Minneapolis Illustrator, Invitation Designer, + DIYer Blog


Art, Inspiration, and Life. Sharing all the inspires me to create.

Posts tagged Entrepreneur
Monday Muse: Lani Basa

When I met Lani at Modern Well to interview her, it was like meeting a long lost friend. Not only was she warm and welcoming, but we both quickly learned we had spent the better part of our careers navigating the corporate side of Target. And, had probably crossed paths a time or two! Minneapolis is a small world like that. Lani is everything I expected and more. She’s driven by the desire to build up and support women. She gets her kicks out of learning what your goals are so she can help you achieve them. And she’ll give you the tools to make sure you do. This is the kind of culture she’s built in her consulting business as well as with The BWC. Read on to learn more about Lani and all the she does.

Let’s start at the beginning - What did you study in school and how did you get started in your career?

I studied Advertising/Marketing and after graduation was offered a job in NYC with McCann-Erickson but at the last minute decided to turn it down and stay in MN and see what I could find here. There was a management trainee job at Dayton’s that I went for, but didn’t get it, they felt I wasn’t ready. 6 months later, I got the job. I started on the training team and loved it. I then moved on to corporate and ended up being with Target for almost 22 years. I moved around a lot within Training, got to create a few of my own roles, and realized I was truly happy as an entrepreneur. Which was something Target couldn’t give me and I knew it was time to move on.

How did you end up co-founding the BWC?

When I realized I wasn’t happy in my job at Target, I reached out to one of my mentors to get her advice. I was planning on starting my own consulting business and I wanted her to help mentor me and I could be her apprentice. She basically told me “you don’t need me”, you’ve got this. Then she called me back the next day and asked if I was really serious about starting my own company, because she had an idea. That idea was the BWC and she wanted me to do it with her. When we started out, I focused on all the operations pieces (content, format, memberships, etc) and spent my time getting the circles set up. Three years ago I bought her out and now own the business.

Tell us what the BWC is.

The Business Women’s Circle is a collective of women in business who come together to talk Business, Leadership, and Life (our three circles). Being a member of the BWC holds you accountable to your goals. It gives you a space to connect, learn, mentor, share, and grow. The BWC is made up of circles of 10-12 women from non competing industries who meet monthly for 10 months out of the year. The focus of these meetings is on business and personal development. A typical meeting involves group problem solving for a particular business challenge and a learning topic that that circle has agreed is what they want to learn.

What do you think makes the BWC so special (member engagement is high!)

I think it’s a combination of things. I meet with everyone interested in joining to make sure it’s a fit and they know what they are signing up for. They need to be open to learning, vulnerable, looking for growth. I have an amazing facilitator team that provides great structure and support while that pushing their circles to foster growth and development. And finally, I think by bringing women together, they can share and grow together. That support goes beyond the circle and into everyday life.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t care so much what others think

Rapid Fire Questions:

  • AM or PM person: AM

  • Introvert or extrovert: Introvert

  • Three words to describe you: Problem solver, empathetic, open

  • I feel empowered when: I am accepted for who I am

  • Current Favorite restaurant in Mpls: Young Joni

  • Favorite Quote: “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you Lani for taking the time to share your journey and the BCW with us. You can find our more about the BWC on their website.

Monday Muse: Rachel Seifert

Raise your hand if you’re glad it’s Fall. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE summer. But Fall. Fall is my season. Crisp days and cool nights. Routines that are back in place and schedules that are kept. It’s like a refresh. And what better way to kick of the fall season than a new Monday Muse? This week’s Monday Muse is Rachel Seifert of Rachabella Photography and The Merry Hour. I met Rachel at the very first Merry Hour event over 2 years ago. I had recently left my corporate job and wasn’t 100% sure what was next for me. So I took a leap of faith, did something completely out of my comfort zone, and I showed up to the Merry Hour Event. Rachel was taking head shots in between hosting the event and getting to know all the amazing women they had brought together. Rachel’s energy and passion for lifting others up is evident from the minute you meet her. She’s a connector and she thrives on helping others succeed. She’s not afraid of the struggles that come with running your own business. She tells it like it is and shares the good, bad, and ugly. So grab a cup of coffee and a donut and read on to get to know Rachel.

Let's start at the beginning - what did you want to be when you were younger and what did you study in school? Was photography always the goal?

I never wanted to be one thing when I grew up. I loved shoes. I was a gymnast who dreamt of the olympics. I loved art. I was always moving. I started college as a phycology major and quickly changed my focus to art. I focused on Graphic Design, Spanish, and of course Photography!

How did you start your business? Was it a side hustle at first or did you dive right in full time? How did you build up your portfolio and clientele?

