U-Nique (September 2022)

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U-Nique SEPTEMBER 2022

Meet Rachel Skretvedt The driving force behind the park system redesigns for more than five years

Also Artist ME Fueller of Montevideo Sunburg Heritage Arts Initiative Fall into new fashion trends Podcaster Jenna Kutcher


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Contents

ON THE COVER

Rachel Skretvedt poses for a portrait in front of Destination Playground at Robbins Island, a project to which she dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours and oversaw from start to grand opening. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

U-Nique U-Nique is a publication of the West Central Tribune. PUBLISHER STEVE AMMERMANN ADVERTISING MANAGER CHRISTIE STEFFEL FEATURES & SECTIONS EDITOR KIT GRODE PAGE DESIGNER MOLLIE BURLINGAME ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES, QUESTIONS, COMMENTS AND STORY SUGGESTIONS: 320-235-1150 800-450-1150 csteffel@wctrib.com ATTN: U-Nique West Central Tribune PO Box 839, Willmar, MN 56201-0839

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Rachel Skretvedt dedicates hundreds of volunteer hours to Robbins Island Shelby Lindrud | West Central Tribune

Artist ME Fuller of Montevideo navigates new opportunities to create Shelby Lindrud | West Central Tribune

Sunburg Heritage Arts Initiative keeps traditional Norwegian crafts alive Shelby Lindrud | West Central Tribune

Willmar, Spicer boutiques stay on top of fall fashion trends Shelby Lindrud | West Central Tribune

Hermantown-based podcaster Jenna Kutcher forges ahead as an entrepreneur Brielle Bredsten | Duluth News Tribune


How mentoring

benefits mentors METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

Mentors tend to be unsung heroes. If asked to explain their success, many who have reached the pinnacle of their professions would cite the influence of a valuable mentor among the many factors that helped them achieve their goals. Mentoring is often discussed in terms that note its value to those being mentored, but mentors also gain much from the experience of helping the people they advise. That’s worth noting for successful individuals over 50 who are looking to make the most of their professional experience by giving back to others. Professionals thinking of becoming a mentor can consider the many ways the experience could be as beneficial for them as it is for the people they will help.

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Many mentors gain significant satisfaction from watching someone they helped advance through the professional ranks. Mentoring provides a sense of satisfaction.

An analysis by the human resources department at Sun Microsystems found that mentees are promoted five times more often than colleagues who do not have mentors. Many mentors gain significant satisfaction from watching someone they helped advance through the professional ranks.

Mentoring is effective.

Professionals over 50 who are hesitant to become a mentor because they suspect it might not be effective can rest easy knowing that it has a profound and positive impact on mentees. According to a recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey, nine in 10 workers who have a mentor reported being satisfied with their jobs. In fact, 57% of such individuals reported being “very satisfied.” The

percentage of individuals without a mentor who report being satisfied or very satisfied is significantly lower. The implication of that disparity is significant, suggesting that mentoring has a very real and positive effect on mentees. Professionals on the fence about mentoring due to doubts about its efficacy can rest easy knowing that it is highly beneficial to young workers.

Mentoring helps a diverse group of professionals.

Professionals hoping for more diversity and inclusion in the workforce should know that workers in groups that have historically been adversely affected by a lack of diversity are more likely to have mentors. For example, data from the CNBC survey indicates that women are more likely than men to have a mentor, while members of

WE ARE HERE

various minority groups, including Hispanics and African Americans, are more likely to have mentors than whites. Prospective mentors who want to create a more inclusive workplace can utilize mentoring as a tool to help various minority groups further their careers.

Mentoring can benefit your bottom line.

Mentors typically pursue mentoring to give back. However, becoming a mentor can benefit your bottom line. The Sun Microsystems analysis found that 28% of managers who took on the role of mentor received a raise, while just 5% of those who did not mentor anyone received a bump in pay. Mentoring can help young professionals in myriad ways. But experienced professionals also benefit in some surprising ways from advising younger colleagues.

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Joy in service

Skretvedt leads the way on Robbins Island

beautification projects BY SHELBY LINDRUD | WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE

Rachel Skretvedt has dedicated hundreds of hours to the Willmar park system, helping bring the Robbins Island Destination Playground to fruition, among other successful projects at Robbins Island Regional Park. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Chances are if there has been a major project at Willmar’s Robbins Island Regional Park in the last decade, Rachel Skretvedt has probably been involved. She served on the Willmar Community Education and Recreation advisory board for many years and was a lead member of both the Destination Playground and local option sales tax project committees. It is all connected to her drive to serve her community. “For me it is a sense of purpose, to give back,” Skredtvedt said. As a child in Crookston, Skretvedt would volunteer with her church, help with swim club fundraisers and take part in projects put on by the Leo Club at her school. She would also assist with projects her father, a banker with Bremer Bank and her mother, an elementary school teacher, were involved in. While doing those projects, such as helping sandbag during the 1997 floods, she saw the positive impact community service could have.

