Female Entrepreneurship

Yoga Tribe Finds New Home at Castle Community

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Three years after launching her entrepreneurial vision, innovator Heather Ritenour-Sampson has found a new home for her business, Yoga Tribe. After growing her community for wellness in the former location of Cube Coworking on South Broadway, Ritenour-Sampson continues to expand her tribe alongside other like-minded creatives at the Castle Community.

Yoga Tribe, Ritenour-Sampson explained, is a yoga studio that provides a community for adults centered around health and wellness. The studio offers a variety of classes including restorative, yin, and vinyasa yoga and is open to people at all levels of yoga experience. 

“Fundamentally I want people to know that you are welcome here,” she said. “You are going to find all kinds of people [at] all ages and different physical ability levels.”

The first time Ritenour-Sampson tried yoga herself, which was incidentally from a rented VHS tape from her student union, she hated it. It wasn’t until after the birth of her first son that she got back into yoga again, this time having a much more positive experience through classes at the local YMCA. 

“It was hard. It was challenging. It confused me and frustrated me in a really good way because I needed that in my life at that time. And every single time I got done, I felt so much better,” she explained. “I feel that it started to get me more in touch with myself in ways that I hadn’t really considered before.” 

Propelled by a canceled yoga session at the YMCA, Ritenour-Sampson decided to get trained so she could teach classes herself. She enrolled in a weekend long training program to become a certified yoga instructor, eventually moving on from the “Y” to teach yoga classes with the Rochester Athletic Club (RAC).

Ritenour-Sampson said her time at RAC was incredible for mentorship and her own personal growth as a teacher. During this period, she also enrolled in an online coaching program to think about her career path. 

“What I realized from doing that process and kind of giving myself permission to dream bigger is that I was really treating my work like a hobby,” she explained. “I just had this feeling of really wanting to see what it felt like to do it on my own.” 

Ritenour-Sampson came from a very entrepreneurial family. She herself is artistic and innovative. Prior to opening Yoga Tribe, she was teaching yoga as a freelance instructor. She also does floral design and contract writing. In the end, opening up her own yoga studio, where she didn’t need to ask permission to do anything, didn’t seem like such a big leap. She felt the need to create something in the Rochester community focused on yoga that could bring people together to “laugh and cry and sweat and flow together.” Now, she has over five hundred hours of yoga teaching certification and is approved to teach others to become yoga instructors.

Three years after opening the business, Ritenour Sampson has learned multiple lessons.

“I feel like is has been baptism by fire for sure,” she laughed. “When I went into [Yoga Tribe] then and what it is now, the mission and values are similar, but the execution is different. I feel really grounded and I feel confident with what I am doing now compared to not really knowing and shooting arrows into the dark.”

A coach at her fundamental core, Ritenour-Sampson joked that “transformation is really my jam.” Connecting with people over a long period of time and witnessing their breakthrough moment remains her favorite part of yoga instructor life.

After growing Yoga Tribe for a few years on South Broadway, on April 1st Ritenour-Sampson moved her business just a few blocks north into the second floor of the Castle Community. She said the space and collective artistic community just feels right to her from a scaling standpoint. 

“For me being in a space with artists here, I feel like it’s going to help integrate who I am as a person because I am a writer, I play music and sing. I like to draw and paint and sometimes make things,” she said. “So I just feel this is more authentic to who I am. I really see yoga as a movement art and I see art as healing. So I just feel this is the right place to be.”

#Emerge 25 with Laura Elwood

Today on our latest #Emerge video we sit down with Rochester native and fierce female entrepreneur Laura Elwood, owner of Chamberlain Concierge & Lifestyle Management. This business just reached its three-year anniversary, providing limo service coupled with a concierge menu to bridge the gap between a client’s need for visiting Rochester to the local hospitality industry.

“If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to find a way to make it done. And I’m going to find a way to make it done better than what you expected. I think it’s really easy to be competitive with other people. It’s harder to be competitive with yourself.” -Laura Elwood 

Check out the full interview with Laura in podcast Episode 125

Strong Women Creating Value 2019: Stacy Lequire, Co-Owner of Vitality Chiropractic

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Local entrepreneur, mom, and volunteer Dr. Stacy Lequire is helping her patients achieve control over their total health one step at a time. After returning to southeastern Minnesota from the Boston area in 2008, Stacy and her husband Ed co-founded their second business, Vitality Chiropractic, in Rochester and have been caring for patients, locally, ever since. 

“I’ve always been a questioner and a seeker of answers,” said Lequire.  

After obtaining her chemistry degree from University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, she knew her career was headed in a different direction, enrolling in Northwestern Health Sciences University to obtain her Doctor of Chiropractic. Since that time, she’s seen the difference chiropractic care can make and how one change can cause an “upward spiral” towards better health.

“For me, health is about habits. So, I try and look at those little things we do. I don’t think there’s one big thing that changes everything. It’s a lot of little habits,” she explained.

Lequire’s observed a definite need in the community for the services Vitality Chiropractic offers, where she and Ed develop long term relationships with their patients and help them make lifestyle changes. 

