One Year in Business: Recap

One year in business for Amanda Nygaard Designs. How did that happen so fast?? I remember typing into Google “how to start a business” like it was yesterday. Looking back on the year, I can recall numerous times where I felt like I had a mountain of knowledge to climb in order to reach that next mark I was dreaming about.  

How do I register with the State of MN as a business?

How to set up a business checking account?

How do I go about mailing packages from my house?

How to set up an event display and what do I bring?

How to keep track of customer communication, sales, and purchases?

How to create an interview series?

How to create a website?

The list goes on and on.  But looking back, it is amazing to see how much I have learned mostly from trial and error but also from friends in the creative community.  Originally, I started Amanda Nygaard Designs as a creative outlet.  A way for me to have that little bit of "me time" to do crafty things which is when I feel most like myself.  At the time, we were living in our house for about two years and over those two years I created several home decor pieces.  My husband and I enjoy DIY projects and since the time we moved in, our 1969 rambler was beginning to feel more reflective of us and the look we were originally intending.

Around that same time, I noticed a few friends beginning small businesses (Junk by Jenny, Rinkles, and Freckled Designs Co.) and I thought, why not me?  

The Beginning:

August of 2016 we had a 2 year old, a 4 month old baby, and I was gearing up to begin working full time since maternity leave.  But I felt in my heart it was time to put my creative projects out into the world and start a small business, one that I have wanted from a very young age.  You see, in high school when people asked what I wanted to be when I got older, I would respond with either saying a wedding planner (anyone watch Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner??) or that I wanted to own a business.  I never knew what that business would be up until recently.  

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The month prior in July of 2016, I got my feet wet while participating in a local craft vendor event.  The process of preparing for the event was exciting and the best part was actually creating the ideas I had in my head.  August was when I started to get the ball rolling in obtaining a business name, getting a tax id number, signing up for a checking account, etc.  It is always encouraged for small businesses to have some sort of business plan in place before opening shop.  I didn't.  It was just a hobby.  But after such a long time of pondering the idea of starting a small business, I decided to just get started and let it evolve as life evolves.  This quote by Walt Disney best represents why I started Amanda Nygaard Designs:

"The way to get started is to avoid talking and begin doing."

-Walt Disney

Along the Way:

Over this past year, I started selling hand painted signs with my own designs.  It has since evolved into almost 100% custom work.  After a lot of trial and error, I have come up with several sign dimensions that I feel or “top sellers”.  Then customers contact me with a sign request and since I have a variety of signs pre-made, I have a shorter turnaround time with preparing a draft and creating their sign.  

There were many late nights building signs in the dark and cold garage and also a lot of evenings spent sitting at our dining room table hand painting and packaging orders while drinking a glass of wine. With two kids and a husband, I have always tried to be mindful of the time I put into the business, being sure that it does not carve away time from them.  Often times I would wait to work on projects until after the kids went to bed or save it for weekend nap times.  

Looking back, I am so glad I participated in the following events because it provided an excellent opportunity to network and surround myself with other people in the creative industry.

  • December - Brooten Craft Fair

I was on the fence to sign up for this event, but I knew a family member would have a booth next to me so I saw it as a bonding opportunity.  The event was a good experience in terms of gauging audience interest and the mechanics for setting up a booth.  At this event I met Mandy Brower, who had a Mary Kay booth and was also in the midst of planning the first Lakes Area Wedding Expo.  We connected and she encouraged me to try to market my products towards the wedding industry.  Again, I was on the fence but I decided… what’s to lose?

I have to admit, I was n-e-r-v-o-u-s driving to this event.  This was something that I had never done before and I was going to be next to a lot of established businesses in the wedding industry.  Fortunately, this was another event that I gained a lot of knowledge about paying attention to audience interest, how to market my products, booth set-up, and what my follow-up communication would look like if someone was interested in purchasing a custom sign.  My mom attended this event with me and it was fun to have a super fan by my side all day. At this event I met more people in the wedding industry such as Tessa from Gathered Oaks which lead to another event in July.

