Bobbi Hepper Olson, Hepper Olson Architects
There’s more behind the stones of the bank building in Buxton, ND, than one might think. Built in 1982, the building sat unused for nearly 30 years until Bobbi Hepper Olson, owner of Hepper Olson Architects, cast her vision for the old structure and created the nonprofit “Buxton in Bloom” to light up the community and save the deteriorating structure.
The renovated building now houses the history of the bank, the city, the high school, Traill County and more. The building is also home to Hepper Olson Architects, allowing their team to highlight the historic interior when visitors come to the space.
Bobbi specializes in historic architectural preservation projects, an interest that sparked early in her career as she researched and repaired old structures in downtown Grand Forks after the 1997 flood. “It’s fun to see how old buildings were constructed and how they failed.
You get to see what areas deteriorate quicker than others. It’s a good knowledge base for building better projects in the future,” she said.
She took a solo path to success in her career, and she credits several mentors she had along the way for supporting her. More recently, Bobbi has explored her curiosity about networking with like-minded business owners, especially women.
From Sole to Strength
Bobbi connected with the North Dakota Women’s Business Center where she met a network of women business owners sharing their goals, achievements and struggles in business ownership.
“This group helps me look at business differently,” she said. “I haven’t had negativism being a woman in my profession. But I have learned about the challenges other women face. Hearing those perspectives has helped me ensure I’m providing a positive work environment in my own business.”
Bobbi said the interactions and shared connections she’s made through the organization have also greatly increased her awareness and opened her eyes to how she can give back.
“There are a lot of creative, energetic and driven women out there. I love that the North Dakota Women’s Business Center gives us an avenue to join and strengthen each other,” she said. “And it’s not necessarily just women strengthening women, it’s women strengthening the people around them.”
The North Dakota Women’s Business Center is the leading voice, resource and partner for women business owners. Over the years that this publication has been in existence, their impact has been pallpable. We can’t tell you how many women business owners have told us about the impact that NDWBC has made in their lives. We can’t highlight all of those individuals, but we can highlight a few and you can find three below.
Veronica Michael, CEO Prairie Products
North Dakota’s rolling prairies and nutrient-rich soils are ripe for emerging agricultural markets. Prairie Products CEO Veronica Michael identified these strengths in the state as the perfect opportunity engage in the industrial hemp market.
Veronica believes hemp can transform our economy and world, and she kicked off her entrepreneurial journey to do just that by founding Prairie Products in 2018 with our team. The company produces high-quality, wholesale crude CBD oil. Prairie Products also offers toll and split processing, which allows hemp farmers an accessible way to outsource their hemp manufacturing.
“Using hemp to offer the world its healing benefits was an obvious fit, but my first interest in hemp was in extraction of the cannabinoids. I believe the future of hemp is in a dual variety that allows growers to market hemp for its grain, fiber and hurd,” Veronica explained. “Growing agricultural hemp in this way will allow our region to capitalize on agricultural acreage, growing conditions and harvesting.”
From Scared to Safety
Prior to Prairie Products, Veronica’s work focused on human development and management in higher education and a variety of nonprofits. The shift to entrepreneurship was a bold, daunting step, but Veronica forged her own path with support, resources and connections through the North Dakota Women’s Business Center.
She attended networking group meetups with other women business owners through the North Dakota Women’s Business Center. Veronica was the only person in her group without prior entrepreneurial experience. She recalls feeling initially scared and embarrassed about what she didn’t know as a new entrepreneur. The group helped her dissolve these feelings quickly, and Veronica said she felt welcomed and supported in working through the challenges that come with business ownership.
Networking with other women who could lend their own unique learned experiences offered Veronica a vastly different perspective in which to navigate her own journey. “I believe timing is everything. Prior to getting involved with the group, I was trying to simply keep my sanity,” she explained. “This experience introduced me to new concepts and new ideas. The North Dakota Women’s Business Center creates a space for entrepreneurs to learn, share and discuss the reality of working your tail off and how that impacts the rest of your life.”
Going through funding and revenue scenarios, navigating COVID-19, growing business relationships, it’s a lot—especially if you’re doing it alone. “Business is hard. Entrepreneurship is difficult. I was filled with isolation and doubt,” Veronica shared. “I didn’t just need an ‘atta girl,’ I needed to be real and vulnerable about these concerns in a confidential, safe space. I found that safety with the North Dakota Women’s Business Center.”
To learn more about Prairie Products, visit prairieproductsnd.com.
Dani Gilseth, Dori Walter & Aimee Hanson, Grateful Cratefulls
Helping people ‘brighten someone’s day.’ That’s the purpose behind Grateful Cratefulls, LLC, a gifting service started by Dani Gilseth, Dori Walter and Aimee Hanson in 2018.
“We’re here to send a hug through the mail or help people celebrate with a unique, thoughtful gift,” said Dani, co-founder of Grateful Cratefulls. It’s a deeply personal tie for this motherdaughter-aunt trio, who were inspired to create Grateful Cratefulls by the outpouring of love they witnessed when a family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Grateful Cratefulls went from an idea to reality in four short months. Once the business was up and running, Grateful Cratefulls grew rapidly, causing a relocation that tripled their space and allowed them to add full e-commerce and customized business gifting. Despite its larger space and big growth, they’ve kept their desire and motto consistent: keep it local and loveable. “We take special consideration in filling our crates with products made in the Midwest. New items must have the right look, feel and owners behind the business,” Dani said. “Supporting our North Dakota-owned business means you’re also supporting 40 other Midwest businesses that make the products featured in our crates.”
From Trio to Troupe
Immediately after launching their business, Dani, Dori and Aimee discovered the North Dakota Women’s Business Center. The trio found immense value in the opportunities to connect and learn from other women business owners.
“It’s a sense of comfort, knowing we have a group to trust. If we need advice or have an idea to bounce around, we have a group in our corner that is ready to listen and advise,”
Dani explained. Dani described the North Dakota Women’s Business Center as a platform for women-owned businesses that want to rise together and see each other succeed.
“We’re happy to have access to a network of fantastic business owners who shine and want you to shine, too,” she said.
For help with your business visit ndwbc.com or scan the QR code below.