Food Service & Agriculture, Marketing, PR & Advertising, and Sustainability

Q&A: Lauren Jaenicke

July 25, 2017
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Lauren Jaenicke
Lauren Jaenicke. Courtesy Essence Restaurant Group

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Lauren Jaenicke has worked for Essence Restaurant Group for 10 years and spent the last three years as its marketing and sustainability director.

Jaenicke said she seeks to "support a resilient and transparent local food system," which ultimately "enriches our community through effective management of triple-bottom-line principles."

Biggest career break?

James Berg, managing partner of Essence Restaurant Group, offered me a part-time sustainability director position following my graduation from Aquinas College with a B.S. in sustainable business. We were both a bit unsure of what exactly how the newly created position would function but knew it was a necessity for the future of the organization. What gets measured gets managed.

Proudest moment?

Completing the rigorous B Corp certification on behalf of Essence Restaurant Group, which led the company to become the first certified restaurant group to achieve B Corp status. Through many months of research and countless invaluable conversations with other West Michigan B Corps and Local First, our certification solidified our commitment, current and future, to enhancing our local food system, community and to provide a safe, inclusive work environment.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Find out what is truly important to you, not what you think should be important, and let go of everything else.

How did you make your first dollar?

Working in a restaurant, of course!

Most-treasured possession?

I have a box full of greeting cards from friends and family members that I can’t seem to part with. A few of the cards are from family members or friends who have passed, and if I ever need a word of encouragement, I read their words in admiration.

Dream job?

I seek the challenge and opportunity to inform people, young and old, of the current challenges of our business-as-usual mentality as it relates to the effects of climate change. How food is cultivated and the importance of supporting sustainable agriculture has been deeply engrained in me over the last 10 years, and I’d like to share this knowledge with restaurateurs, brewers and viticulturists.

If you were president for a day, you would…?

Require constituents to connect with community members of different ideologies, ethnicities, education and income levels. Albeit sometimes uncomfortable, we learn and grow the most when we take a moment to step out of our bubble.

Last book you read?

Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior,” by Leonard Mlodinow

Last search term you googled?

“Best books to read before bed”

Your worst habit?

Being a yes person. I constantly remind myself that it is perfectly okay to say “no” to certain requests, whether personal or professional. If I spread myself too thin, I am not being the best me.

To unwind, you like to…?

First and foremost, I enjoy laughing and relaxing with friends and family. If it is a rainy day, I am a sucker for documentaries — specifically historical docs.

Dream vacation?

My great-great grandparents were born and lived in Hesse and Hanover, Germany before immigrating to the United States at ages 14 and 15. I would love to tour the villages and admire the landscape and architecture they once saw.

Favorite food?

Anyone who knows me understands how difficult this question is to answer. My favorite food depends on my mood. However, I am always hungry for a really spicy curry.

Person you most admire?

I admire women who have faced adversity yet continue to live happy, successful and fulfilling lives. 

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