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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

May 13, 2020

Anyone who has ever started a business knows that entrepreneurship is hard. Starting a business takes courage. Starting a business takes conviction, perseverance, grit and tenacity. It is not for the faint of heart and often the occasion arises where you may need to change something to keep your business going. In our current time right now, pivoting is what a lot of businesses are finding themselves in a position to do. My guest today is an entrepreneur who has a lot of experience with exactly that. Lauren Peterson is the founder and CEO of Travel Patterns, a travel-inspired social impact brand that envisions a world where every woman understands her unique value, is connected to her own story, and is empowered to boldly pursue her daring life adventure while enabling others to do the same. I had so much fun having Lauren on the show and she’s actually the first guest I’ve interviewed from home during Covid-19. Lauren has so many wise insights regarding how businesses can adapt and pivot during this time. Join me for this encouraging conversation with Lauren!

3:35 – The Lauren Peterson 101

  • Lauren is the founder of Travel Patterns, an ethically made travel and home accessory brand that partners with weaving cooperatives in different countries to provide products through a sustainable marketplace.
  • Lauren studied interior design and practiced the profession for a decade before jumping full time into working on Travel Patterns. She even had a unique job working with the Army Corps of Engineers as an interior designer!
  • Her entrepreneurial journey started in college when she knew she wanted to start her own company. After graduating, she knew God was calling her to a career in interior design, but He was not calling her to a TYPICAL career in interior design.
  • When she graduated in 2008 as the economy crashed, Lauren realized very quickly that her career options would be limited. She was living in Chicago at the time and decided she would need to move home to continue to pursue career opportunities, though there were none.
  • She never would have moved home or taken a government job working with the Army Corps of Engineers if not for the economic circumstances at the time. She felt God calling her to something she never expected for herself.
  • Lauren worked with the Army Corps of Engineers for 10 years in Alabama and left her job there a year and a half ago. Halfway through her work with the Army she was able to further foster her love of global textiles with global travel for her job.
  • All of her projects were outside of the US, and it fostered an understanding for how business could positively impact other communities. When she traveled, she learned more about communities with their own unique textiles and crafts. She would bring handmade products home that everyone wanted to learn more about.
  • Over time, the lightbulb went off that she could build a business that supported the artisan groups she was able to interact with and provide a sustainable livelihood through business partnership. In 2014, Lauren started her company and rebranded it to become Travel Patterns in 2016.

16:23 – Pivoting in 2020

  • So many different business entities whether small businesses, large corporations, fair-trade businesses, restaurants, and ethical businesses are having to pivot and problem solve during this global pandemic.
  • Lauren is no stranger to pivoting. She built her business while working full time. At the time she was just purchasing products from different artisan groups overseas and reselling the products. It was a sustainable relationship, but she quickly realized it wasn’t scalable. The inventory was always hit or miss.
  • Lauren knew that in order to have true, sustainable partnership for her cooperatives, they needed to be designing their own products. She rebranded the company for a fresh start and refocused on one cooperative in Guatemala, designing their first original collection. Soon they launched with a small product line of travel accessories like pouches, zip bags, and laundry bags.
  • From 2017-2018, Lauren and her husband started planning for her to leave her full-time job to focus solely on Travel Patterns. During that time, they looked at adding future product lines and adding new partnerships. She is now in the middle of adding a home goods line (in the middle of a global crisis).
  • Lauren has learned a lot from her cooperatives about moving forward in a time of crisis. Many of their communities are accustomed to adversity on a basis level and are equipped to work through overcoming these kinds of situations.
  • Most of the raw materials for the products made for the cooperatives are made in people’s homes and later taken to a workshop to be made into a finished product. The difficulty during a pandemic is not getting the parts and pieces for handmade goods, but finishing the product to send it.
  • Now Travel Patterns is brainstorming what can be handstitched together rather than relying on the larger equipment in the workshops. They are focusing more on simpler products and brainstorming a whole new line of products that are easier to make.
  • Lauren has turned to her partners for ideas on how to continue working safely, understanding how their needs have changed, and helping the already vulnerable communities they live in.

30:04 – Pause for Clarity 

  • Lauren felt behind in responding to the crisis, but truly what was needed was time to reach out to her partners and understand their creative options. It took a few weeks to gauge the impact on a broad scale.
  • We are talking about pivoting, but especially right at the beginning of the crisis, Travel Patterns had to stop in their tracks altogether. They had inventory coming in for a launch that isn’t happening now, so working and communicating closely with their partners was the most important thing as the world changed rapidly.
  • Taking the time to calibrate in the beginning has set the company and its partners up with strong plans for the new normal of the planet. The new plan may not include a new collection launch, and instead requires taking things day by day and asking what is most important for the partners.
  • God’s timing is not our own, and this time of waiting can be a very rich growing experience where we can learn even more to trust God when our plans seemingly go off the rails.

35:03 - Travel Patterns

  • For any sale on Guatemalan collections, 50% of the profits will be donated to get vital food and supplies into the Guatemalan communities in remote areas where people are not able to take public transport into town to buy the food and supplies they need. 
  • The Travel Patterns Philippines Collection is available on pre-order, and products will ship mid-May to end of May with discounted pricing. The collection includes two pillows, clutches, and weekender bags. Those funds will of course go back into the Philippines partnership.

38:10 - Getting to Know Our Guest

  • Find out what Lauren is learning about herself during Covid-19, what part of a kid’s movie scarred her, what she would do differently if no one was watching her, and of course, what it means to Lauren to run her business with purpose.

Memorable Quotes

7:00 – “Even though I question and kick and scream a lot in my selfish ways about my own plans for my life, I am able to recognize the path He’s put before me and I’m thankful for that, even though I love to control other situations.”

“Many of the more impoverished communities and the cooperatives that a lot of ethically made companies are partnered with are so used to adversity on a basic level of having to really work through a crisis. Many of these cooperatives live this every single day. They’ve been built on crisis and trying to overcome these situations, so for me, I’m actually looking more to my cooperatives to say, ‘What are good ways to move forward?’ “