Posts Tagged: Sum of Your Business

Read the Winter 2017-18 Inspire(d) Online!

Here’s what’s happening in the Winter 2017-2018 Inspire(d):

Learn to be Koselig This Winter! Stay cozy tips • Norwegian Best Cake recipe • local author interviews • Driftless outdoor fun • Justin Trails • EARL mass transit • & more!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

My goal with this Inspire(d) is that you feel like you’re sitting down for a cup of coffee with a good friend.

There’s fun conversation, tasty food, and warm fuzzy feelings. In other words, it’s totally koselig.

We said that phrase a lot over the last month here at Inspire(d) HQ. “Oh, there’s a fire in the wood stove! Koselig!” “Smell that cake baking? It’s so koselig!” “Yes, you should light another candle. It will make it even more koselig!”

Koselig (“koos-uh-lee”) is a Norwegian word that loosely translates to cozy. It’s a bit more than that, though, and Sara Friedl Putnam explains it for us, with help from the folks at Vesterheim Museum (they’ve got a koselig exhibit this winter!). Basically, cultivating a koselig lifestyle means seizing any moment that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling – even if you’re heading outside! The koselig fun begins on page 14, and it for sure doesn’t end there. We’ve got an infographic (pg. 23) filled with ideas for getting koselig, so you THRIVE this winter (instead of just survive). We also test drove a recipe for what Norwegian’s call the World’s Best Cake (verden’s beste kake). It was fun to bake…and eat (pg. 26)!

Speaking of cake, make sure to put CAKE BREAK at Vesterheim on your calendar: 3:30 every Wednesday from December-mid April. Yep.

Oh, and again, speaking of cake (yes!), the recipe for that chocolate cake on the cover can be found right here. It’s our go-to birthday cake.

All right. Moving on from cake (fine). Next up: Books! More specifically, local books. We caught up with three folks entrenched in that scene for some fun Q&As: Wisconsin author Kathleen Ernst; Decorah’s own Keith Lesmeister; and Steve Semken, founder of Iowa-based Ice Cube Press. The interviews start on page 32 – check them out, then consider checking out their books for great winter reading.

Next, grab a glue stick because it’s time to make a smiling sun bookmark (pg. 47) to brighten these dark winter days (tutorial here!).

As mentioned, koselig doesn’t mean you just stay inside…you’ve got to get out for fresh air, exercise, and fun, too! Remember: There’s no bad weather, just bad gear! We put together a list of outdoor activities to get you motivated and out the door (pg. 48).

Our Sum of Your Business follows that thought. Justin Trails Resort near Sparta, Wisconsin, loves winter fun. They’ve got snowshoeing, cross country skiing, a sweet snow tube hill, and even rentals for skijoring! Donna Justin took time out of her busy schedule to share some of what she’s learned in the three decades she and her husband have run Justin Trails Resort (pg. 51).

Are bad roads/ your iced up car windows / snowed in driveway keeping you from getting out? Well, you’re in luck! Kristine Jepsen learns – and teaches us – how to ride EARL Public Transit here in Northeast Iowa. Spoiler alert: It’s super easy, and they take you right where you want to go (pg. 56).

We also chatted with recycling guru Terry Buenzow over at Winneshiek County Recycling to get the 411 on what’s recyclable, what’s not, and what we should do with those broken twinkly lights and holiday extras (pg. 64).

And finally, we’ve got yet another great probituary interview – Barb Welgos – to wrap things up (promise that’s not a holiday pun).

Read the whole thing online here!

Keep it koselig this winter, friends. It’s time to thrive! Here’s to an amazing 2018. Let’s do this.

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

Sum of Your Business: Brittany Todd

Intro by Aryn Henning Nichols • Photos by Photography by Brittany

It’s lucky that Decorah photographer Brittany Todd “never gets sick of wedding cake.” Because in the nearly seven years she’s been running Photography by Brittany, she’s surely eaten a lot of it.

Of course, weddings aren’t the only moments Brittany’s team captures – there’s also engagements, families, graduating seniors, and a shoot option called… “All Up in Your Business,” where – you guessed it – Brittany photographs your business.