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“That is what community service is. would eventually put into practice She said one of the most important You are there for a common goal and when she, her husband and young things the board did was get the city working toward something together,” children moved to Willmar. council to increase the budget for Skretvedt said. “It all comes from The family moved to Willmar in the parks and be willing to approve working to provide services to others 2010, when Skretvedt’s husband took improvement projects. or your community.” a job as a family practice physician “To me that is fun — that is what Her volunteer work also provided with ACMC, now CentraCare. you want to do, community service personal benefits to Skretvedt. that brings joy,” Skretvedt said. “It She learned through various is a beautification project in my “That is what projects and internships that eyes.” public relations and mass Things really started moving community service is. communications would be a career when, in June 2016, Willmar path on which she could continue businessman and state lawmaker You are there for a doing the type of work she Dave Baker approached the city loved. After earning a degree in about building a massive, fully common goal and advertising from Moorhead State, accessible playground at Robbins working toward Skretvedt got her first job with the Island. Grand Forks Parks District as its At the same time Baker, something together” approached Skretvedt to help PR communications specialist. “This is where my passion for lead the project, along with Kathy - Rachel Skretvedt parks came from,” Skretvedt said. Schwantes. They headed a project It was a rebuilding time for that involved dozens of people, Grand Forks, which needed to repair By 2014, at the urging of thenbusinesses and organizations, and was and restore some of its parks facilities city administrator Charlene Stevens, worth more than $1 million. after the 1997 flood. While working Skretvedt was appointed to the WCER “It takes a large group of people to for Grand Forks, Skretvedt was able Advisory Board. While sitting on do what we did,” Skretvedt said. to see how a project can go from an that board, Skretvedt was involved Within a year of Baker first talking idea to completion. She also learned in several park-related issues — about the project, Skretvedt and her how important a role good parks play including a safety review of playground team were celebrating the official in the overall health and happiness of equipment, and the completion and grand opening of the Robbins Island a community. These are lessons she approval of the master park plan. Destination Playground.

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Willmar Destination Playground steering committee co-captains Kathy Schwantes and Rachel Skredtvedt present Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin and City Administrator Ike Holland the key to the playground during the ceremonial hand over of the playground to the city on June 23, 2017. Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

Tax project at Robbins Island. She already knew several people involved in the sales tax, and was quick to take on the newest challenge. “The job wasn’t done out there. They wanted more out there; you could see there was the desire,” Skretvedt said. “We were very thankful the community said yes.” The 0.5% sales tax increase, which is to raise approximately $30 million over 13 years for six community projects, was approved in November 2018. Robbins Island was budgeted for $3 million to complete even more improvements at the park.

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The funds for the playground came from private and business donations, and community members helped construct it over a nine-day period. “We did more than just build a playground. We really built a community because of the connections you made,” Skretvedt said. “It really united us as a community. We were all in this together.” Following the success of the Destination Playground, Skretvedt soon found herself involved in another major parks project — the Invest in Willmar Local Option Sales

This included a new road, parking lots, lighting, waterline and several upgraded park shelters. The team working on the Robbins Island project were lucky they already had the park master plan to build upon and also took advantage of low bid prices to get all the pieces of the project completed. “It all needed to be changed; it all needed to be done,” Skretvedt said. Overlapping some of the local option sales tax construction was the building of the four-season shelter, which was paid for in part by a Legacy Grant through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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Rachel Skretvedt talks to a group of Destination Playground build volunteers at Robbins Island in Willmar in May 2017. Contributed / Fernando Alvarado

Yet again, Skretvedt was involved, helping with the planning stages of the project. While it took a bit longer to get everything completed at the park due to funding constraints on the shelter — and the pandemic, labor shortages and supply chain issues for the sales tax project — Skretvedt is quite happy with the finished products. “It is such a crown jewel,” Skretvedt said of Robbins Island. With the completion of the sales tax project, Skretvedt is looking for her next volunteering project. She has recently been named to her church’s board and has been working part time with the YMCA, so she continues to serve her community in other ways.

