Karina is one of our 20 Builders and is a business owner in Glenwood, Minnesota.

Name: Karina Mork

City/Town: Glenwood, Minnesota

Where else can we connect with you online?

Facebook: facebook.com/meco7mn
Twitter: @meco7mn
Instagram: @meco7
Website: www.MECO7.com

Who is your community?

My immediate community would be Glenwood, Minnesota, where I collaborate and work with a number of business owners and community members. Beyond that, I have a number of connections and individuals I hold near and dear within much of the OTA region including Sioux Falls, Milbank and even Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

What challenge in your life or work are you most interested in overcoming?

I currently own two stores here in Glenwood, and I want to open a third. I have a huge heart for this community and small town economic growth but my challenge is three-fold: 1. Business grows business. My retail stores would benefit from more stores in town, but efforts to bring in new business owners have not been successful (through my own efforts & through the city & chamber.) Which begs the question: how do we attract creatives or engage current ones in the region to enter the business/retail scene in our small town? 2. If we cannot attract other people to open stores themselves, how do find and sustain employees within my own businesses to create a third, or even fourth store? 3. In the big picture, how can we as a community work with schools, colleges and other programs to develop and encourage individuals to enter the job world ready for ambiguity and a fierce passion for problem solving, rather than our current employee culture that demands simply “warm bodies”?

If you could do any job, what would you do and why?

I love what I do. I truly enjoy the creative outlet my stores provide for me, and if I could do more, I would like to have more time to attract and mentor other business owners, especially female owners. I think we face our own unique set of challenges and I have an insatiable desire to grow and give of myself to this community.

At what intersection do you live your life?

I live at the intersection of Learning to wait patiently and Running full steam ahead.

Where do you think good ideas come from?

Good ideas come from working together. As a sole business owner, it’s easy to feel like an island sometimes, but it is so key to have other like-minded individuals that you can go to for feedback and brainstorming. I can have a good idea and I bring it to another business owner and all of sudden it becomes great because we are going into it together and our pull is twice as strong. Community is built on collaboration.

What’s the best way to put inspiration into action?

Inspiration is put into action when it is shared and when it can empower others. It may start off looking like one thing and once that thought or idea is passed on, the final outcome can look so differently when individuals are able to take it and translate it into their own setting and solution. Again, it is all about collaboration.

What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?

On my 25th birthday, I was living in Sioux Falls and I decided that I was going to open a store, call it MECO7 and move to Glenwood to open it. At this time, I had never even been to Glenwood in my life and I had never painted a single piece of furniture (which was going to be one of my main offerings at the store.) This was inspired much in part by OTA and harnessing the desire to live a life of creativity and growth.

Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?

I want to leave a legacy for Glenwood by building it up as a community. I want to leave a legacy for the Eagle Butte community to have people understand that you don’t have to be bound by poverty or what you think you’ve been given. And I want to leave a legacy for the next generation, for my some-day children, that I can provide resources and outlets for them to have creative platforms. Let’s build our businesses with the Japanese culture of sustainability with 100 year business plans. Let’s grow a community that becomes a hub for problem solving and empowerment. I want outsiders to look at the OTA region for inspiration, rather than believing the coasts are the sole place for development.

The OTA Builders are a group of individuals who thrive on possibility and use all opportunities they are given to grow both in their careers and in their passions. We seek creatives who are tenacious and strong-willed movers and doers and are driven to make a significant impact on the people around them and the community they call home. These people recognize their talents and capabilities and find ways to continuously grow and learn from them. Why is this you?

My heart swells in my chest reading this; this is what I was made for.

I know that five years ago, I sat in the audience at my first OTA event when I was working as a glorified receptionist at a marketing firm. Since then, I have opened my own business, bought a framing business, bought a Scandinavian shop and expanded my store to also include a painting studio. I don’t say this to brag but rather to show how creativity and empowerment impacts people. One of the books that has become my business bible, The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, came from an OTA event. I know how much I have grown through the OTA community and I want to invest and give back that much more.

I have also been given an amazing opportunity to learn and develop my own retail store, but to also buy two already established businesses. This would have never happened had I not gone out looking and been blessed by the years each of the previous owners had put in. But I don’t want to be about me. I want to know how can I bless others through this.

What would it look like if I started and gave off portions of my businesses to other hungry entrepreneurs who would otherwise not have the opportunity? And better yet, how do I find them? How can I connect and work with people within Glenwood and throughout the region to build awareness and grow everyone by collaborating together? What can I do to build up the next round of leaders and creative thinkers? How do we work with schools and high education to encourage students to work with ambiguity and thrive within it; to question the status quo. And how do we attract, keep and fulfill the individuals with these qualities within our own small communities? How do we as a community, as entrepreneurs, tackle the challenge of work and family? How does this specifically impact women and the way we approach maternity and raising children and leaning in to our creative careers? How do we as a community look outward to empower others?

I am the retail business owner that does custom framing, custom furniture painting, builds websites on the side for other small businesses and has even been known to design wedding invitations for the bride that couldn’t find a designer in the area to create what she needed. And did I mention this is all what I did last week? I am a mover and shaker, a vehicle of change and growth. I want to grow people and build them up. I want to make my town, my region better, more sustained and further developed with what I have.

Really, the better question is, how is this not me?

What project will you focus on as part of the OTA Builders Program?

Entrepreneurship development. How do we attract new businesses and entrepreneurs to our area? What role do I play in this, and how can I assist them?

I want to help connect the right people to each other so that a ripple effect takes place in growing to building everyone.