My sister and brother-in-law opened a taproom in Fargo and we collaborated with our cousin, Stephanie, to have a combined LuLaRoe party and Amanda Nygaard Designs display in their mezzanine.  I stretched myself leading up to this event in trying new designs such as macrame, weaving, and painting on canvas.  It was a great learning opportunity for me to try new skills.  The best part of this event?  Family.  My parents, siblings, and a few cousins were able to attend and have fun into the night.  

When I find interesting businesses or people online, the first thing I look at is their About page.  I want to know more about them and the story of how their business took shape.  So I decided to try my hand at planning and organizing a local interview series that highlights local makers in the creative scene.  It was very well received and brought so much joy to the highlighted individuals and joy to me as well.

  • July - Gathered Oaks Open House

Gathered Oaks is a new event venue in Alexandria, MN that recently opened.  I was asked to be a vendor at their Open House.  At this time, school was out and the weather had been beautiful which made late evenings preparing for the show highly enjoyable.  The atmosphere of the event was very relaxing and so many people attended the event in good spirits and low stress.  This provided a nice opportunity to talk to a lot of people in the Alex area as well as the surrounding communities.  A few former classmates from my high school, Bertha-Hewitt, even stopped in which was such a fun surprise to see them in that setting.

The Future:

I am so excited for what the future holds for Amanda Nygaard Designs.  Almost everyday I run ideas past my husband, some WAY out there and some minor and easily attainable.  My confidence has grown and I appreciate the quirks about me more than ever before.  I am creatively free and that is a great feeling.  If I have an idea of what I want to make, a new interview series, or a new way of marketing my products, I have the confidence and tools to go about researching and trying something new.  I hope to keep creating as long as my heart is telling me to keep putting one step in front of the other.

Growth Ideas:

Branding - I would love to fine tune my web presence and have a mission statement and core values.  

Providing creative jobs - This may be years down the road but if I were to be blessed with having the opportunity to create a job that encourages creativity, that would fill me up with all sorts of good feels.

Flowers - As many of you can see on my social media pages, I have enjoyed playing with flowers lately and have been thinking about offering services in the future.  Stay tuned!

Home Design - I will be going back to school online this fall for Architectural Technology in hopes of getting into the residential drafting scene in the future.  Stay tuned!!!

Thank you, thank you to all those that have followed along in my journey and have supported my small business.  I believe that God has a plan for everyone and my advice to you is to listen to His signs.  Listen and look for the sometimes very subtle and sometimes very clear directions He is trying to point you in for your next chapter or season in life.  

 

Peg - Rinkles

Blog Series: Morris Makers

Maker/Owner: Peg Rinkenberger

Business Name: Rinkles 

Peg is the kind of person that will bend over backwards and go out of her way to make people feel comfortable and welcomed.  As a colleague of hers in the high school, I feel inspired by the rapport she has with her students, how she is always up for trying something new in the classroom, and to put it simply... her drive.  

Peg does amazing work with reclaimed wood and always has an upbeat spirit about the design process. I enjoy hearing about what she is currently working on or a new tool that she picked up and cannot wait to try out over the weekend.  Beyond that, she is one of the kindest people to be around and I feel so lucky to have her in my life not only has an inspiration, but as a friend.

Everyone, meet Peg!

"What a joy it is to be considered a “Morris Maker”!  Amanda Nygaard is one of the kindest and thoughtful women I have ever known.  This quality woman is so talented.  She is a genuine person with a generous spirit.  Thank you, Amanda, for inviting me to share in this experience!"  -Peg

1. Provide us with a little background about yourself.

My dad and my grandpa both played with saws, drills, hammers, and wood.  Grandpa regularly was out in the garage (pronounced like “gare ridge”) making something.  My dad must have spent time with Grandpa as he was also handy with tools.  As a little girl, I remember watching Dad while he was at the workbench in the garage on Saturdays.  Both of those influential men have passed now.  Now it is my turn.  It is sad to me that I found my love of working with tools after they had gone but it feels good when family members speak how my dad would be thrilled that I have found my own way to work with wood and create items for my home.  There are times that it feels as though my dad is outside working with me.

2. Tell us about what it is you make or the services you offer.

Most of the items I have made are signs, home décor, and headboards.  I have enjoyed doing custom work and try hard to make the item “special” in some aspect.  However, working on custom work can be a bit stressful as it is important to me that the customer is completely satisfied.  Everything I do is hand created and therefore there are small imperfections as I use reclaimed wood to create my crafts.  My customers typically embrace the “one of a kind” item that I am able to create.

