Laura Lynn Klein of Organic Authority
Lee Schneider: It’s the Cult/Tech Podcast. I’m Lee Schneider. Joining me today is Laura Lynn Klein, an environmental superstar who is co-founder of Organic Authority, a new -media company that publishes organicauthority.com and ecoSalon.com. Hey Laura, welcome to the podcast.
Laura Lynn Klein: Hey Lee, thanks so much for having me here.
Lee: Great. So you launched organic authority in 2006 and since it’s become a leading authority — we will use that term — a leading authority on organic life, food, and goods. There are a lot of others who have tried to succeed in that space and lots of competitors so why have you guys made it.
Laura: Persistence. I think it just really comes down to persistence. You’re right, there have been a lot of companies that have come and gone in this space particularly over the past 10 years and the space is very different today than it was 10 years ago. And I think persistence and kind of blood, sweat and tears.
Lee: Why are you the person to do this. What’s your background?
Laura: I am just an everyday person like anyone else. I really have no background in it other than I’m really self-taught. Before I did this I worked in entertainment as an assistant but I was really passionate about food and I went to culinary school nights and weekends, while working. And while everyone else at work was reading scripts on the weekends I was reading cookbooks and cooking magazines.
That was my first clue when I thought, well you know, I’m probably in the wrong business. I just fell in love with food and in culinary school they taught us a lot about how America’s food is grown, and they taught us the difference between how a conventional apple or tomato is grown and how an organic tomato is grown, and how animals are raised. You know, how animals are raised on big feedlots and how they’re raised also kind of consciously, really closer to the way Mother Nature intended, meaning out on the land, and there’s a big difference. Conventional farming, the uses of pesticides and those types of things, has really changed the way America grows and processes foods.
I saw way back when in culinary school just how America’s burgeoning health crisis was directly related to the everyday foods Americans where were eating but they really didn’t know the truth, they didn’t know the truth about how there was ground how it’s processed what the real ingredients are in it. And so I got angry and needed to figure something else out. And I wanted to write about it, studied journalism, and so I launched organic authority.
Lee: Let’s talk about — you mentioned the truth, and also the voice. There’s very, it’s very interesting to me that a lot of well-meaning publications, you know, journalists, they may want to write about this, but they don’t find a compelling, real, genuine voice that you guys have found. Was that by accident or design or luck, or how did that happen?
Laura: Yeah kind of accident and also by design as well. We are constantly working to really refine our voice. I think one thing that always has really stayed consistent through through the years though is that it’s really been part of my desire and passion to get to the truth of how things are made, how things are grown, how things – and when I say things I’m referring to food – how food is grown, how it’s processed and get to the truth and transparency.
Because over the years, you know, marketing has done a really great job in terms of really determining what customers buy and believe, and with the Internet it’s really changed things. I mean consumer activism has really taken hold, and we’ve been, we’ve been able to help kind of pull the curtain back and say look, this is really what’s going on with your food, and readers appreciate that. And they they’re very instinctual. If a brand or a writer or a publication isn’t really telling the truth, a consumer, a reader can sniff it out faster than than you think.
Lee: That’s a very interesting point. You occupy this niche. You’re not Mother Jones, and you’re not Huffington Post Green and you’re not quite Civil Eats, but you have an identity it’s very real, and I think readers and viewers but readers do appreciate authenticity. You can’t fake that as the expression goes. It has to be real.
Lee: How do you think that your newest readers are discovering you? What are they value most about organic authority?
Laura: Well, our newest readers are discovering us through different ways across the Web, whether it’s through search, SEO. Whether it’s through social, whether it’s through referral traffic, if somebody else writes about us, like maybe perhaps The New York Times or The Huffington Post.
I think what they really value is going back to transparency. And going back to the value of food, and how important it is in our life. Because America has been raised with this thought process of cheaper, quicker, better, faster, buy in bulk. “Who kind of cares about what’s inside it?” And so there was this whole consciousness that was lost in terms of the value of how a piece of produce was grown, or the value of how a cow or a chicken or an animal was raised. And we write about those values, about this is why it’s so important to be eating seasonally because, you’re going to get food that is at the peak of its nutrition. It’s better if you buy local versus. You know buying something that was shipped in, from Chile. That’s not necessarily wrong. I’m not saying it’s wrong. But. It’s. Important to support those economies too. But. Here is how you can support your local economy. Here’s how you can support your health your family’s health, you make these small changes in your life.
It always starts with food. People only change really when they’re in pain whether it’s their overweight or unhappy, that type of thing. And so people start cleaning up their food, and then it actually starts spilling over into their other consumer products, like their personal care products for women it’s their makeup. It’s their beauty products. And so we also write about what’s in those products too. And we also give simple, affordable everyday tips in terms of how to clean up those products and how to make different choices. And so I think readers, our new readers, sense that and they appreciate it and that’s what brings them back.
Lee: You know super practical stuff stuff that you can use right now.
Lee: We talked about Eco Salon there a little bit, you want to specifically talk about it and how its mission differs a bit from Organic Authority?
Laura: Sure. Yeah. Eco Salon as a little bit broader than Organic Authority. it’s about conscious culture, fashion and natural beauty for women. So Organic Authority really focuses on like food and wellness, and kind of everything that expands from that. Eco Salon is a little bit more culture driven, and it’s really about the, you know, the empowered woman of today, the smart woman, the woman who is educated, who cares about the food that she buys. She she cares about, you know, the lifestyle or the products that she brings into her home. She cares about creating change in this world, she cares about where her her dollar is spent. She’s empowered, she’s beautiful, she’s gorgeous, she’s fun, she’s not frumpy.
She’s a real change maker in today’s world, which is much different than say, you know ,like 10 years ago or something like that.
Lee: People are really looking holistically at everything they eat, buy and use. And you’re really addressing that.
Laura: Yes. Yes absolutely. Really becoming the conscious consumer. It’s really almost like the anti-American consumer because, you know, it’s like America has just become this— again we kind of touched on earlier — “Oh. Bigger, better, faster! Let’s get a bigger this!. More of that and more of this! And then you realize it’s like oh my god I have all this stuff. Where did all this stuff come from?
And I feel like if we were more thoughtful with our consumerism and with our dollars, it could really help change all that too. Just because, I mean, if you look at the lifecycle products and the amount of waste that we’re creating just on disposable products it’s kind of insane.
Lee: If someone wanted to write for either of your publications, what would your suggestions be?
Laura: Reach out to us! You know, we’re always looking for quality voices and writers. You know, you’ve got to have a strong voice. You’ve got to have a strong point of view, educated on our niche. We’re kind of like that educated consumer, we can sniff it out pretty quickly if somebody is just like a fad or if someone is the real deal. But we’re always looking for strong voices.
Lee: OK, that’s good advice for those who are listening and might want to write. To cycle back to the beginning. Persistence consistency of voice, and the practical usefulness of adapting your lifestyle to this world.
Lee: You’re really addressing that and you do that you’re kind of hitting on all cylinders on that, or if we can take the proper analogy using all the solar panels on that –
Laura: I like that.
Lee: Yeah right, and it’s you know I think if I had to look at this from the 10,000 foot perspective I’d have to talk about that combination of practicality persistence and really, entree into the culture. For someone who’s trying to get into this this is a way to do that.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. I think those are really great points. Really cool.
Lee: Laura, thanks so much for joining me today on the podcast.
Laura: Thank you, Lee. It was a lot of fun.
Lee: I’m Lee Schneider, communications director at Red Cup, and this has been the Cult/Tech Podcast.