“We try to come in in the early innings to say, ‘Hey, this is about you making choices. This is about you being empowered to do things for your own health,’” she explained.

Launching a business like Vitality Chiropractic in a highly medical community is always a challenge, Lequire said. As a wife, mom, entrepreneur, and volunteer, time is another challenge to building her business and forging more connections in the community. 

While the Lequires are growing their own business, they’re also incubating other small health and wellness companies at their northwest Rochester location. Vitality Chiropractic houses several partners in their building- including Kim Kraft Therapeutic Massage and Fitness 4 Ever- to help keep costs low for these entrepreneurs and to help them flourish.

“We feel like we are creating something unique in the community with the partners that we have here. I love being able to get into people’s lives in that way when it comes to health,” Lequire explained.

Strong Women Creating Value Season 1, Episode 4: Stacy Lequire

This week we wrap up our Strong Women Creating Value series for 2019 sharing the story of Stacy Lequire, Co-Owner of Vitality Chiropractic.

"I'm always in awe of people, women entrepreneurs, because I know from the handful of people that I interact with regularly, that it's a huge juggling act." -Stacy Lequire

Strong Women Creating Value 2019: Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker, Owners of MedCity Doulas

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Rochester entrepreneurs Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker are breaking down barriers and working together to serve families and other “bad ass” women in the community. In 2016, the pair founded MedCity Doulas to offer support to women from pregnancy through postpartum.

These strong women are here to prove that being a doula- a trained professional that offers physical, emotional, and informational support to mothers- is a sustainable career option for themselves and for others seeking to help women with these highly specialized services. The pair specifically works to build “bridges between patients and medical staff for a more positive experience on the patient’s end,” Baker explained.

These entrepreneurs were driven to create MedCity Doulas in response to a general lack of support, especially postpartum, for mothers in the community. 

Baker’s personal postpartum experience was extremely positive- she was hired late in her pregnancy by her employers and was encouraged to bring her newborn to work- although she quickly learned this was not the norm. Steele saw many families having negative and traumatizing experiences as new parents. She became passionate about supporting parents during that time frame and molding new parenthood into a positive experience. 

While fueled by passion to bring MedCity Doulas to life, these innovators faced significant challenges to get the business running. The first obstacle was basic education about the role of doulas and convincing people it was a professional service that deserved a cash exchange.

“We are women selling traditional women’s work as a professional service. So, wrapping people’s heads around that idea, that we are here to mother mothers and that has a dollar value, has been a hard concept for some people,” Baker explained.

Steele said the pair was not taken seriously when they first started out. Although both women are highly educated- Steele is finishing up her master’s degree and Baker has a degree in design plus management experience- the doula field is not always taken seriously. They faced particular roadblocks when seeking financial assistance for the business.

“We didn’t give up. We went to four different banks before somebody believed in what we were doing,” Steele explained.

With the three-year anniversary of MedCity Doulas fast approaching, these women are looking forward to continued growth of the business in the community to support families.  

“It’s exciting that we have a women-owned business in 2019 in Rochester, Minnesota in an industry that is related to healthcare,” Baker said. “We are really lucky to be operating here specifically.”

While MedCity Doulas has certainly blossomed over the past years, these entrepreneurs have also witnessed much change in the female entrepreneurial community in Rochester, especially with increased events and resources for women in business.

“I’m really hopeful for all the things I’ve seen so far in the community and all the things that are being built,” Steele explained. “But it’s also hard because now that we have more things we’re pulled in more directions.”

She said in particular we still need more balance to integrate moms into these events and activities, especially those individuals without childcare options.

Strong Women Creating Value Season 1 Episode 3: Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker

In the third part of our "Strong Women Creating Value" series we chat with Rochester entrepreneurs Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker, owners of MedCity Doulas. MedCity Doulas is a Rochester-based doula agency providing emotional, physical, and educational support through pregnancy, brith, and postpartum.

"We're women offering women-based care and sometimes that's not looked upon as a profession." -Amanda Steele

Strong Women Creating Value 2019: Danielle Teal, Founder of Caring Acts of Kindness Everywhere

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Rochester woman Danielle Teal says kindness has changed her life and impacts her every decision. She believes that kindness is an underrated tool to motivate community change. Fueled by this passion, Teal founded the initiative Caring Acts of Kindness Everywhere (CAKE) to publicly share local acts of kindness to normalize the behavior and to inspire acts of kindness on a larger level. 

CAKE is a volunteer group in the community that utilizes social media “to motivate change and influence people to carry out acts of kindness,” Teal explained. 

Some individuals strongly believe that acts of kindness should remain anonymous, which Teal says, CAKE supports. She hopes, however, that CAKE is changing any negative connotations associated with sharing acts of kindness publicly. Teal says studies demonstrate that both recipients and witnesses of public acts of kindness are inspired by that act, enough to often perform an act of kindness themselves.

