Raised in Hyde Park and now based in Kingston, Lauree Ostrofsky is an author, speaker, coach, and founder of Hudson Valley Women in Business.
Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?
I’m an author, speaker, coach and hugger for my business Simply Leap, and I’m the founder of Hudson Valley Women in Business, the largest community of womxn business owners in our region.
My two books are “Simply Leap,” a happy how-to about facing fear and enjoying the crap out of your life, and “I’m scared & doing it anyway,” a memoir about my own reinvention after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in my 20s.
I’m also an introvert so as passionate as I am about helping people create more meaningful careers and businesses, and supportive communities around them, I double down on downtime. I’m talking serious hiding in pajamas. I know my fellow introverts feel me!
How did you discover the Hudson Valley?
I grew up in Hyde Park, moved away for college and then into Manhattan and Washington, DC for 15 years before moving back to the Hudson Valley a few years ago. More on that later…
Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Hudson Valley?
The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park will always have a place in my heart, because I used to visit it regularly in high school and even then understood how special the river views were. Now my favorite view is from the Walkway Over the Hudson riding my bike on early weekday mornings east from Highland to Hopewell Junction along the Dutchess Rail Trail.
Hudson Valley Women in Business hosts weekly and monthly coffees around the area so our hosts are some of my favorite places too:
- Outdated Cafe (Kingston)
- Local Artisan Bakery (Kingston)
- Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory (Poughkeepsie)
- Oak Vino Wine Bar (Beacon)
- Beacon Pantry (Beacon)
- The Cascades (Hudson)
- Pawling Bread Co. (Pawling)
- Mudd Puddle (New Paltz)
- Dottie Audrey’s (Tuxedo)
- Newburgh Mercantile (Newburgh)
- The Shake and Grind (Newburgh)
Do you have a go-to coffee or beer order, and from where?
I drink “baby coffee” which is the most un-coffee order possible: decaf mocha latte with oat milk. Basically I want it to look like I’m drinking coffee while actually drinking chocolate milk. Hands down, Irving Farm in Millerton makes the best decaf and Bread Alone in Rhinebeck (let’s hear it for a woman co-owned business!) is my favorite stop for it.
Where do you do your best creative work?
As an introvert, number one is in my home office wearing ear plugs.
The second is the exact opposite, while traveling. I used to ride Amtrak regularly when I rode home to the HV from DC and edited most of my first book that way. I’ve since written in Airbnbs and bus stations, while sleeping on my friend’s couch during a book tour, and in a coffee shop in Edinburgh.
What’s surprised you most about living and working in the Hudson Valley?
That I’m even here!
As a teen I was convinced that only failures move home (I know, harsh), so when I came back to the Hudson Valley after my first book tour in 2013 I made a pact with myself that it was only to visit for the holidays. It took me four years — most of them living in my parents’ house, because why would I get a place if I was leaving any minute — to realize that maybe it was possible to find everything I wanted by staying: a supportive community, meaningful work, being walkable to friends and fun, access to natural beauty and a burgeoning art scene. That’s when I moved to uptown Kingston and am so happy with the decision. The teenager inside of me is mostly persuaded too.
How has the Hudson Valley influenced or impacted your creative work?
The Hudson Valley has become the next iteration of my business. A year into “I’m not moving back, but I guess I’ll be here a little while longer” I wanted to make local friends, because it can feel lonely as a business owner working from home.
I met four other women business owners for drinks in December 2014 and we all felt so invigorated being around a table together — sharing what it’s really like to work for yourself — we agreed to meet again the following month. And the one after that. Over time we needed a Facebook group, and then a newsletter, and then a website. Hudson Valley Women in Business was born organically into a true community with nearly 3,000 members meeting monthly around the region and leaning on each other daily online.
What I’m learning about how Women Do Business Differently, what empowers us and what holds us back as we put ourselves out there, is the topic of the next book I’m writing now.
Are you part of any local groups or communities you’d like to mention?
Shout out to Hudson Valley Women in Business, of course!
I’m also on the board of the Bardavon / UPAC to support the arts in our region and keep it accessible for everyone, and the advisory committee of Dutchess Community College’s Business Management program.
There are so many business communities doing great things locally. When I’m not introverting, I like to support:
- Hudson Valley Tech Meetup
- Hudson Valley Venture Hub
- Women’s Leadership Alliance (part of the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce)
- Wisdom of Women with the New Paltz Chamber
- Hudson Valley Young Professionals
Anything you want to plug or promote?
The audiobook of my first book, “I’m scared & doing it anyway,” is now on Audible. You’ll see both books on Amazon in ebook and print formats too.
There are two Hudson Valley Women in Business events coming up soon. There’s a monthly meeting in Rhinebeck on November 11, and the 5th anniversary party and fundraiser on December 9th. For more information, visit https://hudsonvalleywomeninbusiness.com/events.