I was always the one with a camera. First rocking the disposable cameras, the family video camera and then my dads 35mm film camera. I always enjoyed looking through old photos of my family and found my true love in the dark room developing black and white film through high school. It continued to be my side hustle while in college. My younger sister and family members were my photography muses. I photographed an intimate wedding in the summer of 2011 and it launched me into my future dreams of photographing full time. After 5 years of jumping from job to job-- corporate jobs to sales to special education assisting in the schools-- I took the leap 3.5 years ago and haven’t looked back since.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

CONNECT. Reach out to people. Ask questions and challenge yourself. Create, create, create. Failure is inevitable, but its the learning from the failure that will keep your business going. Trust that everyone had to start somewhere and that people are there to help and support you.

You're also the co-founder of the merry hour. You and Sara have created an amazing community with these events. How did the two of you come together on this and what are your future goals for it as it wraps up its 2nd year?

We met over the beautiful inter webs as Sara and I co-designed a dear friends book. We were thousands of miles apart and over email and some IG DM's she created the beautiful print graphics and I the photographs. It was pure destiny because we both didn't realize how badly we needed someone like each other in our lives. We wanted to feel a part of a community of other makers, creators, dreamers and doers and so out of selfishness we brought women together and made just that. As we approach the end of our 2nd year and almost 13 events later it has been incredible for us to reflect on how many women lives we have impacted by creating the Merry Hour and how much we have ahead for this community. Our goal is to keep reaching women and bringing them together in a space that they always feel welcome, can be their honest selves and can celebrate everything that they are up to.

You're a beacon of inspiration - challenging others to follow their dreams and not afraid of showing the struggles along the way to get there - what keeps you going at the end of the day? What brings you back for more?

I love adventure and I love connecting with people. My job has allowed me too do both and connect the two in ways that I never imagined. Working for myself and building a business off of my creative talents has been the most challenging yet rewarding experience of my life. There is power in acknowledging the good and the bad. Because running a business sure has thrown some major curveballs, but what really keeps me going at the end of the day is the fact that I get to serve so many incredible people in some of the most important and memorable days of their lives. Honesty is key and by keeping things real we can relate and can connect on a much deeper level. Also, knowing that because I work hard I get to create and experience more, adventure often and support my family is pretty badass. AND my family. My main motivator in all that I do. The reason I will keep pursuing what I love is so that I can in turn teach and lead as example for my son and those around me.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be? Would you change anything?

I would say worry less, you are a badass and you can do it, wayyyy more often. I wouldn't change a thing. I am a firm believer in learning from all experiences in life. Everything that I have done has made me into the woman, mama, wife, friend, creative, business owner, teacher and daughter that I am today--failures, accomplishments and all.

Rapid Fire:

  • Morning bird or night owl Neither. But good coffee gets me out of bed!

  • Mountains or beach vacation: Mountains. Always.

  • Favorite venue to photograph at: Paikka

  • Favorite donut: Good ole fashion cake donut with sprinkles

  • Go with the flow or control freak: Go with the flow

  • You've got one free hour to spend anyway you want - what do you do? Slow morning with coffee in the mountains with my husband Gary and son Griffin

Thanks for sharing your journey with us Rachel! You can find Rachel on Instagram at @rachabellaphotography and @themerryhour. And check out her website here.

Monday Muse: Carin Skowronsky

Are you a wine Lover? Always on the hunt for the next great wine experience? Or are you a newbie to wine and looking to learn more about it? This week’s Monday Muse is your gal! It’s Carin Skowronsky of Pairs Well With. She’s a food and wine pairing educator who’s taking her passion for travel and wine and making a career out of it. Carin is a bundle of positive energy and she brings all the passion and excitement to her events. If you’ve ever been to one of Carin’s events, you know what I’m talking about. She brings you along on an educational journey and shares in all your discoveries like they are her own. She’s knowledgeable but accessible, never lecturing or telling you what you should taste or like. She wants to share in your experience and make it enjoyable. So grab a cup of joe (or glass of wine, i mean it’s noon somewhere right?) and let’s get to know more about Carin.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Ummm....everything. First and foremost, I wanted to be a performer. Either a dancer, singer or actress. There was a brief stint where I wanted be to a magician too. I'm someone who still seeks out or creates magic in her everyday life.

What did you study in school?

I was a double major in Marketing and Merchandising. I'm fascinated by marketing and how an individual or company presents itself to the general consumer. I consider myself a creative business strategist, specifically with small and emerging brands and other entrepreneurs. My mind pretty much never shuts off. There are always ideas flowing. I find that to be a good thing.

You were a corporate girl - how did you get into wine?

My story of wine came about through travel. It all started when I took my sister on a birthday trip to Napa and Sonoma. That was my first wine trip and it was great. Then came Italy, France, Portugal....the list goes on and I've now been to over ten of the world's most notable wine regions and even some undiscovered ones, too. There's so much to learn, and I'm such a curious person. Each wine, vineyard, region and winemaker has a different story. You really feel lucky to be part of these works of art in a bottle. When did you know it was the right time to leave your job to start a new career? There was a point in my career where I was no longer inspired and, in fact, I was miserable. That's just not who I am. I needed to find passion again in my everyday life, so I walked into my job one day ( with no planning ahead), resigned, went and traveled the world for a year, did more wine study and really reengaged with The Universe in the biggest way possible. And now here I am, thriving everyday. Sometimes you really just need to trust yourself and take that leap.