Business is something Brittany has learned a lot about over the years. What started out as a hobby post-graduation has turned into a real-life career, and now encompasses a team of seven photographers, two cinematographers, and one marketing/social media expert.

Plus, the 29-year-old mother of two busy boys offers photography classes to the public, is involved in the community, and manages to, somehow, cook actual vegetables for dinner (much to her boys chagrin). On top of all that, Brittany recently moved from a home office to a studio space in Downtown Decorah. (Update: AND now husband Nathan and Brittany have added the Decorah Sugar Bowl ice cream shop to their list of businesses!)

Surely more than once, this busy woman has been requested to, “Teach us your ways of life!”

“I try to do it all and not pull my hair out, but really I am better at styling the mess on my head to cover up the craziness behind the scenes,” she writes on brittanytodd.com. “The main focus of my career is to capture YOU. Whether you are short, tall, blonde, brunette, married, single or anything in between: be that. My goal is to have you trust that being YOU is what makes you beautiful.”

The result is lovely, saturated images that speak honestly of life, love, and…well, the pursuit of happiness. We were excited to feature Brittany as our Sum of Your Business for this inspiring women issue because she is just that: Inspiring! Read on to learn more about how she manages to have her cake…and eat it too (what, too much?!).

The Basics:
Name: Brittany Todd
Age: 29
Business: Photography by Brittany
Years in Business: June 26 this year will start year seven of weddings!

1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss?

After graduating from Luther College in January 2010, I was certain that my calling was in Residence Life. I went through a two-month marathon process of interviews with 15 different schools and became a finalist at two different colleges. We were certain we were moving to either Dubuque or Green Bay. In April, however, everything changed.  I was informed by both schools, within one hour of each other, that I was their runner up and therefore did not have a job. At all. Anywhere. As a couple, we decided to stay in Decorah for another year since we were getting married that July and at least had some connections to odd jobs while we waited for a full-time opportunity. During that waiting process my photo-shoots became more frequent and more substantial. I wasn’t just photographing my friends’ kids anymore; clients were actually hiring me to shoot their wedding day, and I was loving every second of it! In August 2011, our first son, Carter, was born, and we decided it would be much easier to raise a baby with a photography career than in a college dorm. I slowly stepped away from a career in Residence Life, to a newfound dream career in photography. Fast-forward to 2013, and shooting was officially something that paid the bills, supported my family, and gave me great joy on a daily basis. It was then that I became my own boss and officially launched Photography by Brittany… in an office next to our living room.

2. What’s the best thing about being your own boss?

There are countless perks! I get to travel throughout the United States doing what I love! I get to choose my own hours. Yes, sometimes this means I am the last one to leave downtown at 1 am, but it also means I can take a day off to celebrate my kids’ birthdays, go on a last-minute trip with my husband, or spend an entire day focusing on filling my own cup, whether that means a lunch date with a friend, yoga sculpt at Reefuel, shopping downtown Decorah, or binge watching online classes or even Netflix. I can dress up on days I am with clients and wear sweatpants and slippers on days in the studio. A major perk is that through this seven-year journey, my kids have been a part of almost every single work day in the office, whether that office was in our living room or downtown in the new studio. They have their moments, of course, but sometimes the brutal honesty of a three or five-year-old is exactly what I need when it comes to choosing a location, setting up a shoot or just choosing treats from Beyond the Bar or Java John’s Coffee House for a client meeting. I know not every profession allows the flexibility that mine does, but just think how much more productive everyone could be if they could work during their personal prime time hours (I am a night owl) and be with their family as much as possible?

3. How about the worst?

Some days this list seems longer than the previous one, but I promise the good always outweighs the bad! I am the HR department, secretary, coordinator, president, CEO, and maintenance crew all rolled into one person. There is no guaranteed salary. There are no work benefits. Nobody gives me health, dental, or life insurance. There are no paid vacation days, paid sick days or even a single moment of paid maternity leave. When I first started, I took on any shoot that would come my way, including a family shoot the day before I went into labor with Carter as well as a wedding 13 days after he was born. (That is a story for another time, but, in short, Carter did great. Pumping in the doorway of a boat bathroom? Not one of my favorite life moments. 😉 )

There is not anyone to celebrate successes with in person. Cake in the break room is just not as exciting when it is your own birthday and you are eating it alone. Do not get me wrong, I love my days alone when I can crank the music and sing aloud while I edit, but there are many days when I wish there was someone here to celebrate with during the successes, and someone here to always get input from.

4. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it?

Not a specific hurdle, but there are definitely days and sometimes weeks that I stare at my work and think that I will never be as good others already are. If you think Pinterest is hard from a parent or teacher perspective, try looking at it through the eyes of a photographer (or a photographer mother!). Pinterest is amazing, and Pinterest is awful. I often remind myself that if I didn’t think there was someone better than me, I wouldn’t have anything to strive towards. The moments I doubt myself are the moments that make me a better photographer, business owner, and family member.

5. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to?

I highly recommend everyone start following Jeremy Cowart on Facebook, Instagram, or any other way possible. If you haven’t heard of “The Purpose Hotel” look it up! Jeremy is taking his talents of photography and expanding them into a vision that will help MANY people for decades, if not centuries, to come. His ability to run a business, expand the business and yet keep his wife and family as his number ONE priority is not only inspiring, but something we should all strive toward daily.

6. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

Dear High School and College Self:

Your grades matter in order to keep your scholarships, but then they will be irrelevant. Stop writing down every single word that goes on the board and take a moment to truly LISTEN to those teaching. Social networking is everything. Relationships are going to build a business faster than money can buy one. Equipment is important, but without a solid work ethic, support from those closest to you, and an incredible client base, you will not be successful. That family and friend-base you have now? They’re going to support you every step of the way. Keep being kind to those around you, because those professors, classmates, mentors, friends, and acquaintances are all going to be clients of yours someday. Each will leave a photo session with a part of your heart, and give you a little more sense of self-worth.

7. How do you manage your life/work balance? You worked out of your house originally, and have recently moved to a space in downtown Decorah – what are the pros and cons to the move?

Working from home was fantastic. If you ever get the opportunity to do so I highly recommend it, even if it is just for a few weeks. While having a home office I would do laundry, make lunches, start dinner, vacuum, grocery shop, and play with my kids in between checking emails, editing, making phone calls, and creating online albums for client review. When the workday was over, so were all of our daily life tasks. Having a space downtown has been quite an adjustment to that, but I love it in a completely different way. I get to see more people (especially more adults) on a daily basis. I can still take my kids to the library as I used to, but when we return to the studio downtown I immediately have a sense to work, instead of picking up around the house. Although it is tempting to respond to an email as soon as I see that it has been sent, it is much easier to leave work at work, and be home when I am at home (check out Peter Awad’s “Slow Hustle” podcast for more on that concept!).

8. What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going?

It is a hard concept to perfect at first, but I have gotten better about telling myself that I cannot serve others if my own cup is empty. Giving myself an opportunity to remember that I will be successful today, in this moment, could be as simple as a 15 minute break with Pinterest or an hour long Skype chat with a friend to collaborate on fresh ideas. Occasionally, I feel like these activities put me further behind in my to do list, so I remind myself that if I do not take time to enjoy life, my family, and my friends, there is no purpose to my career. Yes, we need money to pay bills, but if we are not enjoying life as it happens, we are guaranteeing ourselves missed memories. I would be a hypocrite if I encouraged others to prioritize their memories, if I, myself, was not creating any. Because of this, my job inspires me during every shoot. Every client has chosen me over any other photographer to capture one of their most important moments in life. These occasions may be as extravagant as a wedding day or as simple as an annual family session, but to my clients, and to me, it is so much more than just a shoot. You never know when a session is going to be your last as a family, exactly are you as you are right now, so embrace the NOW! There is no greater inspiration than to know that this gift I have been given (and am constantly trying to perfect) is something that positively impacts those around me, with the simple click of a button.

