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Springfield, MO

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2019 40 Under 40: Lauren Brown, 33

Co-owner, Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe

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Lauren Brown has taken her parents’ family business to new levels, expanding Neighbor’s Mill into Springfield and developing a second location.

With her husband Clif, they first brought Neighbor’s Mill to Springfield in 2016, modeled after the original concept in Harrison, Arkansas. Their new restaurant across from Mercy has a target opening in mid-April.

At the heart of it all is a commitment to wheat made on-site and an atmosphere of servant-leadership.

“My employees have seen me do dishes, they see me get down on my hands and knees to clean a spill off the floor,” she says. “If you see your boss on the front lines of battle alongside you, as opposed to seeing them on the sidelines barking directions, then they are much more likely to stick with that team and stay loyal when times are hard.”

What was your first job? My parents owned a Dairy Queen franchise. I was supposed to walk through the parking lot and keep a log of all the out-of-state license plates. My dad confessed he just did that to keep me busy.

What are you doing to make the Ozarks better? We’re trying really hard to keep the craft of bread baking and milling wheat alive.

What did you learn the hard way? I need to clearly define my expectations. I’m learning how to be a better boss and leader every day and a big part of that is learning how to sit down with my team to communicate a clear vision. 

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