Bring a Donkey to Work? Entrepreneur Magazine says yes!

FarmHouse Fresh founder Shannon McLinden decided that she wanted to use the company's resources to rescue neglected farm animals. Now, they keep the staff grounded at HQ.

Look up from your office desk, and there's a lamb gamboling by in a diaper … Uh, are you dreaming? Not if you're working at FarmHouse Fresh. The multinational botanical skin-care company, which launched 17 years ago from Shannon McLinden's kitchen sink (where she made its first foot scrub), did $40 million in retail sales last year with products in thousands of spas, salons, and resort hotels. But the staff is equally inspired by "colleagues" like Flower (that's the lamb's name), whom employees have been bottle-feeding after his mother rejected him.

FarmHouse Fresh didn't originally intend to run an actual farm. But that changed 10 years ago, when McLinden and her sister-in-law Delia McLinden, who serves as vice president of sales and business development, took part in a common practice: They sent treats to their top clients for the holidays. "We spent $19,000 on dessert," says Shannon, "and thought, What are we doing?" Going forward, the McLindens decided to use their resources more meaningfully — by rescuing abused and neglected farm animals. Today 10% of profits go to that mission, and the sheep, donkeys, horses, and goats are right there (when not in the office) on a 10–acre sanctuary that surrounds the McKinney, TX, headquarters, which also has a test spa and outdoor greenhouse. "You can compete on a very high level like we do," says Shannon, "and still do that extra step of changing the world in some way." The employees feel it. They know the harder they work, the more Flowers they can save. And there's nothing like a good lamb nuzzle.

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