BABE #265: KRISTEN TETRICK - Director of Sustainability, Lucky’s Market
As Director of Sustainability at Lucky’s Market — a grocery store dedicated to good food and making sure that everyone can enjoy it — Kristen’s in charge of improving and maintaining the company’s sustainable practices. Initially working in the marketing department, her desire to focus on environmental impact inspired her to pitch the role that is now her current position. By implementing and managing programs that reduce food waste, increase recycling, improve in-house packaging and create sourcing policies, Kristen is constantly working towards a better, greener Lucky’s, and setting the standard for other companies to do the same.
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Current city: Denver, Colorado
Alma mater: Ohio State University; Metropolitan State University of Denver; University of Saint Mary
Degree: BFA, Digital Art; MBA, Concentration on Marketing and Advertising
Very first job: Telemarketing
Hustle: Director of Sustainability, Lucky’s Market
Babe you admire and why?
I have huge admiration for Ellen DeGeneres. She’s a pioneer who always speaks her truth, and uses her influence to promote kindness and well-being for both humans and animals… and did I mention she’s hilarious?!
How do you spend your free time?
My free time is dedicated to my husband and son. We love to have fun while traveling and exploring our city or the outdoors, but mostly we just like to hang out. We’re a trio that does pretty much everything together; it’s awesome.
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
Americano with a splash of almond milk.
What’s something you want to learn or master?
The Spanish language.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Tell us about your hustle.
As the Director of Sustainability, Lucky’s Market my role is designed to improve our company’s sustainable practices. More specifically, I focus on programs that reduce food waste, increase recycling, improve in-house packaging, create sourcing policies, implement efficiencies to water and energy usage and build the culture of sustainability awareness among our team members. I work with all departments and stores, as well as manufacturers, distributors and community partners to achieve our goals.
What does your typical workday look like?
My workdays vary anywhere between social communicator to focused researcher. Sometimes I’m investigating a variety of solutions to new or current programs, other times I’m writing or presenting training materials and some days I’m doing data entry for ongoing reporting. But most of the time I’m finding ways to convince others to make small changes that lead to positive environmental impacts—and then becoming their personal cheerleader for doing so.
Have you always been passionate about sustainability?
A passion for sustainability comes naturally to me. My interest in environmental impact grew out of my work in social impact. I had spent years volunteering for local organizations in my own community, but it was only after spending those first five years at Lucky’s, working with our local nonprofits across the country, that I was inspired to do more. I saw how hard these folks were working on achieving social and environmental results for their communities and I knew we had to do more. I wrote a new position for myself that would give me the flexibility to further our company’s [dedication to] making an impact. After about six months of going back and forth (did I mention how much time I spend convincing others to make small changes?), we agreed on a strategy where I would focus solely on our company’s sustainable programming. Thus, the director of sustainability role was created.
How would you describe your leadership style?
My leadership style is to empower others by giving them the tools to do their job and believing in their success. In the example of building the culture of sustainability at Lucky’s, I create incentives for the team to get excited about incorporating sustainability into their personal lives. My hope is that if they follow their own passion projects (like replacing single-use plastics, or reducing food waste), then they will feel empathetic [and more open to] engaging in the programs we have set up in the stores. This is an important piece to the puzzle, because it’s our team members who make in-store programs successful.
What can the average person do on a day-to-day basis to have more sustainable food-purchasing habits?
Food waste is a major problem and one we all participate in. The first thing to do is give yourself a personal audit of how much food you waste in a week. You can do this by keeping a simple log or journal of what you throw away. From there, it’s a matter of finding the patterns. Some common offenders are buying too much of one thing or letting your produce go bad in the fridge, but there are ways to increase your mindfulness when shopping. For example, take inventory of what you already have before you go shopping for more. When buying perishables, have a recipe or two in mind and plan on making those in the beginning of the week before they go bad. If you know you’re going to buy something in bulk, have another meal idea in mind for the remainder of that one ingredient. There are so many ways to reduce food waste, but identifying your own habits of waste is the key to fixing them.
How have your past professional and academic experiences prepared you for the work you do today?
My background in grocery retail has been hugely beneficial to what I’m doing today. This industry has taught me so much across the spectrum, from consumerism and marketing to food justice and corporate social responsibility. From an operational standpoint, my previous experience has been crucial to creating sustainable programming for our stores. I would be lost if I didn’t know what made this industry tick. However, the single most useful skill I have learned is how to approach, engage and collaborate with a variety of personalities. I’m lucky to be in an industry where I’m exposed to all different types of people, with a wide array of backgrounds. This keeps things very interesting, to say the least.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
Being a woman in this industry has been challenging at times, but I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some pretty supportive people along the way. Over the years, I’ve learned two important things that have helped me navigate my way through my profession: First, I pick my battles strategically and go after the ones where the juice is worth the squeeze. Second, treating others with respect, regardless of how you feel about them, is an underestimated skill. So, basically, in both cases, don’t be a bulldog. Did I learn these things just because I’m a woman? I can’t say. But I am certainly self-aware of what it means to be a woman in business. My opinion on how we can create more equal, uplifting spaces for women is twofold: First, we respect ourselves as women and know our value and self-worth, then we respect our woman peers and make genuine efforts to lift each other up. When we see value in ourselves, we can see value in others. Supporting and encouraging one another in the workplace is the best way to increase our presence (and pay) throughout all industries.
What’s the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
There are a lot of women in my industry. As you get closer to the top, the ratio of women thins out significantly, but I do see this evolving. A few years ago, I would often be the only woman (or one of two) at the table in a board room full of men. Today, the rooms have more women present, sometimes half or more, but I certainly wouldn’t call the position of power balanced. There is still plenty of room for improvement there.
Are you involved with any side projects?
Yes, I am involved with Slow Food, which is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting food that is good, clean and fair while protecting local food cultures and traditions. I serve on the board of directors for Slow Food Denver and serve as the Colorado State governor for Slow Food USA.
Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
There are so many women in my field (and beyond) working on great projects that inspire me. Within the grocery retail space, I immediately think of Brenna Davis at PCC Community Markets in Seattle, and Jessica Adelman at Kroger. Brenna and her team have made huge strides in social and environmental impact for their community, from advocacy on sustainable food systems to eliminating petroleum-based plastics from their deli packaging, and so many other inspiring projects in between. Jessica and her team have brought great clarity to their overall mission with their Zero Hunger, Zero Waste campaign. It’s so inspiring to watch a company of their size target these two specific global sustainability goals, where they can make a major impact while creating systematic changes.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
I feel really strongly about all of us having a specific purpose in life. Some find their purpose sooner than others, but we all have dreams to follow. The best career (and life) advice I can offer is to find your passion and act on it. Sometimes that might mean you try several different paths along the way, but keep in mind that every path leads somewhere. When you’re good at something, and you enjoy doing it, that’s not wrong. As the saying goes: Just follow your heart; it knows the way.
In partnership with:
Lucky's Market is an organic-focused grocery store chain that began in Boulder, Colorado in 2003 and has 39+ locations today. Lucky's Market believes good food shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a right. We’re excited to be partnering up with Lucky’s for this week’s featured interviews as well as our sold out event: A Grocery Guide with Babes Who Hustle.