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Meet Jennifer Liepis of Love Local

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Liepis.

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I created Love Local because I want to change the world. When we talk about climate change, or just hear about it, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problems we face. Love Local is my way of giving people hope by offering a real world solution – an easy way to find sustainable alternatives to everyday products.

I was living in New York City when I discovered a bodega dedicated to sustainable products. It was then that I realized that big companies were creating sustainable products to appeal to people who wanted healthier and safer alternatives. At the core, these corporations weren’t changing their behavior or trying to be more sustainable, they simply saw this as a way to make more profit. I wanted to give people a resource to find sustainable products made by small businesses whose business practices truly reflected the values of the customers seeking these types of products.

Love Local is a curated directory of small businesses that place sustainability at the core of their missions. The people behind each of the brands on Love Local take a holistic approach to the products they make, from start to finish.

Part of shopping small is knowing who’s making your products or growing your food. The most enjoyable part of Love Local for me is telling the stories of the people behind the brands. They’re people who live and work in your community, go to soccer games and are invested in healthy, thriving communities.

There’s real power in being a voice for change by voting with your purchases. Love Local is meant to empower people to be the change they want to see in the world.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being an entrepreneur is not easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made for myself. I left a career in the music business and an amazing team behind to start my own venture. Transitioning from being part of a team to working on my own was the hardest part. I spent a lot of long, lonely days in front of my computer researching farmer’s markets and businesses to create a reliable directory. There was no one to brainstorm with or to get excited about an idea with. Ultimately, I kept my mission in mind and kept the faith that I was, and am, on the path I was meant to walk.

I knew that if I was seeking out this type of information, other people were too.

Our audience continues to grow and the business is growing and evolving which makes all the tough days worth it.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Love Local?
Love Local is a curated directory of small, sustainable businesses, farms and farmer’s markets across the U.S., making shopping small accessible to anyone anywhere. Each company is researched before it’s added to the directory to ensure it meets our criteria and values.

Some of the practices we look at are:
– Environmental stewardship
– Fair-trade labor practices
– Recycle, reuse, take-back programs. For example, allowing customers to return empty containers for recycling or refilling
– A respect of all life. We only list farmers who humanely raise animals and skincare companies that are cruelty-free
– GMO-free

A wonderful feature of Love Local is being able to search by your values. If someone is vegan, they can search vegan and see a list of companies that offer vegan products.

My background is in marketing, so I approach Love Local from the perspective of storytelling. I’m honored that small business owners allow me to share their stories – their values, motivations, struggles and journeys with the Love Local audience. We all have to work together to create less waste and care for the fragile ecosystem we call home. Love Local embodies the connection humanity shares with each other and inspires sustainable living choices by connecting those who are making sustainable products with those who are seeking them out.

Next year we’re expanding to include a sustainability consulting service for small businesses. We’ll work directly with small business owners who want to become more sustainable and need guidance on where to start and how to prioritize their goals.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I love the Headspace app for meditation. It keeps me grounded, clear-headed and helps me de-stress on crazy days.

My current favorite podcast is For the Wild. The host facilities conversations with people who have dedicated their lives to environmental studies, activism, preservation and more. It truly broadens my perspective and I’m awed by the knowledge and dedication of each guest.

My go-to work app is VSCO, a photo editing app that takes my photos to another level.

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Jennifer Liepis

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