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Meet Laura Yochum of Prostainable in Woodland Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Yochum.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Laura. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After growing up in a tiny Ohio farm-town (population 351) I went off to college in Cincinnati. I earned a degree in Fashion Design; Product Development followed by a license in cosmetology from the Aveda Institute. In 2012, I left Southern Ohio to chase my lifestyle dreams in sunny California.

I have spent my 20’s and early 30’s working for two of the largest beauty and consumer-goods corporations in the world, primarily educating hairstylists on how to use products. The plastic crisis connected with me a few years ago when I started spending vacations backpacking in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. The rule in the backcountry is “leave no trace”, this concept became ingrained in my daily life. From there, I could not stop reading about the billions of pounds of plastic and toxins that most industries (food, cleaning, personal care, pet, etc.) are responsible for creating and I knew that I wanted to become part of the solution.

I founded Prostainable as a way to help others live a low impact lifestyle, I believe that people do want to reduce their impact on the earth but it’s often seen as expensive and inconvenient. Most of us know that our current buying habits and disposable way of life has created a really big problem in our air, oceans, landfills, and for marginalized communities. We are depleting the earth of natural resources every single year while increasing harmful living conditions in vulnerable neighborhoods.

It is going to take many of us thinking holistically before we make purchases, but we can change how goods are manufactured to us and encourage a circular economy. We can make sustainability accessible and I am going to help make that happen.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’ve remained working full-time in order to fund prostainable. While getting the business off of the ground, I’ve been working 80+ hours a week for a year and a half which comes with many challenges and sacrifices. I was making great momentum until March 2020!

The pandemic changed my business plans but luckily created a demand for soap at a time when plastic pollution was making headlines. Now, we are all really seeing the copious amount of single-use packaging and plastic wrapped goods because of this virus.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Prostainable – what should we know?
We have a goal of diverting 1 million bottles from the waste stream (recycling and landfills), because the sanitation infrastructure cannot handle the amount of waste we are sending them. This means that 1 million times, Prostainable is planning to refill a bottle or help others switch to bar soap versus a plastic bottle of soap. We hit 1,000 bottles recently! I am proud that the momentum is picking up again after being shut down for three months.

Personally, as a hairstylist and a product developer, I am really focused on products, ingredients, and performance. There are mainstream products in refill shops but there are also specialty products that I love sourcing locally or creating them myself.

I learned to make cold-pressed soaps during quarantine! I create bar soaps, candles, and refillable fragrances with herbs and flowers that I grow in my permaculture garden. When I’m out, I’m out! Customers have to wait until next season because that is how it should be.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My significant other/life-partner of seven years has listened to my ideas, concerns, and fears! He has given me space to physically and mentally work this much. We both knew I would be fully committed the first years of launching a business and he has been my rock.

My brother, he physically helps me the most. He was there my very first day at the Calabasas Farmer’s Market and he was there helping me put the store together the night before my grand opening. He’s worked for free, for product, and for pay and has never complained.

My neighbors, from photography to helping me making products to building my store shelves to being loyal customers… they are really special to me.

A few mentors and my parents – they all allow me to share personal and professional growing pains and wins!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kathy Schuh & Roni Smiles

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