. For eggs, I recommend buying "Vital Farms" eggs -- the standards for their farms are incredibly high,” Lori explains.
Then Elise said these magical words, “There’s this burger called the ‘Impossible Burger,’ it’s plant-based but tastes exactly like an actual burger - some of my very serious vegan/vegetarian friends won’t eat it because they say it tastes too much like meat! They sell them at various restaurants and you can look up your zip code on Impossiblefoods.com.”
ELISE & LORI'S 3 FAVORITE THINGS
An endless supply of coffee (obviously).
YOU ARE A BADASS
The book, "You Are A Bad Ass" by Jen Sicero, because, “She's one of the most entertaining self-development authors; I never put the book down,” endorses Lori.
“A trip to a local animal sanctuary where you can interact with the farm animals. Honestly, pigs are the most emotional/entertaining animals out there. My ex boyfriend who loves bacon and any meat even debated on giving up meat because he fell in love with the pigs,” Lori laughs.
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