3. At what point did you decide to take your entrepreneurial leap of faith?

A couple of years ago some friends and I were having coffee at the Common Cup in Morris.  We decided to go to a friend’s shop and play with pallets.  My first item I made for myself was a 42” pallet clock.  When I began showing my work, other friends responded favorably.  I continued to make items to give away.  Friends convinced me to try to sell some of my creations.  The final push came from my colleague and friend, Jenny Maras, proprietor of Junk by Jenny.  She was having a sale and invited me and several others to join her.  The sale was successful!  It was at that point I decided to take the “leap of faith”.

4. Where do you gather your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere.  Most recently, I took a trip with a friend to Waco, Texas where we visited Magnolia Market and the Findery.  Both had fun items and ways of displaying them.  I was definitely inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines!  Other HGTV shows provide inspiration as does Pinterest.  Honestly, this morning’s sunrise and early morning rainbow got me thinking as I was driving.  Sometimes that thinking time allows for insight into solving problems that have come up while creating items.

5. What has been a highlight since beginning your business?

Of course, I love the creative process and the learning that comes with all of the work but I think the highlight of my business is the time that my husband and I spend together.  We go dumpster diving for wood.  I should say that he dives and I haul the wood to the truck.  Taking pallets apart is much more fun with the two of us. Those of you who have dismantled pallets you know they can be buggers!!!  Last year, my hubby and I worked together to raise enough money to take our family on a vacation over the Christmas holiday.  We’d never done that before.  This business endeavor has been a “win-win” in so many ways!

6. Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you went about overcoming it.

Working in my little garage and on my front yard can be challenging.  I do not have a shop.  Every time I work, I have to take my tools out and when I am done, I have to put things away.  It is important for me to be cognizant that there are children in the neighborhood and so it is important that I unplug, lock, and use any other method of securing the tools when I run into the house for a short while.  My neighbors are awesome!  I appreciate that I am not the only one who likes to play with saws.  One retiree said he would call an ambulance and collect my limb if I have an accident and the other told me he would teach me how to change my saw blade on a table saw that another neighbor gave to me!  I have embraced my challenge and enjoyed the fresh and sometimes brisk air I share with my wonderful neighbors!

7. What do you see in the future for your business?

This business is more of a hobby.  It is relaxing and it soothes my soul.  I do not foresee it growing into a larger business.  My husband and I have recently purchased a Harley trike with the purpose of spending time together and getting out on the road.  My business really is a way to enhance my life rather than rule it.  Therefore, I can see that it will ebb and flow as time allows.

8. What advice do you have to share with someone thinking about the entrepreneurial route?

The process of becoming a business is rather easy.  I would say, “Go for it!”  There is something rewarding about learning how to start a business.  It was good for my brain!  I have also enjoyed getting to know other creative people in our community as a number of us get together to have sales.  This fall will be our third sale.  We are currently looking to set a sale up for September.  If you want to create a business, remember to let it work for and reflect you.  If it does that, it will enhance your life which will guarantee its success!

9. How can people purchase your products or services?

Honestly, if you have an idea, contact me.  I might be able to make it come true.  However, I might not.  I will tell you if it is beyond my abilities.  If my work does not meet your expectations, I will not hold you to purchasing the item.  I prefer local customers as I have not yet tackled the world of shipping.  You can also come to one of our sales!  Watch my Facebook page for notification of any upcoming sales events!

10. Where can people find you online to follow your creative journey?

You can see some of my work by checking out my facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/rinklespallets/

Thanks for giving me your time! 

A big thank you to Peg for participating in this blog series, Morris Makers, which highlights crafters/entrepreneurs in the Morris, MN area that have at one point played a role in inspiring me to begin my creative journey with Amanda Nygaard Design.  The hope of this blog series is to shed light on the person behind the scenes and to encourage others to pursue the dreams on their minds as well.  

This interview marks the end of the six interview Morris Makers blog series.  If you missed one of the previous interviews, check them out here: Carrie, Lexi, Cate, Jenny, and Amy.  And don't be afraid to show your support by "liking" their Facebook or Instagram pages or by saying hello.  

