A major life and career change is a risk most people never take, but former corporate planner Leanne Lauricella left behind a fast-paced city career, to follow her dream of running a goat sanctuary in New Jersey. Exhausted of life in the fast lane, Leanne grew easily tired of the high-stress environment and unshakeable feeling of meaningless work, and gave it all up to build a small rescue farm, despite having no real farming experience.
“I was feeling so unfulfilled with my career and knew I needed to make a change so I took a leap of faith and quit my job to explore other ideas," says Lauricella. “I started volunteering at a farm animal sanctuary and was instantly hooked. It wasn't long before I took in my first two rescue baby goats with special needs."
Motivated by a strong love for helping animals in need, the sanctuary soon evolved naturally and quickly, as Lauricella now has 40 goats, two pigs, chickens, a mini horse, and a mini donkey to care for. But what's equally impressive is the sanctuary's strong social media presence, as the Goats Of Anarchy Instagram account has become an overnight viral sensation. Lauricella states the account (which even has won a Webby award) acquired over 30K followers in just one day if its creation.
“I was feeling so unfulfilled with my career and knew I needed to make a change so I took a leap of faith and quit my job to explore other ideas" - Lauricella
“On my very first day of unemployment, as I began my search for the next phase of my life, Instagram featured one of my photos on their homepage, and I acquired over 30K followers in one day," says Lauricella. “Since then, the goats have captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people across the world. Our Instagram followers are emotionally invested in the day to day lives of the goats, and many are faithful financial supporters."
Although Goats of Anarchy is currently registered as a 501c3 non profit organization, Lauricella states that relying on public donations to fund the rescue has been quite scary. To help sustain the business, she's launched Go Fund Me initiatives as well as a coming book to stay afloat. She hopes through these ventures, she can successfully continue to grow her second sanctuary location which can hold up to 50 special needs goats.
“I'm so excited about our first book Goats of Anarchy: Goats Just Wanna Have Fun coming out in March of this year from Quarto Publishing," says Lauricella. “This book tells a brief story about each of our goats and how they came to the sanctuary. The rest of the book is filled with adorable and hilarious photos of their day to day mischief and goat antics. We are also launching a children's book series called The Animal Tales. Polly and Her Duck Costume, The Goat with Many Coats, and Piney the Goat Nanny which will all be out in the next year."
But despite the sanctuary's growing popularity, Lauricella is really aiming to change how the world sees goats, especially since she sees them as loveable and entertaining animals.
“I had no idea how many special needs baby goats there actually are," says Lauricella. “Unfortunately, many of these babies are euthanized because of the cost and time associated with their conditions. However, goats are just as loving as dogs. When raised in a loving home, they are affectionate, loyal and very entertaining."
The Quick 10
1. What app do you most use?
2. Briefly describe your morning routine.
Right now I have different five alarm clocks. Five baby goats are currently living in my house, and as soon as the sun comes up, they are all crying for their bottle. I feed each one, change their diapers, and put on their temporary prosthetics. Once they are all settled and happy, I head outside to the barn to feed the other goats, pigs, chickens, and our miniature horse and donkey. After feeding all of those guys, I put Angel in her wheelchair cart and put the prosthetics on four of our adult goats. Then I give out lots of hugs and kisses before I go back inside to start the bottle and diaper routine all over again.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
Sara Blakely, the inventor of Spanx.
4. What product do you wish you had invented?
Disposable diapers. I would have saved myself a ton of money!
5. What is your spirit animal?
Obviously a goat.
6. What is your life motto?
“If you spend too much time thinking about doing something, you'll never do it. Just listen to your heart and go for it!"
7. Name your favorite work day snack.
Hummus! I can eat it all day, every day!
8. Every entrepreneur must be...to be successful.
“You aren't successful if you aren't happy"
9. What's the most inspiring place you've traveled to?
I have done a bit of traveling, but I have no desire to travel anywhere else. The most inspiring place I've been to is my own back yard, as there is nothing more inspiring than watching special needs baby goats thrive in spite of their disabilities.
10. Desert Island. Three things, go.
Goats, hummus and cruelty free lip gloss!
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."