You could say this story about Linsey Prunty would surprise even Linsey herself.
The commitment and advocacy and love that enriches her life today was never part of the plan. It was unexpected and difficult and I imagine even scary at times, but today, I don’t think she’d have it any other way.
Linsey is a young, vibrant creative living in Pipestone, Minnesota. As an interior designer graduate, she had big dreams of big cities with big architecture firms and the like.
But then she married into farm life, and everything changed.
For the better.
“It really has impacted me a lot, in such a positive way.”
Moving to Pipestone gave Linsey an opportunity to get creative with opportunity and to really explore what made her happy. In doing so, she willingly began an investment with a stranger community she never thought she’d find herself in. But she was consumed, asking herself questions like, Who is this community? Where’s the heart beat? What’s possible here? And why does it all matter?
It matters to Linsey because this is home, and today, she is full of passion and pride and curiosity for a lifestyle and a community she’s still getting to know.
I hope they get to know her, too.
Linsey met her husband, Paul, in 2011, while they both were students at South Dakota State University. From the very beginning, he took her by surprise.
“The day he walked into my apartment and took off cowboy boots, I was like, this isn’t going to work!”
But it did. It worked so well that in 2013, she followed those cowboy boots to Pipestone, where Paul’s family has run a hog farm for multiple generations. He needed to move back to work on the farm, and Linsey needed to adjust.
“I had no interest in ranching or farming or cowboys and had never even been on a hog farm in my life,” Linsey says. “But it became a second love for me.”
She began to see and appreciate life in a new way, and that’s when her commitment to Pipestone began.
With a love for design still alive within her, Linsey first began seeking out work that could fulfill this passion. But it wasn’t easy.
“In order to be an interior designer in Pipestone, you have to be licensed or working under an architect,” Linsey explains. “But here, you don’t have that option.”
So she sought out the next best thing and began working for a local home decor and gift shop downtown. It was good for her to be around the customers and she enjoyed that first year but was still lacking a creative outlet.
She kept looking and began to find it through a local dance studio. Today, she still teaches ballet, jazz and hip-hop classes to students of all ages, and you can find her at the studio on Main Street at least a couple times a week.
“The studio has been a god send to me,” Linsey says. “These kids have really influenced me, and I’ve gotten to see so many different kinds of people in the community.”
And, her imagination is alive.
“I have so much freedom there to be creative, and the people I surround myself with there are so creative as well.”
The dance studio was a reminder of how important it is to feel energized and creative in your work, and she knew she needed to leave the gift shop.
“I was feeling boxed in a retail job, and even though I grew to love my coworkers and built relationships with customers, it got to a point where my husband said, ‘You have to stop this.’ ”
She quit three months ago, and that’s when her passion for creativity — and for Pipestone — really began.
From passion project to full-time work
For a long time now, Linsey has had a big interest in up-cycling and repurposing furniture. She dabbled in college then really began to envision this work when she came to Pipestone and had myriad pieces to work with off Paul’s family farm.
The small, rugged and agricultural town of Pipestone helped, too.
“It’s such a big thing right now to repurpose and make old things new again,” Linsey says. “People are really into that.”
The timing was right for her to take this work more seriously. So when she left the gift shop, she decided to open her own business. LC Design began last year.
“It’s been incredible,” she says. “I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner!”
Although Linsey is sole proprietor of LC Design, she and her husband share the work, and Paul is an incredible help at building, sewing and selling pieces right alongside his wife.
Because he wants to.
“My dream has evolved into his,” Linsey says. “He directs me, he’s my rock and has always supported the idea. He pushes me, and he keeps me in track.”
And surely, he has a little fun along the way.
“We dip our feet into everything!” Linsey says. They work with big industrial tables, old skid pallets and build lighting projects. They paint and carve wood, make wind turbine lights, chairs out of shovels, pillows and outside decor. Whatever idea strikes them, or whatever their customer wants.
“In a rural community, you really have to pay attention to what people are interested in,” Linsey says. “It’s crazy what people do with our work.”
And it’s crazy that they do all of this in their backyard or in their basement.
“We would love to have a brick and mortar store and get those questions all the time. ‘Do you have a store?’ Yes, in our basement!”
She does have her eye on a building in Pipestone that will go up for auction this fall. But for now, she and Paul don’t mind the dust flying late at night. It’s their work, together.
“You wouldn’t expect a farmer and an interior designer to work together and do what we do,” Linsey says. “But this has really evolved into us.”
Recognizing the needs of Pipestone
Linsey’s work at the dance studio and with LC Design has really immersed her into a quiet, intriguing community that she came to realize she didn’t know. As a transplant, nothing was familiar, and the only way she got to know Pipestone was through her own efforts.
“Not having a certain group of friends helped me to branch out and talk to different kinds of people,” Linsey says. She’s not afraid to ask questions, introduce herself or reinforce ideas.
She’s even admitted to sitting at the local cafe to eavesdrop on farmers’ conversations.
“I find them fascinating!”
But it’s because she’s curious, and it’s because she wants to be invested. Although she made not have had a choice to move to Pipestone, she did have a choice to make the best of it, and over the past three years, it’s exactly what she’s done.
Linsey’s attended Chamber events and city meetings all by herself, just to listen, and just to learn. And do you know what she sees?
“There is an extreme disconnect between the older and the younger generation,” Linsey says. “And they are too scared to come together and talk about it. I know it’s daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.”
As a 26-year-old transplant, she sees and can feel the lack of a younger generation in Pipestone. “And it’s because they are leaving. They don’t feel like there are as many opportunities or options for them to succeed.”
And she knows that’s just not true.
She’s only been in Pipestone for three years, and already, she believes so strongly in the possibility of what this community can be for so many, if they only give it a chance.
“I want kids to see that they can come back here. You just have to come back to these places and make things happen for yourself!”
Just like she did.
“Being the outsider, a small business owner and young in an older community, I get to see all the different perspectives in a different light than someone who’s been here their whole lives,” Linsey says. “And I just want us to talk more!”
She envisions improved networking in a small community, stronger support among local businesses and perhaps mentorship opportunities between generations.
“If people in our own community who have worked to the top in businesses or started their own business show kids that success is a real thing in Pipestone, kids will begin to see it as an option,” Linsey says. “It bothers me that people look at Pipestone as a terrible place.
“Pipestone can be a possibility!”
Just like it has been for Linsey — and it’s because she welcomed Pipestone in. With the same love and appreciation that Paul has for Linsey’s work, she opened her heart to his farm, his family and his community.
They have an incredible respect for one another’s livelihood.
And even though all of this may not have been part of the plan, it was exactly what Linsey needed to feel right at home.
She needed to give herself — and her community — hope.
“I don’t want to change Pipestone, I just want to influence it,” Linsey says. “There is good out there in our community. We just need to realize it and open up to it and want to embrace what is here and what could be.”
If only they could see what she sees — with her youthful heart and zest for life — perhaps they will.
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