Thank you so much for following along!

Amy - Made-N-Press

Blog Series: Morris Makers

Maker/Owner: Amy Zimmel

Business Name: Made-N-Press 

A couple of summers ago my family was sitting on the curb watching the Prairie Pioneer Days Parade and I remember seeing Amy and her family walking in the parade throwing out t-shirts to promote her new screen printing business.  As with most crowd situations when free items are being thrown out, I secretly hope to be lucky enough to have an item tossed my way but never stress over it when it does not happen.  Well in this case, I was really hoping for it to be our lucky day.  And it was!  When I first heard Amy was starting a screen printing business, I was excited to hear and see more.  So having that freebie of hers to wear in the early stages of her business was always fun to wear with the Made-N-Press name on the back.  

Amy is the kind of person that always has a smile on her face and is kind to everyone.  I have seen her work with students demonstrating patience and warmth.  With all of the wonderful reviews I hear of Amy's work from around town, I always look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.  

Everyone, meet Amy!

1. Provide us with a little background about yourself.

Hi! My name is Amy Zimmel. I grew up in Herman, MN. My husband, Brad and I moved to Morris almost 15 years ago. I was a daycare provider for the first 12 years of living in Morris. I then decided to try something new. I have 3 daughters and 1 little boy. If I am not working in my back garage I am usually running after one of my kids.

2. Tell us about what it is you make or the services you offer.

If you can put a logo, picture, or saying on it I can help you out. I enjoy creating my own ideas but also do a lot of logo work for shirts, can coolers, and bags. I am always looking for new ideas and love when customers share their ideas! So keep sending them!

3. At what point did you decide to take your entrepreneurial leap of faith?

About 3 years ago I found myself buying a ton of tiger apparel for my own kids and for birthday gifts. That is when I said, “Brad I have a great idea” he dreads hearing those words out of my mouth. That following spring we went to a show with heat presses and screen printing equipment. That day we purchased what I needed and my journey began.

4. Where do you gather your inspiration?

My inspiration to try something I really enjoy comes from my husband. I was envious of his love for his job. He goes to work excited almost every day, I wanted that! And now I have it! My inspiration for designs come from my customers, Pinterest, and my own crazy ideas. I love when a customer tells you about what they want and you get to design it.

5. What has been a highlight since beginning your business?

My highlight has been when I come up with an idea, throw it out there and it takes off like crazy. I love making things other people enjoy. I also like walking into a sporting event and seeing many of the items I made on the fans.

6. Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you went about overcoming it.

Ship times. It can be a huge challenge! I have to make sure I allow enough time for people to order but also enough time for the articles to get here and get them done on time. There have been a few times I have cut it closer then I should have. But for now, everything has worked out!

7. What do you see in the future for your business?

I hope to grow. I hope to reach more communities. I would like to sell at more craft fair events.  But for now being a full time mom with this as my hobby, I am doing what works for me.

8. What advice do you have to share with someone thinking about the entrepreneurial route?

Advice......If there is something you love to do you will make it work. It may take some time and failed attempts, just have faith.

9. How can people purchase your products or services?

If you would like to place an order you can find me on Facebook, or you can email me.

10. Where can people find you online to follow your creative journey?

If you would like follow me on Facebook- Made-N-Press Email-a.zimmel@hotmail.com

 

A big thank you to Amy for participating in this blog series, Morris Makers, which highlights crafters/entrepreneurs in the Morris, MN area that have at one point played a role in inspiring me to begin my creative journey with Amanda Nygaard Design.  The hope of this blog series is to shed light on the person behind the scenes and to encourage others to pursue the dreams on their minds as well.  

Please check back Thursday, June 29th for the LAST interview in this series.  

INSIDER INFO: I am in the works of creating a second interview series that will hopefully launch later this summer.  Keep checking in for announcements!

Thank you for reading!  Compiling the interviews was just as much fun for me as it was for you reading them.  And thank you again for supporting small businesses all around you. 

