We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Gropper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lauren, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Well…I was definitely naive to what starting a business actually entails! (Which I think can be a good thing!) I was more compelled to solve a problem and address the issue of plastic waste – which at the time seemed to be an issue that would only continue to grow. I had spent several years in the sustainable design space, working with sustainable alternatives to existing building materials, so I applied the same kind of design thinking to the issue of single use plastic products to design plant-based, compostable alternatives.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
When we started Repurpose 10 years ago, we were trying to solve a problem – and we had to convince people that plastic was bad and that we should exist in the first place. We were the first brand to bring plant-based compostable tableware products to mass and mainstream retail. In the very early days, nobody was interested in putting us on their shelves – it was such an uphill battle. But we continued to innovate our products, and we brought excitement to a totally bland, boring and dead category of throw-away plastic. We were a new, young, authentic brand who walked the talk and now we’re the leading brand in the space. It’s amazing to see how the space has grown and how important sustainability is to people who bring our products into their homes. We have so many copycats now – which I’m both frustrated with but also very proud of because we’re changing the landscape of the category and providing alternatives to people who want to take a step into a more sustainable lifestyle.
It was DEFINITELY not easy. Challenging on every level. We’ve had to build this on a shoestring budget and we’re up against huge multinational companies with massive budgets. Everyday is a new challenge but it does keep us sharp : )
We’ve stayed persistent and never gave up – which has actually gotten us very far! Our persistence, our unwavering belief in our products and our incredible team of people is why we are where we are today.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
LA for visitors…I would definitely recommend some time at the beach – there are some amazing spots as you go further north – Matador Beach in Malibu is beautiful. And then also the canyons and hiking…Temescal, Will Rogers, Topanga, Griffith Park. We’ve had our office DTLA for 10 years and it’s an amazing area. Love the restaurants and the galleries – it’s definitely worth spending some time there.
For museums I love LACMA and BROAD.
For brunch and a neighborhood hang I would choose Silverlake or Los Feliz.
I love furniture and design stores – so check out West Hollywood area/La Cienega for some incredible stores.
People love a Dodger Game/Laker/Clipper game.
And of course a visit to Venice/Abbot Kinney/Rose – where you can find the best plant based food in the country!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to dedicate this to my Partner Jordan Silverman and the entire Silverman family who have been with Repurpose since the beginning – putting in the hard work and supporting Repurpose when it was still just a tiny piece of what it is today.