Owner, Ginger Leaf Garden
Years of service: 12 and still counting
Branch: North Dakota Army National Guard
Cassandra Mosbrucker grew up in Mandan, ND, where she currently resides. She is the Owner of Ginger Leaf Garden, a (currently) part-time entrepreneurial pursuit for Mosbrucker in which she offers starter plants, jams, sauces, pickles, salsas and gift baskets.
“My love for gardening came to me at a young age. I spent every spring planting the flower bed with my mom. This is where I fell in love with gardening. Every spring, we would go to all the local greenhouses in search of new flowers to fill our wrap-around flower bed and many flowerpots. The moment I step into a greenhouse I step into my happy place.”
Growing up, Mosbrucker also spent time gardening with her grandparents who had a large garden just outside of Mandan.
“My grandma always let me experiment with seeds at her house. I would save different vegetable and fruit seeds to plant. I grew a couple of cherry trees from seed. Those took a few years until they were ready to plant outside by the garden. Unfortunately, our family no longer owns this property so I am not sure if the trees have made it this far. If they have, they would be around 15 years old.”
“Since I have been an adult in my own home, I have always had a garden. Every year it seems to grow a bit. Right now, my backyard garden has around 23 raised garden beds. It really feels like stepping into a fairytale mid-summer when everything is thriving. This summer I filled all the in-between spaces with wildflowers, and it was so beautiful. There were a couple weeks that there were constant Monarch butterflies in my garden pollinating flowers. I definitely “lost” myself in the garden for quite a few hours while this was going on. Someday I am hoping to move onto a bigger property and expand with a high tunnel and multiple outdoor garden spaces.”
What does your business do?
This first year our business has been finding its groove. All year round, we have offered canned goods for sale, many of which are seasonal products based on the current availability of fresh ingredients. We currently operate under cottage food laws sol physically must sell my homemade goods to customers. Currently, our home is in Mandan, ND. Sales can be arranged at any time for pick-up or delivery. I frequently make trips to the Fargo area, at a minimum, once or twice a month. Our farmer’s market season has now come to an end for the year, but we can often be found selling at a farmers’ market in the Bismarck/Mandan area once a week. In addition to our canned goods, you will find us with a large supply of vegetable starter plants in the spring as well as a variety of garden-themed gift baskets for sale throughout the year. The best place to stay up-to-date with our current services and products is our Facebook page.
What was your first job once you finished your service?
I haven’t quite finished my service yet. I am still a member of the ND Army National Guard and work full-time with them as a federal technician in our Intelligence and Security Office. However, up until l started my own business this past spring, I also worked part-time for a company called HIT Inc. I worked in a group home as a Direct Support Professional caring for developmentally disabled individuals. I started this job after I came home from initial entry training in 2011 and continued to hold the position as a part-time employee while I transitioned into full-time work with the national guard. I worked for the company for over 10 years and am truly thankful for the experience.
What led you to military service?
Honestly, my stubborn personality. In high school, I was a small, petite girl, and it was something most people would have never expected to do. I think I wanted to prove that I could do it and succeed. I also grew up in a family filled with military members, including my father. I think the thought of joining was always in the back of my mind.
Did you take advantage of military benefits when staring your business?
Yes, I have been working with the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) for the past couple of months. They have been really great at finding resources that are specifically helpful to my business. The connection to Fargo Inc! is one of the opportunities they have helped align. The services provided by the VBOC are completely free and I encourage other veterans to reach out for assistance with their businesses.
What skill that you learned in your military service do you use most in your business career?
Adaptability. Starting a business is a non-stop learning adventure Nothing ever seems to go quite as planned-that is something the military has helped me manage. When something doesn’t go as planned, I just have to adjust my course of action and try another way.
Would you have been able to start a business without your military experience why or why mot?
It is hard to say where my life would be if I had gone another route. I do think that my military experience has been a factor in my business success thus far this year. Starting a business is not easy nor did I expect it to be. There has been a huge learning curve just trying to understand the ins and outs of everything required to start a business legally. I am still learning every day This first year has brought a lot of late nights working, pouring my heart and soul into my business. I think that is something my military experience has taught me. When I do something, I am all in.
What words of encouragement do you have for a fellow veteran nervous about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship — or maybe a veteran who started a business and is struggling?
Know your resources and commit to continuing education. If you take the time to research, you will find so many different resources available to you. As I said earlier, the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) is a great resource but there are many other ones out there and they are often free. In addition to the VBOC, I also have taken advantage of some women’s benefits through the North Dakota Women’s Business Center (NDWBC).
Many veterans struggle with finding a sense of purpose when reintegrating into the civilian world. How can getting involved in the business community help with that reintegration process? Once you learn your resources, use them. Go to the free classes or events and meet people. This will help you get involved in the business community and build a network. Once you have a network you will be able to reach out for help or even provide help to others. I think as veterans that is something we need. We are so used to being surrounded by other service members and having that bond when we reintegrate into the civilian world, we need to find that same sense of support to be successful.
What are some things you would’ve done differently with your business career if given a second chance?
Not doing it sooner! I am just starting out so I don’t have anything big enough to wish I would have done it differently yet. I just wish I would have done it sooner. I have loved every minute of my business adventure so far, except for some of the late nights.