Jenny - Junk By Jenny

Blog Series: Morris Makers

Maker/Owner: Jenny Maras

Business Name: Junk By Jenny

It is safe to say that Jenny was one of the very first I people I met in Morris.  In fact, she was on the hiring committee when they were interviewing for a new Family and Consumer Science teacher.  That was just over five years ago and I do not think either of us could have predicted where we would be at today with our businesses or how close we would become over those years.  As a newbie teacher, I used to ask her how to line up a field trip and where to make copies but now when we see each other over the noon hour we chat about SEO for our blogs and Instagram hashtags.  

Jenny is full of big ideas and is able to execute those plans while paying attention to the finer details along the way.  I have seen her transform her garage and backyard into a beautifully styled shopping boutique with a whole bunch of junk.  She has already accomplished so much with Junk By Jenny and she has shown no signs of stopping in the future.  

Everyone, meet Jenny!

1. Provide us with a little background about yourself.

I'm a farm girl at heart who married her junior high school , who is now commonly known as Junk Hunk.  We have 2 kiddos who run circles around us most days and wouldn't have it any other way. I met my best friends in elementary school and loved them ever since.  To put it simply, I'm as nostalgic as they come and love traditions.  I am a high school teacher by day and a junker by night.  My preferred drink of choice is coffee, at all hours of the day and night.  I am the super freaky fan girl at a Kenny Chesney concert. I enjoy all holidays, but begin preparing for Halloween in August.  Someday, I'll own a vintage VW convertible. I am detail-orientated and exploding with creativity most days. I am proud to say I am a small business owner, chasing the American Dream. 

2. Tell us about what it is you make or the services you offer.

Junk By Jenny is a combination of TV shows American Pickers and HGTV's Flea Market Flip.  I am on a constant quest to find cool old pieces that maybe need a little love in the form of elbow grease or a fresh coat of paint.  I love metal baskets, chairs, and never resist a pedestal table.  I never can have enough paned windows or large, orate frames.  I used to have a deep love for old doors, until I was pinned under one in a dumpster, in a rainstorm, wearing a dress.  This happened one morning before school and a student had to help me old.  It was memorable for both of us. 

3. At what point did you decide to take your entrepreneurial leap of faith?

My life as a junker really was born out of an identity crisis.  For the longest time I thought of myself as an antiqu'er.  I even had personalized license plates that read ANTIQU'ER.   I found myself constantly frustrated with the expense and high-end nature of the antique industry.  Instead, I always seemed more drawn to the rusty, crusty pieces that most in the antique industry would turn the other way at. Fast forward 10+ years and I took the plunge with a website, tax ID number, and some business cards.  With a pile of treasures to share, Junk By Jenny was born.

4. Where do you gather your inspiration?

Like many, Pinterest serves as constant inspiration.  I love paging through magazines. In fact, a bucket list item of mine is to be featured in a magazine someday.  I tune into HGTV when time allows.  But really, most of my inspiration is generated in my mind...especially in the quiet hours in the morning over a cup of joe.

5. What has been a highlight since beginning your business?

My highlights come on any picking adventures I go on.  These adventures often involve my family and an empty suburban and trailer, only to be filled to the brim.  I adore the folks I meet on my adventures and have experienced a piece of their history.  I scour old groves, barns, or buildings to uncover the relics of the past.  The people often become emotional, but also are overcome with peace knowing their unforgotten treasures will have new life with me.  Picking is often a real, raw experience...and, time after time is what I love most about Junk By Jenny.

6. Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you went about overcoming it.

Upholstering chairs still scares me.  My most epic fail was my attempt to paint a fabric chair, with the keyword being ATTEMPT. Pinterest made it look so easy. It sat in my garage and even my dungeon basement for over a year as I dealt with my failure.  On a whim, my son and I gutted the thing and started new.  I ended up painting the wood a robins egg blue and upholstered with a duck cloth.  It really was cute.  The fear still burns inside of me though.

7. What do you see in the future for your business?

2 Words: Red Barn.  I so badly want a beautiful old red barn.  I would host four seasonal sales and DIY classes. I would also need little goats, peacocks, and a loyal farm dog as companions.  There would need to be pumpkins....lots of pumpkins.  I also dream of an old fashioned soda shop in the barn's loft.  I constantly remind myself to not quit my daydream. 

