Lauren Simonelli of ‘ThreeMain’: “Your mission is your north star”

Your mission is your north star. Let it guide you in every decision you make. I find myself referring to this on a daily basis. For everything we do, I ask myself, “is this in line with our mission to provide simple, sustainable, and effective household products that keep plastics out of our oceans?” and if […]

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Your mission is your north star. Let it guide you in every decision you make.

I find myself referring to this on a daily basis. For everything we do, I ask myself, “is this in line with our mission to provide simple, sustainable, and effective household products that keep plastics out of our oceans?” and if the answer is no, I know it’s not right!

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Simonelli, Co-Founder of ThreeMainMed.

Lauren Simonelli is a Co-Founder of ThreeMain, a Boston-based subscription cleaning products company aiming to reduce household plastic consumption and transform the way we clean our homes. At ThreeMain, Lauren is focused on product innovation, supply chain management, and customer satisfaction. Prior to ThreeMain, Lauren was a founding member leading product development of an Ad-Tech startup, later acquired by a global giant in the HR-Tech space. In her personal life, Lauren enjoys all facets of exercise, healthy living, and traveling the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

For as long as I can remember, health, wellness, and doing my part for the planet have been priorities of mine. I’ve always been passionate about exercise, been conscious of the ingredients in the food I consume, and have carried my reusables (cups, water bottles, bags, straws, etc.) with me everywhere. A few years ago, as I started to learn more about the implications of using self-care and makeup products with toxins, I also committed to overhauling my makeup bag and only using clean products. I found myself taking all the steps to living healthier and making smarter choices for our world, yet I would still clean my house with toxic products in plastic bottles, and that didn’t sit well with me. I tried to give my cleaning cabinet the overhaul I gave my makeup bag, but the options available didn’t meet my expectations. Some alternatives were safe, but not effective, while others were marketed as “green”, but still had chemical fragrances. Not to mention, they were all packaged in thick plastic bottles. I explored the DIY route, but it required more effort than I wanted to give. So I left my career in Advertising Tech to pursue creating ThreeMain — an alternative to the status quo of cleaning, that didn’t require a compromise at our or the planet’s expense, to clean confidently.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

For far too long, consumers have had to sacrifice their health or that of the planet, to have a clean home, but at ThreeMain, we’re transforming the way people clean. With our soaps and cleaners, there is no longer a need to use toxic chemicals in plastic bottles. Our products are all formulated with 100% non-toxic ingredients that are safe, but still pack an incredibly powerful clean, and are packaged in refillable, reusable aluminum bottles to help consumers reduce their plastic consumption.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Pivoting from a career in Ad Tech to navigating a supply chain was certainly a challenge. I went from spending my days with software engineers and marketers, to chemists and manufacturers. I always thought that the tech world used the most acronyms, but wow, did I learn otherwise! In some of my first meetings with potential partners, I would take down notes with an emphasis on the acronyms and phrases mentioned that I didn’t know. There were SO many of them, but I went along and nodded as if I understood, and would then go back to my office googling the list of terms I wrote down. I must have done this 10x before I really felt like I had a good grasp on the industry lingo. I wasted way too much time researching acronyms and studying my findings ahead of my next meetings, when I should have just asked in the moment — “hey, I’m learning — what does that mean?”

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I am so grateful for the community of female founders in and around our home city of Boston. I’ve had the pleasure of attending events and sitting on panels with women from all different industries and business stages, and each time I engage with them, I walk away feeling more and more inspired. Within this network I’ve been fortunate enough to meet women who share similar struggles, celebrate similar wins, and have experiences and advice I can learn from. I really believe that we can all learn from each other, and this group of women continues to prove that to be true.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

In the cleaning products industry, products having withstood the test of time is actually the problem. For so many years, it has been the norm to clean with chemicals and toss away empty plastic bottles. A norm that has directly correlated to health issues and plastic pollution. As consumers we’ve been conditioned to believe that only bleach can kill bacteria, and that only suds can make a dish clean, but the reality is that is simply not the case. The cleaning products industry needs disruptive innovation and education, for the sake of our health and our planet, and that is what we’re doing at ThreeMain.

Disruptions like this are positive any time new products or services are improved to benefit us all, but when they destroy the old, without inclusive improvements, they tend to do more harm than good.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Your mission is your north star. Let it guide you in every decision you make.

I find myself referring to this on a daily basis. For everything we do, I ask myself, “is this in line with our mission to provide simple, sustainable, and effective household products that keep plastics out of our oceans?” and if the answer is no, I know it’s not right!

Progress over Productivity.

When you start a business, there is always more work to be done, but there is a major difference between being productive for a full day, and making progress within a day. I try to remind myself of this every day, so I continue to make progress.

Don’t overthink. Take risks and do what feels right.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet it’s one of the things I find to be the most challenging. I am someone who typically relies on analytics, and makes calculated decisions, but sometimes you either don’t have the time, or the data simply isn’t there. In those cases I remind myself not to overthink, and to just do what feels right.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

ThreeMain is going to continue introducing innovative products to clean your home. We currently offer Hand and Dish Soaps, Bathroom and Surface Cleaners, and other home cleaning accessories like sponges and Dryer Balls, and we are working on a few new products that we’re really excited about!

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

My favorite podcast is the How I Built This series. Each episode is a start-up founder sharing their story of building their successful business from the ground up. Listening to these is a constant reminder that every founder faces challenges, and that building a business is not an easy climb for anyone. Though every story is unique, they all have some things in common. They are all tackling challenges head on, making pivotal changes, and taking risks. For me it’s a reminder that we’re not alone in the challenges we face, and that it’s how we approach and overcome them that will define our success.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I always remind myself that through every struggle comes strength. Whether personal or professional, every hardship we face in life comes with a lesson, and the more lessons we have under our belts, the stronger we become.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am a believer that the greatest impact can come from the smallest changes. The world doesn’t need a handful of people living zero-waste lifestyles (though I applaud those that are) perfectly, while the rest carry on as usual. The world needs everyone making an imperfect effort. If we all made better choices around the products we buy, and the way we care for and discard them, the overall impact on our planet would go a long way.

How can our readers follow you online?

Follow along at @threemain

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