Why this woman left a career on Wall Street to make pizza boxes (hint: because she's awesome)
A career in finance was never Jennifer Wright-Laracy’s dream job. Still, she worked for over ten years at places like Citigroup on Wall Street, and things were moving forward reasonably well. But when the economic crisis hit in 2008, Jennifer went to Columbia Business School to get her MBA and soon found a passion for a career that was polar opposite: making specialized, multi-functional pizza boxes.
It just so happened that Jennifer had a friend named William Walsh, who held a patent for a convertible pizza box, and he was interested in recruiting Jennifer for her savvy business skills. Jennifer sprang into action and created a business plan with him, even securing $50,000 in funding. Jennifer told CNBC that she “realized it was a fun idea,” though didn’t expect to stay full-time.
Pretty soon after that, Jennifer founded Greenbox with Walsh and his business partner, Ned Kensing. Jennifer was undeniably in the pizza box business.
Made from 100% recycled cardboard, the Greenbox boxes break into four sturdy plates, as well as a compact storage unit for leftovers (genius!). They’re all about making consumers’ lives easier, while being environmentally friendly.
After Ashton Kutcher tweeted the word “smart” with a link to the Greenbox YouTube video, Greenbox experienced a meteoric rise to success. But although the business exploded, their journey was marked with some tragedy. Walsh unexpectedly died at age 44, and Jennifer was left to drive the company forward with Ned. They’ve done a remarkable job, and Greenbox continues to go from strength to strength.
In regards to changing careers and being her own boss, it seems like Jennifer has no regrets. As she told CNBC, “I can’t imagine going back and working for someone else.” For anyone looking to try a different career, she emphasizes the importance of three simple things: researching the company or area you’re interested in, believing in yourself, and asking for help if/when you need it.
Sounds like perfect advice, even for those content in their current careers.