“Our goal is to share public acts of kindness to create opportunities for people to do it collectively as a group in mass quantities and to really motivate and inspire change in the community to normalize kindness,” she said. 

Acts of kindness don’t necessarily have to be big. They can be as simple as buying someone a cup of coffee, volunteering, or just offering a stranger a genuine smile. 

Kindness, Teal explained, also involves giving people grace and the space and forgiveness they need to navigate their feelings and experiences. This doesn’t excuse abusive behavior, she explained. However, Teal says we are all human and perfection does not exist. 

While operating CAKE takes a large amount of effort, Teal’s driven by “the impact and the results from the recipients and watching a kindness initiative continue. It truly is a ripple effect and you can see it.” As a mom of two, she wants her daughters to be positive individuals who promote kindness. 

“[Kindness] has changed the way I parent. It has changed the way I interact in a work environment. It’s changed me in the community. I am not perfect by any means,” Teal said. “I am absolutely not perfect. But I try to do my best every single day.”

Join us for this new workshop event to bring forth our best selves. Ticket prices will increase on March 25th. Click image for more information and to register.

Join us for this new workshop event to bring forth our best selves. Ticket prices will increase on March 25th. Click image for more information and to register.

Inspiring acts of kindness in others, however, does sometimes have hurdles. At times, when a call to action for a kindness initiative is shared there’s a large outpouring of support. Such is the case in the fall when seeking volunteers to pack Thanksgiving meals. However, Teal said, sometimes kindness is not seen as a viable option to resolve an issue or bring about change. She sees this gap particularly in leadership and teamwork.

Kindness and compassion, Teal said, are surprisingly effective tools to increase productivity and to influence team dynamics.

Kindness, she explained, promotes long term change. 

“It makes people feel valued and it increases the bridge of connection to understanding. It cultivates a culture that makes people want to be a part of and that’s what makes things continue to be enhanced, to get better,” Teal explained. 

Kindness, she said, matters.

“It’s not that [CAKE] is looking for the gratitude and it’s not that we are looking for the ‘thank you’s. It truly is the group and myself. We are not looking for anything in return,” Teal explained. “But when you see the impact that [kindness] really changes someone else’s day and it impacts them in a positive way and you know that it’s an enhancement in their life, that’s why it matters.”

Strong Women Creating Value Season 1 Episode 2: Danielle Teal

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we continue our “Strong Women Creating Value” conversation by chatting with Danielle Teal, Founder of CAKE - Caring Acts of Kindness Everywhere. CAKE is a community initiative that “utilize[s] social contagion through public Random Acts of Kindness in mass efforts to help cultivate positive inspiring change”.

"I would say if you have a dream, if you have a goal, the first thing to do is to act on it." -Danielle Teal

Strong Women Creating Value 2019: Christine Beech, Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies

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To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re bringing back our popular “Strong Women Creating Value” series, telling the stories of four innovative women in Rochester. This year all four women were selected based on nominations from the community

To launch this series for 2019, today we chat with the amazing Christine Beech, Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

In her role at the Kabara Institute, Christine fosters a spirit of entrepreneurship among her students and connects them to the surrounding entrepreneurial communities in both Winona and Rochester.

Christine’s nominator explained that she “goes very unrecognized for all of her efforts. As a newer member of the Rochester community, she put in a large amount of time and effort to meet with people in the community to understand the culture, understand what was needed, and understand where she could plug in. She always listens and asks advice of others. She does all these things without expectation of anything in return.”

Christine recently developed and launched a series of women-focused events, called WE (Women Entrepreneurs) forums, in partnership with Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. and others in the community. She held her first packed house event in January during a snowstorm. Her second event, a business development workshop, will be held in late March.

“What I think we are creating now is a platform for women-focused and women entrepreneurial community development with conversations around the issues that are facing them,” she explained.

Christine hopes to hold forums, which utilize a panel format, quarterly, and workshop events, where women focus on and work ona specific business skill sets, in between the forums. 

“One of my hopes is that one of the things that we’ll do with this forum is to create a place where women can come together and collaborate and work together,” she said.

Christine sees many talented women in the community who can speak at these forums and lead the workshops.

“We would like to create a venue where we are tapping into that talent for the benefit of the growing ecosystem,” she explained.

She sees new businesses as the “lifeblood of the economy.” However, many entrepreneurs starting new ventures lack focused business training and don’t know where to go for support. 

“I think there’s a need in the community for imparting those skills,” she explained. “We are starting with the female-focused group because I think that group specifically seems to be craving that kind of support for their business efforts.” 

This event takes place on Sunday March 31st from 10:30-12PM. Click the image for more information and to snag your ticket!

This event takes place on Sunday March 31st from 10:30-12PM. Click the image for more information and to snag your ticket!

This initiative is partly driven by her own experience. Christine spent fourteen years in business development before joining Kabara and recognized a lack of support for these efforts in her community. After joining academia, she saw a chance to give back to people who were in the early stages of building a business or had reached a plateau in business growth.

