What started out as a side hustle that morphed into another side hustle that became a real, full-time success story is how you could describe this entrepreneur’s career experience. Lauren Coulter moved to Louisville with her husband after college, both pursuing careers as pharmacists. They opened Uptown Art in the Highlands as a side hustle and found that not only did people love to come to paint with their friends, what they really liked was drinking wine. That realization led them to open LouVino, which was the only wine bar-restaurant in town. There are now three LouVino locations, two in Louisville and one in Indianapolis. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that caused Lauren to launch a local chapter of the children’s nonprofit entrepreneur program Lemonade Day last spring, which challenged 500 youth to start new businesses all across Louisville on a single day. We look forward to seeing what Lauren will do next in this community. But wait! We forgot to mention that she is still a pharmacist, albeit now only part-time, so whatever her next venture may be, it might be yet another side job! In any case, we are delighted to introduce today’s FACE of Louisville, Lauren Coulter!
You are a pharmacist for your “primary” career. Tell us how a “side hustle” evolved into LouVino.
We opened Uptown Art, which was Louisville’s first “paint and sip” concept, and really just thought we would do it on the side. It exploded, and we decided to open a second location in Southern Indiana. We realized that people loved coming to Uptown Art because they had a fun time painting, but they also liked to enjoyed their wine (a LOT!). We also realized that Louisville didn’t really have any restaurants that were focusing on wine. There was lots of beer, lots of bourbon, but nothing easy and approachable from a wine perspective. So we thought, “Hey, why not? This will be fun!”
How did you come up with the concept of LouVino?
LouVino evolved over the course of about a year. We initially wanted to open up a place that people could walk around and pick out wine by themselves and have either a taste or a glass or a large glass from the wine machines. The Louisville ABC didn’t quite like the idea, so it evolved into a small plates restaurant concept. My husband met with our chef, Tavis Rockwell, just one time, and it was like something clicked. We knew this is the path that it was supposed to take!
What has been your experience with opening up a local business here?
Louisvillians are always ready and eager to try something new out, so you have to be ready to go and be on your A-game from day one. You don’t get weeks to learn how things work or fix your processes. It has to be on point from the get-go, or else you pay for it in the form of Yelp reviews. (Don’t even get me started!)
How are you managing three places at once?
We hire great people — seriously, our staff is amazing. We have been able to retain all the management and most of the head chefs have been promoted from within. Good help is really hard to find, but we seem to get lucky on most of these fronts.
What is next on the horizon for you?
If the stars will continue to align, we will be opening up two more locations: one in downtown Indy, one in Cincy. Oh, and not doing any sleeping — at all.
Tell us about Lemonade Day and why it is important to you.
Lemonade Day is a program that teaches kids the power and simplicity of entrepreneurship through a lemonade stand. We just had 390 kids participate in our first ever Lemonade Day in April and are already in the works for our 2018 event. Our goal is to have 1,000+ kiddos go through the Lemonade Day program this year, with the majority of those kids having their lemonade stand on April 28, 2018. Chad (my husband) and I brought Lemonade Day to Louisville because it is a mix of two things we are passionate about: financial literacy in Louisville’s youth and entrepreneurship.
This is important to me because it focuses on financial literacy, and it teaches it in a way that is approachable and fun. Also, I think it is important for kids from all walks of life see that entrepreneurship is an option for them — college is so expensive now! I’m definitely not advocating that kids do not go to college, but I just think that it is important that they see the opportunities that can be available to them outside of a traditional path.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
I have a million things that really aren’t much of a secret. Travel is the obviously fun choice. But also I think I would love to work in our local government in one capacity or another. I have learned to love this city and would love the opportunity to get to understand other parts of it. I would love to be the next Tom Owen.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I was on “The Price is Right” back when I was a freshman in college. I acted like a fool to get up there. We have the recordings. They are “hashtag classy.”
What are three words that describe you?
Doer, giver, kind
What advice do you treasure?
This one is hard. I really can’t put a finger on an exact line or words of wisdom that I’ve lived by. I’m simplistic, so statements like “do good” resonate with me. Also, growing up, my dad would tell me I could do anything or be anything I set my mind to. I think that has been a constant idea that I have come back to many times over.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my _________.
Planner — I love it. I really, really, really love it.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
Favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Eat (to stay on topic) and probably the classic answers: going to farmers’ markets and festivals, walking the bridge, sitting outside of a coffee shop and enjoying the buzz of a city, and sitting on my back porch swing for a nap.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
I definitely have a book “type” I like — anything by Jodi Picoult, historical fiction or anything where a woman is a badass.
What are three lighthearted or frivolous things you can’t live without?
My back porch swing — now that it is finally getting to be fall, I can use it. Football would probably make that list too. (Go, Georgia Bulldogs!) And my bicycle!
Thank you Adele Reding Photography for the beautiful pictures.
To be inspired by other great women in Louisville, check out our other FACES of Louisville here.