8. What advice do you have to share with someone thinking about the entrepreneurial route?

Entrepreneurship is so much more than being your own boss.  It fuels a burning passion deep inside.  For me, like many, I transformed a hobby into a revenue-generating business.  I would suggest doing just that.  To draw from the advice of one of my coffee mugs, "Find your tribe. Love them hard."  A new entrepreneur needs to surround themselves with other kindred spirits.  They also need to have a varsity level team of supporters.  I couldn't do what I do without my junk hunk (my husband), my kids, family and friends.  It also is important to apologetically, but kindly say no from time to time.  Finally, outsource to people who have the know-how that you lack, whether that person designs your website, oversees your finances, or simply offers the constructive criticism that we all need from time to time. 

9. How can people purchase your products or services?

This upcoming October will mark the 4th Annual Junk By Jenny Fall Sale in my yard.  It is always during the fall break at school because it works well with my teacher schedule.  The event includes early-bird deals, hot cider, a bargain cave, and a cozy fire.  New this past October was the addition of my "Junk After Dark" promo, allowing customers to enjoy half off deals.  Beyond Morris, I am a vendor a Junk Bonanza in the Twin Cities in September and April.  In mid-July, I will be at Market on the Farm, a new event at a beautiful horse farm near Willmar.  Finally, my website is a great place to read about all of my stories of the people I meet and I places I go.

10. Where can people find you online to follow your creative journey?

www.junkbyjenny.com

junkbyjenny@gmail.com

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bloglovin

 

A big thank you to Jenny for participating in this blog series, Morris Makers, which highlights crafters/entrepreneurs in the Morris, MN area that have at one point played a role in inspiring me to begin my creative journey with Amanda Nygaard Designs.  The hope of this blog series is to shed light on the person behind the scenes and to encourage others to pursue the dreams on their minds as well.  

Please check back Monday, June 26th for the next interview.  Interviews will be published Mondays and Thursdays for the rest of the month of June.  

Thank you!

Cate - Empowered Living Company

Blog Series: Morris Makers

Maker/Owner: Cate Schultz

Business Name: Empowered Living Company

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Cate yet, you are missing out!  She is motivating, inspiring, tenacious, and oh so kind.  For someone that is relatively new to the community of Morris, she has been making an impact on so many lives and hopefully many more to come.

Last August I began hearing buzz of a new workout facility in Morris that offered yoga and health coaching.  Wanting to learn more, I naturally jumped onto Facebook to snoop.  Soon after I took it a step further and went in for a class and loved the initial customer experience that Cate provided as well as the sweat session that followed.  

She has a way about creating an inviting and welcoming atmosphere at Empowered Living Company that I hear time and time again from people of all ages.  If you have not had the opportunity to check out ELC in person, I hope by the end of this interview you will consider visiting to see what kind of positive support Cate and the members at ELC can add to your life.  

 Everyone, meet Cate!

1.       Provide us with a little background about yourself.

My name is Cate Schultz and I am 23 years old. I grew up in Alexandria, went to the UofM and received a bachelor’s in psychology, met a cute local boy, married him and TA-DA, I’m a townieJ I am a certified Therapeutic Coach with specializations in Hypnotherapy, Practitioner of Neuro-linguistic Programming (N.L.P), Master Practitioner of N.L.P and a Master Practitioner of Humanistic Nero-Linguistic Psychology™. I also have my CrossFit Level 1 Trainer certificate and am working on my Yoga 200 RYT training. My soul is fed by helping others and I am truly living my dream! 

2.       Tell us about what it is you make or the services you offer.

I am the creator and owner of Empowered Living Company which is a space that offers Strength Training, Yoga, Mobility/Movement Coaching, Rowing and Therapeutic Coaching. At ELC we focus on community and helping people become their best selves.