Christine additionally sees an immense need for evidence-based information on business development- putting numbers behind what works and what doesn’t work- instead of the typical personal anecdotes supplied by most mentors. She hopes to gather this type of informative data through the WE Forum events. 

While Christine knew these women-focused events were needed, there were several challenges she faced to get women to actually attend them. The first was brand recognition. Most people in Rochester associate the name “Saint Mary’s” with a hospital, not an academic institution. Many people are also unaware that Saint Mary’s even has a presence in Rochester, which is located in the northwest region of the city at the beautiful Cascade Meadow Wetlands. Her second challenge was connecting these events to the women most in need. To do this, Christine utilized her network, partnering with over twelve different institutions to help spread the word to diverse groups and get buy in from the community.

As a whole, Christine thinks it’s a good time to be part of the female entrepreneurial community in Rochester.

“We have incredible, brilliant physicians. We have women leading regional initiatives. We have women in a lot of very key points. So that, I think, is going to make a more attractive environment for female business startups,” she explained.

To accomplish this, Christine thinks women need to have their own network that’s collaborative, not competitive.

“And they need to plug in and start leveraging each other. I feel like that’s just building. It’s not quite there yet,” she said.

Strong Women Creating Value Season 1, Episode 1: Christine Beech

In celebration of Women's History Month we chat with Christine Beech, an example of just one strong woman creating value in the Rochester community. Christine is currently the Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. Christine is also a mom, veteran, entrepreneur, business owner, consultant and a strong female leader in this city.

Rochester Rising Seeking Your Nominations of Visionary Women in the Community for Return of "Strong Women Creating Value" Series

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This March marks the 41st anniversary of Women’s History Month, a celebration of female contributions to history and society. This festivity is also, historically, associated with a theme. This year, Women’s History Month is focused on “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.” 

To celebrate this month and to showcase local visionary women making lasting contributions to our community, we’re continuing our “Strong Women Creating Value” series that we began on Rochester Rising last year.

This year we’re asking for nominations for this series.

What visionary Rochester women do you know who have identified a real need in the community and launched a business or non-profit, created an initiative, or brought about needed change in this city to address that need?

Please use this form to send your nominations by Friday February 22nd.

Your name
Your name
Who are you nominating for the "Strong Women Creating Value" series? *
Who are you nominating for the "Strong Women Creating Value" series?

Here’s to all the strong women creating value in our community.

Is your business interested in sponsoring this series? Send us an email for pricing inquiries.

Women Entrepreneurial Panel Says the Money Is Out There To Fund Local Women-Led Businesses

Photo courtesy of Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.

Last week over fifty intrepid women braved a winter storm to attend a Women Entrepreneurs Forum on funding sources. The event, led by Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. and Saint Mary’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, provided a connection point for business women in the local ecosystem and brought to the surface funding pain points experienced by these innovators. 

The forum included a panel discussion featuring Jennifer Gowin, a Commercial Local Officer with Premier Banks Rochester, Cathy Connett, CEO and Managing Partner of the Sofia Fund, an angel investment fund for high growth potential women-led businesses, and Laura Hart, Loan Officer with the 504 Corporation

Although at the national level, women-led businesses receive less investments and less capital via bank loans than male-led companies, Gowin and Hart aren’t necessarily seeing this phenomenon at the local level. Though Gowin sees the same size of business loans being awarded to men and women, she’s observed more men than woman applying for loans to fund their company. Hart explained that the funding is out there. But it’s unclear to her if women are not aware of these opportunities or choose to not pursue them. In the venture capital and angel funding world, where there are more male than female investors, the picture is a little more lop-sided.

“Typically, unfortunately, like invests in like,” Connett explained.

Although there are less women investors in general, female business owners, Connett said, also typically wait too long to seek equity investment than their male counterparts.

“Women often want to have everything lined up before they [seek funding]. Whether it’s a bank loan, or whether it’s equity, or anything else,” she explained. 

Women, Connett said, are just as likely to be risk takers as men.

“But I think we don’t want to expose ourselves to risk sometimes,” she explained. 

When looking at loans and investments to any business, the panel said, several factors contribute to the final decision. As a bank, Gowan explained, her employer is fairly conservative when granting loans. Banks typically assess business collateral. If light, the bank will also look at personal assets and personal credit. They will also closely assess the business owner and her level of understanding of her business and the associated industry plus her ability as a founder to overcome any associated risks. 

The team’s capacity to overcome adversity, Connett explained, is a significant factor in angel and venture capital investment.

Excitement, passion, the ability to tell a compelling story, and a clear need for the business in the community are all vital pieces to secure funding, the panel explained.

Resources to fund female, and male, owned businesses are out there. As women, we just have to put ourselves out there and go after it. 

“Events like this are important as they allow entrepreneurs to come together and learn, develop community, and share resources. This event specifically created a venue for women entrepreneurs to increase their knowledge on the opportunities and barriers they face in funding their businesses,” said Christine Beech, Executive Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “The speakers and roundtable discussions were designed to help these entrepreneurs develop new strategies to identify opportunities to fund and grow their businesses.”

