The GROW program at Bounce supports both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs as they bring their ideas to life. The program focuses on minorities and women. Jess Taylor (right) and Natalie Ringeis (left) are graduates of the sixth cohort of the MORTAR at Bounce program, our 15-week business accelerator.
Jess Taylor founded Love the Green Life to help others learn how to adopt a sustainable, plant-based lifestyle. Together with Natalie Ringeis, director of development, she’s launched a podcast, coaching program and an annual wellness conference that promote a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
As MORTAR at Bounce cohort 6 graduates, Taylor and Ringeis found that the program helped them define a path for their business while supporting their own personal and professional growth.
“Through Bounce, we were able to narrow in on what we do and create a synopsis that we’ve used to apply for grants,” said Ringeis. “This work was key to Jess receiving a full scholarship to Cornell University for a certificate in plant-based nutrition.”
Taylor has also always been interested in running a business. “MORTAR gave us an outside perspective that enabled us to connect the pieces we already had in place,” she said. “It’s hard to see that in the day-to-day. Through our involvement at Bounce, we were encouraged to think more broadly.”
Finding meaningful work
In college, Taylor majored in dance and thought she would have her own studio one day, but injuries forced her to retire as a dance teacher. Ringeis always knew she would become a teacher, even writing an essay about it in the fourth grade, but found the job too difficult to juggle with the demands of raising a young family. While doing some soul-searching to figure out the next move in her career path, she shadowed Taylor, who was starting Love the Green Life. Together, they recognized other business opportunities in promoting an eco-friendly, plant-based lifestyle.
“We did the podcast on a community radio station in Wadsworth and it took off,” said Ringeis. “We found a niche in wellness education.”
As they grow Love the Green Life, Taylor and Ringeis continue working other jobs. Taylor is part of a family-owned vintage furnishings business, Peace, Love & Vintage. Ringeis recently started a sales position at Plus-Plus USA, a Denmark-based educational toy company with an office in Akron.
“Through this entrepreneurial journey, I’ve gained confidence and self-awareness, which led me to this sales position,” said Ringeis. “Although the toys are made with food-grade plastic, it fits into our sustainability mission as they are manufactured with 100 percent wind energy.”
Ringeis is collaborating with Plus-Plus USA in an education-focused, upcycling effort to donate tubs of colorful construction pieces to schools in need across the country.
“Each bin will have over 2,000 pieces that would have been left as damaged or discarded,” she said.
Investing in a sustainable future and community
The goal for Love the Green Life is to open a vegan café and wellness center with speakers, classes, artists and other offerings that promote sustainable, healthy lifestyles. With a solid business plan, Taylor and Ringeis recognize that MORTAR at Bounce gave them a crash course in turning their ideas and passions into a viable business.
“You have to trust yourself and put yourself out there to make connections and follow your passions,” said Ringeis. “That will always be a win.”
Both Taylor and Ringeis have continued to stay involved with Bounce as mentors paired with other MORTAR participants.
“We provide assistance with their classwork, reviewing their pitches and synopses, answering questions, and providing help and resources,” said Taylor. “Meeting and collaborating with new people and guiding them through the program has been really fun. It’s also a great way to stay connected to Bounce and all the amazing people we have met!”
To learn more about Love the Green Life, please visit https://www.lovethegreenlife.org/.
About the author:
Jill Wodtley, APR, is a freelance writer and owner of Fine Point Public Relations and Advertising. An accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, she develops and implements marketing communications, public relations and advertising initiatives for a variety of clients, ranging from health care and social service agencies to industrial/manufacturing firms.