Position/title: Founder/director of Inspire Innovation Lab, a nonprofit education center, and owner of the Nerd Nook, a store that sells gender-neutral, educational toys, brain games, fossils, etc.
Family: Husband, Derek; four children; one foster child; dog, birds, fish and cockroaches (in a tank, not in my cupboards)
Explain what you do:
At Inspire Lab, we provide creative learning experiences for teachers, students and the community. We have a focus in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), particularly where they all intersect. For teachers we provide professional development opportunities, classroom visits and connecting teachers to businesses. For students, we offer many classes and camps, and for the community we host or participate in many free events.
How long have you lived in Fargo-Moorhead?
I grew up here.
Is your business’ culture important? Why or why not?
Yes! I highly encourage everyone who is involved with the lab (and my store) to work on what they are passionate about. It is important to me to connect our volunteers and employees to areas they feel skilled or interested in, and then help to empower them to take it to the next level.
How does your business’ culture affect your customers?
People walk in and immediately feel like this is a fun, interesting and welcoming space. We’ve worked hard on the environment and what we do, and it shows on the faces of everyone there.
When seeking new employees, what is the selling point for your business?
That it’s fun and that their ideas are really important. I know that I am only one person, and the ideas of others around me are often better than my own. I want them to feel like they can and should contribute to what we’re doing.
What is your selling point for the community?
We are unique, creative and a place they can explore their own ideas safely. Also we are a place where they can come and learn hands-on and experience innovative ideas.
What book most closely reflects your business’ culture?
“Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss.
What challenges does your business face in creating culture and livability for its employees?
Currently we have some space issues. (We’ve grown by leaps and bounds!)
What’s one thing you think would make Fargo-Moorhead more livable?
Better weather and fewer mosquitoes.
How has culture and Fargo-Moorhead’s livability changed in your time in the community?
I think this area has always been extremely friendly and supportive. As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed there’s a lot of opportunities here for entrepreneurs. I think this has always been a good place to start a business, but over the past several years I think this is one area that has really grown and changed. The support and resources for startups is overwhelming!
Who would play you in a movie?
Mayim Bialik (Amy from “Big Bang Theory,” aka Blossom).
What’s one word that best describes you?
Depends who you ask. My daughter says “mom.” My husband says “pain in the arse.” My mom says “awesome.” Ignoring them, creative is what best describes me.
What does an ideal Saturday look like?
Drinking coffee in my pajamas on the couch with children and dogs all around.
Who’s your business mentor and why?
I actually have several. I have friends who own businesses and they all have different strengths so as I have questions I reach out to whomever I think can best help. I also have a board of directors at the lab who are all amazing people and are highly engaged in our work. They are the first ones I go to with any questions about the Inspire Innovation Lab.