Future events and workshops like this funding forum are in the planning stages to address additional unmet needs for local business women.

New Childcare Center Hosts Open House Today!

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Stewartville, MN (Wednesday, October 24, 2018) – Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC, a newly constructed childcare center in Stewartville with capacity for 99 children, will be opening its doors next week. The Center is holding an open house to showcase their progress to the public for the first time on Thursday. The open house details are included here: 

When:  Thursday, October 25, 2018

Time:    4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Where: 200 Schumann Drive NW, Stewartville, MN

Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center is hosting this open house to help families understand the significant features and services offered by their facility and talented team of caring professionals.  The open house will include tours of the premises and light refreshments. 

“Now that construction is completed, we are ready to start inspiring life-long learning in all of our children,” said owner Krystal Campbell. “We’re excited to welcome the public in to experience how we plan to celebrate and the uniqueness of all of the children we will serve!”

This open house is free to attend and is open to the public.

About Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC

Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC is family owned and operated by Krystal and Patrick Campbell.

The center focuses on the provision of a safe, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate environment for children from six weeks to age twelve. An emphasis is placed on the value and uniqueness of each child that is served.

As caregivers and educators, the team at Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center strives to promote each child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Their programs plant seeds of knowledge in every child to inspire life-long learning.

For more information about Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, please visit www.sprouts-childcare.com

#Emerge Episode 22 with Janessa Nickell

Today on #Emerge we sit down with Portland native and current Rochester resident Janessa Nickell. Janessa is a business strategist turned entrepreneur who also formerly trained for Olympic weight lifting. Janessa recently launched her entrepreneurial vision with her brand-new business Sacred Circle, which she runs in her home in southwest Rochester. Sacred Circle is a space for people to learn, connect with like-minded individuals, and grow while understanding more about themselves through introspection and reflection.

“On paper it seemed like I had my stuff together. I was pretty successful by a lot of measurements. I was also incredibly burned out and tired.” -Janessa Nickell, Founder of Sacred Circle

Press Release: Rochester Public Schools Girls Win $10,000 Prize in Minnesota Cup

Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN]. B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A students and professional mentors.

Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN]. B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A students and professional mentors.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A team of three middle school and two high school girls from Rochester Public Schools won the $10,000 Sunrise Banks prize in the 14th annual Minnesota Cup business startup competition held by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

The girls developed a cell phone app named Bridge that provides resources for immigrants to improve their quality of life in an unfamiliar community by helping them access banking and broader financial support.

The team, called B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A., is sponsored by the local chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) and the Rochester Public Schools (RPS) and developed its app in cooperation with a local nonprofit, the Diversity Council. 

This past May the girls first submitted their app at Minneapolis’ fifth annual Technovation “Appapalooza” meet, a competition for middle and high school girls that is part of a global program.  They ranked highest in the high school division and thus qualified automatically as a semifinalist for the Minnesota Cup.

In mid-2017 a different RPS high school team sponsored by the BDPA, called SKeMAS, became a first runner-up in the Technovation Challenge globally and was awarded $5,000 in scholarship money as a result.  One of the five B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A. girls was on a BDPA middle school team that was a Technovation qualifier at the Appapalooza in 2016.  In 2015, a team from Kasson-Mantorville Middle School was one of only four finalists in its division worldwide at the global Technovation finals held in San Francisco.  

The Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide startup competition in the country.  The SKeMAS team was a finalist in the 2017 Minnesota Cup youth division as well as in the Women-Led teams division where they competed against adult teams.  B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A. likewise competed against at adult teams for the Sunrise Banks prize.

Students on the B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A include: Audrey Whitney, Bailey Klote, Anjali Donthi, Alexandra Bancos, and Simran Sandhu. Professional mentors for the team included: Ginny McCright, Kris Whitney, Scott Klote, Gina Whitney, and Courtney Kramer.

Sunrise Banks:  As stated at https://sunrisebanks.com/about-us/who-we-are/, this financial institution “innovates in the financial services industry and strives for financial inclusion for all. Sunrise Banks is a family owned national chartered bank headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota and has a long history of serving inner city communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The bank's six branches are primarily located in the urban core of Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

What is Technovation[MN]? A 12-week program that connects professional mentors to all-girl teams to enable girls to dream up, design, and code mobile phone apps.  Coaches keep the teams on track with the support of a few professional mentors.  Each team of up to five girls develops a real-world combination of technical and entrepreneurial skills as they code an app and prepare to pitch their idea at Minnesota's statewide event in early May, the Appapalooza. Selected teams have the opportunity to advance and compete in the global Technovation Challenge, as did a middle school team from Kasson-Mantorville in 2015 (which also led to participating in the 2016 White House Science Fair).

Technovation was brought to Southeastern MN by Code Savvy, Technovation[MN], Preventice Technologies (Rochester office), and the former Rochester Area Math Science Partnership (RAMSP), now called STEM Forward; in the Rochester area Technovation has received financial support from IBM and the Mayo Clinic.

