We had the good fortune of connecting with Lori Vaughn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lori, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s your definition for success?
This question has meant a lot to me the past few years as I’ve tried to grow my passion into a business. At one point in the process, my husband asked me, “So, is this a hobby or a business?” That was a scary question to answer! My hobby and passion for baking has been with me since I was little, and part of the joy I’ve found within baking is sharing it with others. Sharing it for fun with my family and close friends means a lot, but when I realized I could actually share this with such a wider audience – that idea became exciting! It also became terrifying because that’s when you begin the process of labeling yourself as “a business”. What if people don’t like it? What if I don’t make any money? When will I know if I need to call it quits? A hobby is safe – it’s a no pressure, no-fail environment. A business requires risks, decision making, and expectations the world calls “success”. Well, I didn’t want to fail, and I also didn’t want to give up my hobby. But I also knew that I wanted more. And to feel “successful” I had to make sure I knew exactly what that looked like so I could have the courage to not only take risks, but know when I could say “no” and still feel good about it. With a business like mine that is so closely intertwined with my family life, my decisions effect a bigger circle than just me and my excel sheet numbers. As a full time mom and wife to a supportive crew, my number one indicator of success is making sure our home is a happy, safe, well balanced place to be. I had to learn that publishing a book or catering a large event wasn’t worth it if that first priority was suffering. That priority helps me make decisions and find success on the business side. I’m successful when I’ve done the best I possibly can. I’m successful when I learn something. I am successful when I finish – that new recipe, a custom order, writing a book – whatever it is. What matters most to me is completing it with self satisfaction and pride – not how many copies are sold or online readers I have. When I can keep my personal levels of success in check and stay genuine to my goals and my brand, the rest is enjoyable and exciting. I’ve sold more book copies than I thought, built more positive relationships that I expected, and became profitable sooner than I planned I believe because of my focus on the real goals and purpose behind the creation of Lo’s Kitchen from day one – to bring joy and high quality tasting goods into people’s lives and homes, including my own.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Lo’s Kitchen brings in a variety of work, which I love! I am a recipe developer, food photographer, kitchen instructor, home baker, and recently – a published cookbook author! Looking back, it’s fun to see how all my passions have now merged into one entity. It starter from the simple love as baking as a kid. Then as a teenager I began to figure out the entrepreneurial world as I began to sell my goods, figure out how to perfect those recipes, and learn what makes people buy. My basic teen business model was basically a weekly subscription service to bread (before subscription services were cool!). While I loved baking, it wasn’t everything at the time. I had other interest as well that led me to taking educational teaching courses in college, design classes, and eventually landed on a major in Advertising. That journey has given me opportunities to get hands on experience to figure out how to obtain clients, teach effectively in a classroom, take eye capturing photos, and use science to perfect recipes. Those independent interests have been such a useful and fun combination in my kitchen. Because they are all genuine personal interests, it’s been interesting to figure out how to transition that into a profitable business. I began to spend more hours on it than a typical hobby, and I knew if I was going to justify putting full time hours into this, I had to either scale back and keep it a hobby or move forward and make it a profitable business to honor the precious time spent on it. So, I decided to jump in and commit. I have days where it can be easy to get consumed on the business end – making sure it’s content others will want to see, figuring out what will make it more profitable, etc. When those aspects become stressful, I have to check in with myself. Recently I was going through this exercise as I was trying to perfect my sourdough bagel recipe I hoped to include in my upcoming cookbook. It took me about 10 long time consuming attempts until I got the recipe where I wanted. That’s a lot of ingredients and a lot of time and towards the end I was about to throw my bagel bricks out the window. When I became frustrated, I had to take a break and ask myself, “Why am I making this bagel recipe? Who is expecting this of me. Is it for you or for them?” I had to remember that this is for me. I want to become a better baker. I want to learn what’s happening in these ingredients that’s making this not work. I want to create something delicious, but it doesn’t have to be today.” Through a few more test runs I finally got the recipe to where I wanted it and was able to include it in my book just in the nick of time. That experience has become a defining moment for me to remember why I do this – I do it for the love of creating and sharing. I do it because I feel satisfaction when I am able to figure out something new and solve a problem. This is about me, and what I expect of myself, not about what I think my social media audience expects of me. That’s my brand and that’s the love, passion, and personal expectation I hope to carry though the growth of Lo’s Kitchen.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We love Denver! A week in the city with me would naturally be a foodie tour – making the rounds of all the best bakeries, ice cream shops, and unique restaurants. Some of my favorites include Chocolaterie Stram, Little Man Ice Cream, and Peppercorn – one of the most amazing kitchen stores packed with interesting finds from floor to ceiling. With countless biking trails in and outside of the city, we’d have to include a few of those as well to get the true Colorado experience!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband with all the patience in the world, my close friends who gave me the confidence to jump in, & other amazing organizations and companies, like my kitchen family Orson Gygi, who have trusted me enough to bring me in to their kitchens and lives!