Walk us through your day - I'm sure everyone is different - but what's the most common look like?

Each day starts with some sort of goodness: a short mediation, a feel good podcast or a walk to set intentions for the day. While most people think I'm in wine full time, I have a day job that I love as much as I do working in the wine world. I sell a fitness brand called SPENGA and am on sales calls during standard working hours talking to people with the most fascinating stories who are ready to move into business ownership. My evenings are usually filled with client wine meetings, blind taste study or wine dinners. There's usually some sort of wine work most nights, and sometimes it's a glass of the best bottle of whatever I've got in the house.

You get to travel a lot - what's been your favorite trip so far and why?

I've been to 34 countries now, 6 continents and quite a few states. I've seen a lot and have experienced a lot and I'm more than grateful for all of it. While it might sound lame, each piece of this travel fuels my soul in a different sort of way. I've gathered a lot of perspective from each step of my journey and let it shape me who I am today. I am ever evolving through my experiences and that, to me, is what it is all about. What advice would you give to someone looking to make a big career change? I would say if it's something you keep coming back to, keep thinking about, can't let go of, GO GET IT. You're always way more capable than you know, and when you pull the rug out from yourself, you're forced to think more creatively and even differently, putting you into a new space. I'm a big risk, big reward girl - in every aspect of my life. Lastly, you don't get a refund on the time you've spent waiting around contemplating. Seize that day, dream big and go get 'em!

What's the best advice you've gotten?

Easily stated, I'm a very driven person. My Dad always reminded me, "If you're always focused on getting to the top, you're not focused on enjoying where you are in the moment. You can't do both, and there's plenty of time to reach the top."

What would you tell your younger self?

Don't waste time and energy on people who don't want to invest in you as equally as you do them. You've got a life to be living, stop worrying about everyone else and do you.

Rapid Fire

  • Early riser or night owl: Early riser

  • Go to wine: Malbec

  • Planner or go with the flow kind of gal: Planner

  • Favorite wine region to visit: Mendoza (Argentina) or Maipo Valley (Chile)

  • Three words to describe you: Adventurous, creative and sensitive

  • If you could try ANY wine - what would it be? Gosh, anything I couldn't get my hands on day to day. Probably, something a few decades old or that's been in someone's cellar for years that I couldn't come close to affording. (Ha ha.)

Thanks Carin for sharing your journey with us! If you want to check out any of Carin’s events or have her host an event for you or your business, check her out on her website , instagram or facebook

Monday Muse: Lindsay Grabb, Up Yoga

It’s MondayMuse time. This week’s muse is none other than Lindsay Grabb, co-owner and co-founder of Up Yoga in South Minneapolis. Lindsay has created a vibrant, empowering community with Up Yoga, let’s learn a bit more about her.

When did you start yoga and what lead you to it?

My first Yoga class was prenatal yoga at Blooma in 2009. I first found Baptiste Power Yoga in 2011 and was drawn to the combination of strength and ease.  It connected with the runner in me and also provided ease which I needed as a new mom with a full time job.

What inspired you to leave your corporate job and start Up Yoga?

In 2013 I left Target Corp and moved to Singapore with my husband for a few years.  I loved the community  where I taught at yogamovement in Singapore. When we returned home I was inspired to open Up Yoga because I felt something missing in the Minneapolis yoga community.  There were amazing classes to take, but not the close family style community I’d felt at my trainings or in Singapore.

How did you go about building the amazing community that exists at Up Yoga?

Honestly, I welcome students like they are walking in to my home. That’s what Up Yoga is to me, and my teachers, and now to our students as well.  It’s home.  People want to be seen and feel accepted.  Everything we do from cleaning the floors, to developing teacher training programs is about community.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self that she is loved and that she belongs.  I would tell her she doesn’t have to try so hard, that she is everything and has everything she needs.

What is the most rewarding part of being a small business owner?

The most rewarding part of being a small business owner is creating something that makes a difference.  It is rewarding to see an idea of mine become real and see it impact others.  Also after a corporate job it is incredible the speed at which I can make things happen! 

What's the toughest?

The toughest part is that my personal life is wrapped up in the studio.  So when I make decisions for the business that others may not agree with, I often lose them from my entire life. It can be lonely at times.

Rapid Fire

  • Favorite Pose:  Handstand and Savasana

  • I feel empowered when: I’m in forward motion on an idea

  • Introvert or extrovert: Introvert with moments of extrovert

  • Favorite Quote:  We rise by lifting others

  • 3 words to describe you:  Strong, Resilient, Compassionate:

  • Thanks Lindsay! It was fun getting to know more about your journey. Check out Up Yoga if you’re in the Twin Cities. You won’t regret it.