Where Are They Now?: HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management

Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

One year ago we shared the story of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management, a cooperative-style real estate investment group started by local entrepreneurs Kim Gordon, Beth Nordaune, and Erin Nystrom. HGR, or HomeGirl Rochester, was launched in May 2017 to bring together groups and individuals who were interested in investing in real estate (primarily in rental home properties), but just did not have the time or finances to do so independently.

Since we last spoke with HGR a year ago, this trio of women has continued to make valuable connections with potential investors in the community to push their vision forward. 

“We’ve also met with people that want us to bring together groups and buy investments so that they can rent the houses from our group,” Gordon explained. “It is amazing to me how difficult it really is for many people to find affordable housing that is also in good condition.”

Over the past year, HGR formed their first group of five female investors utilizing this cooperative-style business model to purchase a home for a young client who had a credit score just one point too low to buy the home herself. With the help of HGR, this client will rent the home from the first investment group for two years, with the intent to purchase the home at the end of that time frame. This process will allow the client to improve her credit score and amass a larger down payment. 

 “It was so great to not only have success with HGR, to bring a group together that has wanted to invest, but it had a ‘feel-good’ story with it too,” Gordon said. 

Over the next five years, HGR aims to invest in five more rental properties with this first group of women. The business hopes to additionally create two more investor groups to purchase a rental property this fall using the same cooperative model.  

“It is still a huge goal to reach out to as many people as possible to tell them about our concept and continue to build interest,” explained Gordon.

The business has investors seeking involvement in even bigger real estate projects; now HGR is tasked with finding just the right partners to make these visions come to life.

Branding- It’s More than just a Logo. How to Tell Your Story with Centric Creative Consulting

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“There’s so much more to creating a brand and marketing your business than a cool logo,” explained Kati Cooley, Owner and Principal Creative Strategist at Centric Creative Consulting.

After being in business for over two and a half years, Centric itself recently re-branded to better convey their message and serve their clients through brand development, market strategy, and business consulting services.

“While a logo is important,” Cooley said, “delving into your business’s brand is key. It answers the who, how, and why behind the business, its principles, and why the business exists.”

Centric Owner, Kati Cooley. Photo courtesy of Centric Creative Consulting.

Centric Owner, Kati Cooley. Photo courtesy of Centric Creative Consulting.

Consumers now want to understand the person behind the business and feel like they are supporting the business owner as an individual, Cooley explained. The emotional connection your brand creates to potential consumers, through effective storytelling, is instrumental to foster this interaction and add value for the brand to your clients.

A business’s brand (that emotional connection), identity (all of the visual aspects of the brand), and logo (the brand identity in its most simplistic form) also need to be consistent, Cooley explained. Ensuring this alignment creates a memorable product or service and gives a business an edge over the competition.

However, implementing all of these concepts to accurately convey the personality of a business is challenging. It’s easy for business owners to get overwhelmed in this process and not have the expertise or adequate time to devote to brand development, in addition to actually running the business. With all the marketing options out there, it’s also not difficult to get inundated with information and fail to land on the best strategy to reach the target customer.

That’s where Centric Creative Consulting can help.

Cooley herself is a strong strategist and big picture thinker, with the keen ability to connect and communicate to drive brand and market strategy. Centric also partners with web developers, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers on individual projects to connect clients to the expertise they need to accurately develop and convey their brand messaging.

“It’s too hard when you’re in the middle of it,” Cooley explained.

Even with the re-branding of Centric, Cooley sought outside perspective to narrow in on the most important aspects of her business and why the business was important to her clients.

“When you’re in the thick of your business, you can’t do that objectively,” she said.

Centric, Cooley explained, can work with businesses during the entirety of their branding and marketing process as one central touchpoint.

Centric works with any type of business, large or small.

They also offer a wide range of flexibility in services, assisting companies at the inception of their business, at any stage during brand development and messaging, or even through a re-branding process. They can facilitate logo design, web development, social media strategy, customer engagement, and also serve in adaptable business consulting roles.

As an entrepreneur herself, Cooley enjoys creating and connecting with others.

“What really inspires me is I want to see people doing well for themselves. I want to see people living in their truth, doing what they love, and hopefully being successful at it. I don’t mean monetarily,” she explained. “But at the end of the day, if I can go to bed knowing I did my best for my clients, to me that’s a success.”

Want to better understand how Centric can help your business? Click the button below to connect.

Gender Communication Differences: What Can We Learn?

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While most of us have observed communication differences between men and women, these discrepancies are also well documented by psychological and scientific research. This article is not meant to separate genders into strict communication buckets. And it’s certainly not meant to encourage readers to change their own behavior. Instead, this piece is meant to open up the dialogue about different communication styles to help us better recognize patterns within ourselves and to enhance our interactions with others in both our personal and professional lives.

Improved communication, or an elevated understanding of divergent communication methods, can help to manage confrontation, aid in conflict resolution, relieve stress and anxiety, build stronger relationships, and meet our needs as humans for social interactions. Strong communication skills can facilitate goal achievement and improve job performance, especially in customer service and management positions.

