April 15, 2024

Wonderful Beginnings: Alumni Spotlight on Lucas ‘09 and Noah ‘05 Kraft

How did your time at Oakwood help to prepare or impact you for your current career path?

LK: It fostered my greatest strengths, creativity, and individuality. I doubt that I would have been able to cultivate both of those to the same degree anywhere else. I was allowed to express myself and explore what that meant, freely, in everything I did. It did this for every student, and seeing others able to express themselves and grow in their creativity gave me the courage to do it myself.

NK: Oakwood allowed me to be fully myself. From being a terrified and anxious Kindergartener who needed Julie to walk me to PE because I was scared to be away from adults to being president of the upper school, Oakwood was always supportive of me being me.

Did you think about being entrepreneurs while you were at Oakwood? And how did that time influence your future?

LK: It’s not something I ever planned for, however, I always had the spirit within me and Oakwood helped me to develop that. Oakwood allowed me to truly understand my capabilities and shortcomings. During my time at Oakwood, I explored promoting concerts, managing artists, and putting on events, which I’ll always look at as my first experiences in entrepreneurship. It wasn’t just the institution of Oakwood that helped me find this passion– it was also the community Oakwood provided that supported me. Without both of those, it would be hard to say I’d be where I am today.

NK: Absolutely not and I think that was one of the best parts about Oakwood. I did not feel any pressure to plan for my career.  We were allowed to just be kids, explore, and be ourselves. That’s what makes Oakwood beautiful—and because of that, I ended up at Brown doing a similar thing and taking time to discover.  I enjoyed the humanities without a clear path and was learning for learning’s sake.  I also landed in college much more prepared than my peers because I had been taught the most important skills: analysis and synthesis, lack of fear to ask questions, reading comprehension, and a healthy level of not accepting the status quo.

Did you know what you wanted to study/focus on academically when you graduated from Oakwood?

LK: I actually did, but it wasn’t what I ended up doing. As mentioned in my previous response, during my time at Oakwood, I was promoting concerts, managing artists, and putting on events. These experiences led me to major in Music Industry at Syracuse’s Bandier School. I went into music management for a few years, following graduation. In the long run, I found that the entertainment industry wasn’t for me. 

NK: Not at all. I took 14 subjects in my first 16 classes at Brown. Oakwood gave me the confidence to explore.

Did you have a favorite class or teacher at Oakwood? 

LK: Harold Boughton’s class on Science Fiction. I have always been a daydreamer and that class felt like a journey into the world of people who had mastered the art of daydreaming professionally, shaping their lives around it.

NK: Jim Astman’s AP Psychology Class and Jerry Goren’s independent study on Ethics. The fact I was able to take classes with the Headmaster and Principal (and in the latter case, with only one other student) was very rewarding (and unique to Oakwood).

What do you love most about what you’re doing now?

LK: Being able to work with my brother.

NK: Being able to work with my brother.

What advice do you have for young, aspiring entrepreneurs?

LK: It is difficult to give advice because everyone has a different path. However, the most objective advice that I can give is to follow yourself, not the potential money or success. We created Wonderbelly because it was something we believed in, first and foremost, and that is the core reason I believe it is as successful as it is. Creating something opportunistically, without true conviction and heart, will make getting up every day a struggle. It will likely create a disconnect between you and your audience, as it lacks authenticity. Lean into your strengths and create something that resonates with you. 

NK: Just do you—fully. Confidence is key and conviction is paramount.  Resilience is the most important attribute. Get ready to go to the mat for what you believe in and take external inputs with a grain of salt. There is no path to being an entrepreneur. Make your own. 

What are some of the things you like most about being a part of Wonderbelly?

LK: Having my brother as my partner and doing something that we truly believe is meaningful and impactful together. Wonderbelly’s goal is to help relieve people of pain, and we want to do it in the most thoughtful way possible: clean ingredients, enjoyable flavors, and sustainable packaging. We also want to be a medicine that goes beyond a transactional relationship with its users. Rather than a brand that exists purely on pharmacy shelves, we want to be involved in communities and help people proactively. We recently partnered with NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) in a months-long campaign to raise awareness and support for those struggling with eating disorders. 

NK: Working with my brother and seeing the positive impact we have on people who suffer from belly issues, and those who have to deal with the stigma surrounding eating disorders. It is amazing to see how normal bodily functions (farting, pooping, etc) are so taboo, and watch as people slowly become more comfortable talking about these very normal, human things.

What is a professional highlight of your career, either where you currently work, or in the past? 

LK: From a professional perspective, it was creating something that I personally needed, and seeing that I wasn’t alone. Wonderbelly was a product I would want to buy, but when we launched, it wasn’t clear if other people felt the same. Seeing our success in Target, Erewhon, Kroger, Ralphs, on Amazon, and more (where we are now a best seller and redefining the category) gives me so much fulfillment and validation. From a more personal perspective, having the opportunity to use our elevated platform to share my story and my struggles with bulimia, in hopes it will help others, has been incredibly fulfilling.

NK: Seeing Lucas share his truth on Instagram Live with the National Eating Disorder Association.

Do you have a favorite moment or a fun memory to share from your time at Oakwood?

LK: This isn’t necessarily a singular moment, but I met my wife, Hannah Wood ‘11, at Oakwood, so, it’s a collection of memories with her. My favorite moment, above all, is proposing to her in the atrium on the Secondary Campus in 2018—almost ten years after my graduation. 

NK: During our senior day, we pushed Jim Astman into a kiddie pool and he smiled through the whole thing. I still tell people proudly that I went to a high school that was so awesome that the headmaster was willing to get dunked by the seniors—fully clothed—and appreciated it.