Sum of Your Business: Sno Pac

SnoPacPeas

Sum of Your Business: Sno Pac Foods / Pete Gengler, President
Interview and introduction by Benji Nichols • Originally published in the Summer 2016 Inspire(d)

SnoPacLogoThe Sno Pac brand of frozen fruits and vegetables is well known here in the Driftless Region. Maybe you’ve made a trek to the Sno Pac factory to stock up on bulk frozen favorites. Or you know a local farmer who has grown organic vegetables for the Caledonia, Minnesota-based business. Or perhaps you’re just familiar with the little rectangular bags of frozen goodness stocked up at your local grocery store or co-op. But what you may not realize is that the owners, the Genglers – four generations of them, in fact ­– have always been steadfast in their support of good, organic food. That’s right: Sno Pac was “organic (even) before organic was cool!”

SnoPacPackagingAround 1900, Sno Pac started as a lumber and ice harvesting operation. It eventually transitioned to become one of the region’s first refrigerated locker plants, where local folks could rent one of 1,000 freezer spaces to store their food. It was here that Leonard Gengler started raising and processing berries and vegetables to be frozen for sale. From the beginning, Gengler found that his produce tasted best when farmed without commercial chemicals and he embraced sustainable land use, rotation of crops, and soil conservation practices. These values and practices have helped to set Sno Pac products apart, even as organic agriculture has grown by leaps and bounds in the recent years.

Sno Pac now farms over 3,000 acres of their own produce, and also contracts with surrounding organic farmers for certain products. A very few limited items come from outside of the region, like blueberries from Michigan, or cranberries from northern Wisconsin.

Cool Sno Pac Facts:

• In the early Sno Pac days, people had to come directly to the plant in Caledonia to purchase frozen vegetables and fruits – in bulk – and you can still do that today, although bagged purchases are more the norm these days!

• At one time, Sno Pac also processed poultry, which was packed in shaved ice harvested from the Gengler Ice Pond, hence the ‘Sno Pac’ name.

• Through the mid 1900s the Genglers also ran a Land ‘o Lakes route all over the tri-state region. It was through this route that even more customers became aware of Sno Pac frozen products and the quality that they represented.

GenglersWith the Sno Pac business having been handed down the Gengler line – from founder Leonard, to Ray and Darlene, and now to company President Pete and Vice President Nick – it is safe to say this local processor will continue producing quality frozen organic vegetables and fruits whether its “cool” or not!

Sno Pac President Pete Gengler (pictured above at right – left is Pete’s dad, Ray) was kind enough to sit down with us for a few minutes at the modern packaging facility in Caledonia, Minnesota to tell us what has made this multi-generational business work.

Name: Pete Gengler, Sno Pac Foods President
Age: Sno Pac is – give or take – eight decades old!
Business: Fourth Generation Organic Fruit and Vegetable Processor

Tell us about the “leap” Moment. How did you get your start?

All I ever wanted to do was to work in the business. I grew up riding the Land o’ Lakes route with my Dad, and was probably in the fifth grade when I started picking strawberries for my Grandpa. It was an easy decision to continue working in the business.

What’s the best thing about being the boss?

I like to make things happen – and you have to! Seeing the success, and also the challenges, of the organic market.

OrganicBeforeOrganicCoolHow about the worst?

24/7 Responsibility. The financials, weather, finding good help – the same things that everybody deals with.

Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it?

Certainly there have been times when things haven’t been as good as others, or as much money at the moment, maybe you didn’t pay yourself, or you work so much other parts of your life suffer. But you just have to see the light at the end of the tunnel and do what you have to do.

Any mentors or role models you have looked up to?

My Grandpa Leo – he was the modern start of the company, and my dad, Ray. My mom was also in the offices for years. It’s a family operation.

What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

If you get too busy on the day to day you never make time for tomorrow. Someone once told me that, “Most people are too busy working to make any money.” I kind of like that saying.

How do you manage your life/work balance?

In the past it’s been hard to manage – it can be tough in a family business – seven days a week, 20 hours a day during the season, but you make time when you can.

What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going?

We’ve always had the idea that we’ll keep the family business going – pass it on to our kids and keep going. Some people thought Grandpa Leo was crazy following the Rodale organic methods back when, but he was really just ahead of his time. We plan to keep on providing the Midwest with what we do well, and we’ve embraced the slogan “organic before organic was cool”!