Research shows that men and women are more likely to exhibit different styles of verbal communication. Men are more prone to adopt what is called “report talk,” while women gravitate more toward “rapport talk.”

“Report” style of communication is driven by the exchange of factual information to solve a given problem. This type of communication is direct and typically does not include any personal anecdotes or stories, with limited emotional connotation. This type of communication is aimed at building relationships based on solving that task at hand. “Report” communication users typically tend to dominate the conversation and speak for longer periods of time than other types of communicators.

“Rapport” communication, on the other hand, is aimed at building relationships and problem solving with the aid of those relationships. This style of communication includes more listening than “report” communication and involves the inclusion of more personal feelings and past experiences to solve tasks. “Rapport” communicators tend to problem solve as they are speaking and are more concerned with everyone equally contributing to the conversation. 

When speaking, women typically utilize a wider range of pitch and tonal variations compared to men, incorporating five tones into their voice versus the three tones expressed by men. This increased variation may underlie the stereotype that women tend to be more emotional speakers than men. 

Non-verbal signals are also important contributors to communication. Similar to divergent verbal communication styles, men and women tend to gravitate toward different methods in this type of communication. 

In general, women tend to condense their bodies into as compact a space as possible. This involves tucking in elbows, crossing legs, and keeping any materials in stacked piles. Women also tend to display more animated facial expressions, smile more, and make more eye contact than men. Men, on the other hand, tend to expand more than women into physical space and normally resume a more relaxed body posture. 

Again, these data are generalized statements and are not meant to convey that all men fit into one type of communication category and all women into another category. This is also not meant to position one style of communication as superior to the other. This discussion, instead, is just meant to describe two very general forms of communication so we can recognize them with the goal to improve our own communication and relationship building skills. 

However, we can all set ourselves up to be better communicators in the workplace if we practice something called executive presence. You don’t have to be a CEO to implement this style of communication. Instead, executive presence just involves exhibiting confidence, communicating clearly and efficiently, and reading an audience or situation effectively. Executive presence includes eliminating behavior like questioning ourselves as we speak, laughing nervously while talking, overly apologizing, storytelling in excess, and being extremely deferential. Instead, executive presence involves listening, talking efficiently to forward the conversation, speaking firmly, and standing/sitting tall.

Highly important to executive presence is a skill set called emotional intelligence (or EI). EI is a concept pioneered in 1990 by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey. This behavior involves high levels of self-awareness, including the ability to perceive, understand, and interpret emotional information.

EI is useful for relationship building; highly effective leaders also typically have elevated levels of EI. 

Overall, neither gender appears to have an advantage over the other in the ability to practice or develop EI. Some studies suggest that women might be slightly better than men at displaying emotional empathy, one aspect of EI.

EI has even been observed in chimps. While in this case, female chimps tended to exhibit higher levels of empathy than males when interacting with other chimps. However, alpha males, the troupe leaders, generally displayed higher levels of empathy than even the females.

Want to learn more about differences in gender communication? Take a dive into the references below and join us tonight for a roundtable discussion at Little Thistle Brewing around this topic.

 

References:

1.     Capita3 materials and verbal communication. 2018.

2.     Kinsey Goman, Carol. “Is Your Communication Style Dictated by Your Gender?” Forbes. N.p., 31 May 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

3.     Nelson, Audrey. “Gender Communication: It’s Complicated.” Psychology Today. N.p., 24 June 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

4.     Graham, Debra. “Gender Styles in Communication.” University of Kentucky. 13 Sept. 2018.

5.     Mohindra, Vinita and Samina Azhar. (2012). Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Appraoches of Men and Women at Workplaces. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. 2(1), 18-27.

6.     Goleman, Dan. “Are Women More Emotionally Intelligent Than Men?” Psychology Today. N.p., 29 April 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2018.

7.     Barisco, Justin. “You Need to Learn How to Make Emotions Work for You, Instead of Against You. Here’s the Proof.” Inc. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

8.     Meshkat, Maryam and Reza Nejati. (2017). Does Emotional Intelligence Depend on Gender? A Study on Undergraduate English Majors of Three Iranian Universities. SAGE Open. July-September. 1-8.

9.     Lipman, Victor. “New Study Shows Women Consistently Outperform Men in Emotional Intelligence.” Forbes. N.p., 11 May 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

10.  “Gender Issues: Communication Differences in Interpersonal Relationships.” The Ohio State University. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

Press Release: Local Veteran, Mother, and Entrepreneur Makes Dream a Reality

Busy Baby LLC owner, Beth Fynbo. Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Busy Baby LLC owner, Beth Fynbo. Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Local mother Beth Fynbo possesses many attributes necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. With a military background, a degree in business management, and unstoppable determination, Fynbo always knew she wanted to run her own business someday. Yet it wasn’t until last year that her skills aligned with a passion and her entrepreneurship began. 

Shortly after the birth of her child, Fynbo dined out with friends and their children. The continuous dropping of toys and food was a distraction to the conversation.

