Welcome to Trading Places, a small-business series which takes a look at entrepreneurs who have successfully transitioned from working in the corporate world to founding their own business. If you have such a story you'd like to share, please email me.
Three years ago, Laura Howard was living the Hollywood life of glamour that many dream of. She had a house in the hills, a wardrobe with designer names from Christian Louboutin, Fendi to Mark Jacobs and she dined out in Malibu and Beverly Hills almost every night. As an executive producer for Palomar Pictures, Howard lived a fast-paced life, working long, hard hours and regularly traveling to places like London, Paris and Barcelona. Her life was luxurious and her job, exciting. But after a few years of working in the entertainment business, Howard couldn't help but feel unfulfilled. Something, she says, was missing. Howard tried to satisfy the empty feeling by taking up hobbies. She started practicing yoga and even traveled to India, where she became involved in the slow-food movement. "Yoga really helped me slow down and take a big step backwards," Howard says. "Before, life whizzed by me so fast that I wasn't getting the most out of my experiences." Howard eventually realized Los Angeles, even with all it had to offer, wasn't for her. So in 2004 she packed up her house, moved to a farm in Sonoma County and launched her own goat's milk ice-cream line. Now, almost three years later, the 40-year-old Howard lives on a 3,000-acre farm -- with her daughter, husband, eleven cats, some goats, chickens and a rooster -- where she runs her thriving business and is happier than she's ever been. "The biggest change since I've embarked along this new path is that time has just expanded," she says. "Every day feels like a really long period of time. I feel like I'm really living my life now."
Previous job: Executive producer for films and commercials Now: Founder and owner of Laloo's Goat's Milk Ice Cream
The transition: While completely different from the work she did in the film industry, "having animals is also a lot of work," Howard says. "You're up with sun, but you're outside in the most beautiful part of America and you're with living creatures. You're actually energized because it's physical labor. It really can't compare."