Opportunity goes a long way, if you let it.
Surely, we can imagine or assume how our lives will look one, five or even 10 years from now. But if we open our hearts just a little bit more to possibility and fate and opportunity — well, then, that’s a whole different picture.
Just a few years ago, Karina Mork was a recent college graduate and living in Sioux Falls, working in marketing and sales. But passion was missing, so we would visit Aviena, a vintage shop downtown, for a dose of inspiration.
“Aviena was my release,” she says. “It was a fresh perspective and this breakaway.”
And it gave her just the courage she needed. That summer in 2012, she left her job and made the decision to start her own business. She wanted it to be something like Aviena, a unique furniture and gift shop of sorts.
“I’d never painted a piece of furniture in my life, but I knew I could do it.”
She also knew she had to leave Sioux Falls and find a new market — a new community to start fresh. Her mom lives in Minnesota, but choosing Glenwood still seemed impulsive.
“I have family around Glenwood, but I’d never even been in the town!”
No bother for Karina. She was on a mission.
She was going to open a furniture and design shop in Glenwood, Minnesota, and it would be called Meco7, “where modern meets eclectic.”
And that’s what opportunity looks like.
From one to three businesses within a year
Meco7 began in a whirwind, and the chaos hasn’t really slowed down since. But it’s just as Karina would like it.
Shortly after opening for business in the fall of 2012, a custom framing shop in the same building as Meco reached out Karina, asking if she would be willing to take over.
“He asked if I’d ever looked into doing any custom framing,” she remembers. “No! Who’s ever done custom framing? But I thought it could be interesting. And eight months after I opened Meco, I bought the framing business.”
And why stop there, right? That following November, a Scandinavian shop across the hall from Meco came to Karina. They were looking to retire, too.
“They just said, ‘We love what you’ve done with the framing business when you took that over. We were wondering if you’d want to take over Valley Troll as well?’ I thought, well, my mom is Norwegian and half Finnish, I do know the culture.”
Just like that?
“Yeah! Our businesses are so different, but they do work well together!”
As spontaneous as it seems to begin running three diverse businesses within a year, Karina relies on fate instead. Without her moving to town, the frame shop and Scandinavian shop would’ve closed down, leaving Glenwood with two less businesses to call their own.
“I think they were really saved for me!”
Waiting for Karina, to bring their little community to life.
‘My heart was just waiting to create!’
Before opening Meco7, Karina wouldn’t have considered herself the creative “maker and builder” she has become today.
“I was not creating before this,” she says. “The first piece of furniture I even painted was the afternoon after I quit my job in Sioux Falls to open this business.
“My heart was just waiting to create!”
It was only a matter of time.
“It really just came down to me wanting to develop whatever was inside of me and not having somebody else tell me it wasn’t acceptable,” Karina says. “I wanted to create because I knew I had good ideas. I knew I could do this well.”
Today, this work has become so much more than serving as the Minnesota business owner she never thought she’d be.
It’s about wanting to help people.
“I love this community,” she says. “I love what I can provide to my customers and that relationship that I’ve built with people over the years. It’s awesome that they can come in, and people trust me with their art or their furniture.
“I think it’s fantastic.”
Even though Karina has had a few employees in the past to help behind the counters, right now, it’s just her.
Karina and Meco7 and Valley Troll and the framing shop. All open for business. For Glenwood.
“I do it all. I’m here early, I’m here late, but it’s okay, because I love it,” as if to reassure herself. “This is not just me creating. It’s me being mindful of what my customers’ needs are, and to just build that relationship through trust is a beautiful thing.”
Connecting other creatives
Of course, this isn’t easy for Karina, but she is grateful nonetheless for the prosperity this has brought to her life. She’s alive with creativity and ideas, at last, and she wants the same for others in her community, too.
“I want to get creatives together and connect them and then ask ourselves, ‘What ways can we really develop other people, outside of ourselves?’ ”
For her, it’s about recognizing and seizing opportunity, the way her heart so candidly insisted upon back as a customer inside Aviena.
“I have these stores because other people built them and allowed me the opportunity to take them on. I want to do the same thing for others,” she says. “I want to be the one to say, ‘Yes! You can do this! You can do something more than what your current setting is!’ ”
And so she creates. For you and for her.
“I used to dread the slow season — after Christmas when January hits and it’s cold and customers don’t come by as much. But now, I’m at a point where the businesses have grown. Now, January is the time where I get to create. I get this time to step back, not from the store itself, but I get time to really sink my teeth into the new year and really develop new plans.
“And just develop myself.”
In doing so, she seeks out the ideas that were quiet within her for so long, and she celebrates. She celebrates the creative she’s allowed herself to become, the person she knew she could be all along.