“That night I scoured the internet looking for something I could buy to keep my baby busy in the restaurant when we go out to eat,” said Fynbo, creator of Busy Baby Mat. “I couldn’t find it, so I created it!” 

Resourceful Fynbo took to making her first mat with household items and soon learned it was well worth pursuing. The now professionally produced prototype is a silicone mat with suction cups underneath and a proprietary tether system for attaching toys. The mat rolls up for easy transport and when used also provides a clean, germ-free surface for the child. 

Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

After market testing, it is clear the Busy Baby Mat is an answer to many meal-time issues.

“I had the opportunity to try the Busy Baby Mat with my 10 month old daughter, and it made for a relaxing family outing,” said Missy Johnson, product tester. “The tethers did a great job keeping her favorite toys within her reach and off the floor. With food and toys front and center, she was content and allowed Mom and Dad to enjoy more conversation.” 

A Kickstarter campaign launched on Saturday, September 1st to make this dream a reality. Reaching a goal of 3,000 preorders positions this product to move on to manufacturing allowing the Busy Baby Mat to hit shelves by the early 2019. Visit www.busybabymat.com and follow Busy Baby on Facebook to learn more and support this local entrepreneur’s dream. 

ABOUT BUSY BABY MAT

Busy Baby Mat, LLC is a product development company finding solutions to keep baby busy. Founded by Beth Fynbo in 2017, the company’s first product Busy Baby Mat will launch upon completion of a successful funding campaign. 

Rochester's Newest Taproom, Little Thistle Brewing, Opens Today

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Steve and Dawn Finnie have been crafting unique microbrews for the past decade. Now, the husband and wife team are set to open their own family-run taproom, Little Thistle Brewing, bringing a distinctive, modern feel and approachable beer menu to this city.

For Finnie, brewing began as a hobby. After getting introduced to the craft from a friend, he began creating experimental batches for others to enjoy while gathering at the Finnies’ home.

“We would just have people come to our house and make beer. We’d have parties and it was great to meet people from all over the world,” he explained. “And then we just kept doing that and then I think the hobby got a bit more serious.”

The brewing evolved onto such a scale that Finnie created a beer club, where friends would pay him $100 a year to help cover the cost of raw ingredients, allowing him to create even more beers. Many of these creations inspired the brews currently housed in Little Thistle’s 10-barrel (or 310 gallon) brewing system.

Little Thistle Brewing- named in homage to the national flower of Finnie’s native Scotland- is not the couple’s first professional brewing endeavor. A few years ago, Finnie, a trained physical therapist, left a fifteen-year career at Mayo Clinic to help create another brewery in Rochester. Finnie exited that business about two years ago.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity. We did it and we showed that we could brew beer,” he explained. “Now, this is exactly what we’ve wanted to do.”

Even before opening that first brewery, Finnie was crafting a business plan to create something as small as a nanobrewery, Dawn explained. Today, the Finnies’ vision is finally coming to fruition as they open the doors to Little Thistle.

While the process of launching the new brewery has been challenging, the largest hurdle, the Finnies explained, was finding a location for the business.

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“We would get in the car every night with the kids and drive around for months until we found something,” Finnie said.

The family traveled all over town knocking on doors to buildings, even buildings that were not for sale, Dawn joked, trying to find the ideal spot for their vision. The Finnies finally found the perfect location- a 5,000 square foot warehouse on two acres of land- in northwest Rochester nestled right next to the Douglas Trail.

Little Thistle Brewing is a taproom; no food will be served at the location without outside partnering.

“There is no confusion here. It’s all about beer, beer education, community, family, kids, dogs,” Finnie explained.

The taproom even has a motto: “Be humble, drink local.”

“We want [potential staff and employees] to work with us, not for us. And we really want to build that community from the ground up,” Dawn explained.

The business aims to appeal to everyone from the craft beer nerd to the light beer drinker.

“The beer is going to be the vehicle that brings people together. We want it to be unpretentious,” Dawn said.

Little Thistle will brew traditional beers, light lagers, experimental beers, barrel-aged beers, and cask ales, a traditional style beer in the United Kingdom with lower carbonation that’s served from a hand pump at a slightly warmer temperature. The brewery aims for quality versus quantity with the beers on tap, with most beers being served from more than one line to facilitate guest flow and enhance service at the bar area.

As the motto dictates, Little Thistle strives to support local businesses. The brewery looks forward to partnering with other Rochester establishments to provide different food options at the taproom. This “support local” approach extends to other breweries in the area as well, which Finnie does not view as competition.

“If someone goes to LTS or another brewery in town and they like the craft beer or never tried craft beer before, they are more likely to come to our place. …It just helps everyone,” he explained.

After years of working towards this point, Little Thistle Brewing is set to open up to the public for the first time today at noon. In the weeks leading up to this unveiling, the Finnies have alternated between excitement, sheer terror, and feeling like they’re just staying afloat.

“We’re on the final lap of this long marathon, I think,” Finnie laughed, “I’m just looking forward to being open and sitting on this deck and having a cold beer and watching people enjoy.”