3.       At what point did you decide to take your entrepreneurial leap of faith?

I was 21 and burnt out at my job. Which now as I have aged (a whole two years, I know) I realize that was more my own fault. Not setting boundaries, allowing myself to fall victim to the tornado effect of others and not allowing myself to come first when I needed to. I was working 70+ hours a week at the Heartland Girl’s Ranch and dedicating my life to those youth with little return. My co-workers were amazing and were a big reason I stuck it out but I was drained. My soul is set on fire by helping others but I was learning that I needed to help people who wanted to be helped, not those who weren’t ready to receive it. That’s a hard lesson! So I quit my job with no solid back-up plan and found myself an empty notebook and a pen. I started writing down all the ways I can help others in a way that is enjoyable for me and is where people want to be helped! I was driving to a Crossfit gym in Alexandria multiple days a week and for a lady who didn’t have a job…that was not going to work out long but I loved it!! I loved the atmosphere this gym had and I knew I had to bring that atmosphere to Morris. So I did! I also knew there were huge benefits to yoga and it was something that I wished the community had more of.

4.       Where do you gather your inspiration?

This is a hard question because I gather it from so many different places! My mom is a huge one. She’s a pretty fierce lady and it’s inspiring. The Crossfit gym in Alexandria was a huge inspiration! Seeing what they created and the atmosphere they created was something I just had to be a part of! My husband inspires me daily with his deep rooted entrepreneurial mindset that is contagious! But I think overall, all the people who walk through this door inspire me. They inspire me to work harder, push faster and create the best version of ELC that I can. Some people think it’s weird, but I often work 10-14 hour days. I do not do that because I have to, I do that because I am inspired to and honestly, when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like you’re working at all. When people walk through your door every day and tell you that they can do all pushups on their toes and they could never do that before, that’s inspiring. When people walk out of yoga in tears because they finally took time for themselves and it was just what they needed, that’s inspiring. When people tell you how they finally like to look at themselves in the mirror, that’s inspiring. When people who hardly even know each other are getting down and doing burpees with the person who is finishing last in the workout that day so that they do not have to finish alone, that is inspiring. My biggest inspiration is my athletes.

5.       What has been a highlight since beginning your business?

The people, 100%. Everybody who walks through this door has been the highlight. I have met some of the coolest people in the world and have made some amazing friends. The community that we have created here is honestly indescribable! People who didn’t even know each other are now great friends. The amount of support that is shared here is just unbelievable. Nobody walks out unacknowledged and everybody wants to cheer on and get to know everybody. It honestly gives me chills sometimes when I just look around the room and see the positivity that I was able to create through this space and seeing all those smiling sweaty faces.

6.       Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you went about overcoming it.

I would say as a young business owner, there a ton of random challenges that you face pretty much daily, but the hardest challenge has been getting people out of their comfort zones. Asking people to get vulnerable, show up and be seen! People tend to like to stay where they are comfortable and cozy and going to a new gym where you do not know totally what to expect can be scary. Or trying yoga for the first time and not knowing what to do when you walk in the room. It’s been hard to convince people to go out of their “zone” but the people who have, they have seen immense changes in their life and are constantly telling me, “I can’t believe I was nervous to come here.” Be brave people!

7.       What do you see in the future for your business?

Expansion. Growth. We are constantly outgrowing our space! We have a new expansion happening this summer and we are looking at the drawing board for future expansions beyond this summer. Last month, we had 14 new members! 14! The month before that, we had 10 new members, in June already, we have 9 new members! We are adding more staff, more classes, more class times, more events, it’s just constant! I would like to see a large expansion for us and offering more for the community in our near future.

8.       What advice do you have to share with someone thinking about the entrepreneurial route?

Do not allow other people to place their fear on you and let any the judgment go! You are strong, you are capable and there are a lot of people out there waiting for you to share your gifts! 

9.       How can people purchase your products or services?

You can come into ELC anytime between 9am-7:00pm to take a tour, sign up for classes, etc! We are currently working on an online payment system but that is still in the making. So come on down and check it out!

10.   Where can people find you online to follow your creative journey

Facebook, Instagram, www.empoweredlivingco.com, and also on our website you can find our blog.

A big thank you to Cate for participating in this blog series, Morris Makers, which highlights crafters/entrepreneurs in the Morris, MN area that have at one point played a role in inspiring me to begin my creative journey with Amanda Nygaard Design.  The hope of this blog series is to shed light on the person behind the scenes and to encourage others to pursue the dreams on their minds as well.  

Please check back Thursday, June 22nd for the next interview.  Interviews will be published Mondays and Thursdays for the rest of the month of June.  

Thank you!