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“We need to think about our future and get kids interested, because that is the only way communities can survive, if you have the next generation working to do it” - Rachel Skretvedt

She is open to opportunities, whether it is helping with the parks or in other areas. “I really have that urge to help,” Skretvedt said. “When I see a need, I want to be able to provide.” As someone who has seen and experienced the benefits of volunteering and serving the community, Skretvedt urges others to do the same. “You become more aware of your community needs when you step into that first volunteer program,” Skretvedt said. She also hopes that her three children and other young people will also find ways to serve their communities. Being a good role model for the next generations is another reason why Skretvedt believes being a volunteer is so important. “We need to think about our future and get kids interested, because that is the only way communities can survive, if you have the next generation working to do it,” Skretvedt said. “You want them to see anything they do can have a positive impact.” n U-NIQUE

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Community service

projects for kids METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

The importance of giving back to one’s community is a value that parents can instill in their children at an early age. Learning about worthy causes in local communities can help develop empathy in children and give them insight into those who live outside of their social and economic spheres. In addition, encouraging children to take part in community service can teach them skills they would not necessarily learn in the classroom. Getting involved in community service as a child may lead to a lifelong commitment to giving back. The following are some ways children can get involved in community service projects.

Spend time with seniors.

Children can visit seniors in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, provided that the visits are cleared with the home’s staff. Kids can work alongside seniors on craft projects or participate in games like bingo.

Collect food for the needy.

Volunteering with a local soup kitchen can teach children about the plight of the less fortunate. Kids also can collect canned or boxed food and deliver it to food pantries so that no needy family has to go hungry.

Improve school grounds.

Working with the principal of a local school, children can make plans to improve the grounds. Ideas include repairing play equipment, planting trees, adding a vegetable or flower garden, or installing buddy benches where friends can find each other and hang out.

Donate eyeglasses.

Service projects are great ways for kids to get involved and give back to their communities.

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Kids can gather used eyeglasses and donate to an organization that recycles them for the needy.

Send care packages.

Kids can reward first responders and military personnel who live in their communities by putting together care packages for them and their families.

Pick up litter.

Children can gather like-minded friends and participate in a beach or park cleanup.


Montevideo artist grabbing the opportunity that comes with

unexpected changes BY SHELBY LINDRUD | WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE

MONTEVIDEO — Times of upheaval can often bring about new opportunities, even ones you might never have thought to look for. That is what has happened to M E Fuller, a Montevideo-based author and artist who has taken those unexpected chances and turned them into successes. “It’s okay that I am 70 years old and just hitting my stride,” Fuller said. “There are doors opening for me now.”

WORDS ON A PAGE

The first open door came about eight years ago, when Fuller lost her job working for Crow Wing County as an administrative assistant. Instead of looking for a new full-time job, Fuller decided it was time to finally focus on her art and writing and to do what she wanted, not what a client or employer required. While she still had to work to make a living, at least this time it would be on her terms. “I’m going to go after what I’m good at,” Fuller said. “This was my opportunity to jump back in and really start to learn and study.”

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She received a grant from the Five Wings Art Council to basically learn how to write a novel, which helped her create the first draft of her first book, “Saving the Ghosts.” She then received a second artist project grant from Five Wings that helped her complete the publishing process for that book. She also took part in a five-day residency with Minnesota authors Nickolas Butler and B.J. Hollars. “It turned me on my head about how to really approach the book,” Fuller said. “It is what it is today because that really opened my eyes to something that made sense to me about how to process your story and how to deliver it.” “Saving the Ghosts” is an intense fictional story about a woman having to come to deal with abuse she suffered as a child. Because of the tense subject matter of that first novel, for her second book, Fuller wanted to do something less heavy. She decided to create a cozy mysteries series, titled “Filthy, Dirty Gardening Gloves.” The first book, “Blood on the Bridal Wreath” was released in 2021. “It’s a little saucier than a normal cozy mystery,” but still not graphic, Fuller said. “It is meant to be silly and funny. It isn’t going to break your sleep.” With two books under her belt, Fuller has started giving author talks and holding writing workshops across the region. Fuller doesn’t consider herself a writing teacher, but rather a coach. Just as authors helped her when she first started writing novels, Fuller is giving back by assisting new writers get started. “Readers like to hear from authors about how they wrote things,” Fuller said. “And I like to talk about it.” Writing has taken a bit of backseat recently, since Fuller’s painting started to take precedence this past year. Despite that, she plans to get back to her keyboard, working on the second book of her mystery series this fall, along with scheduling author talks and book signings across the region. “I want to get back to my writing practice,” Fuller said.

Artist M E Fuller works on her most recent painting in her Montevideo studio on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

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PAINT ON A CANVAS

For most of her life, Fuller has dabbled in traditional ways of painting and drawing. That all started to change last June when she took an online class she thought would help her with her watercolors. Instead, it opened her eyes to entirely new way of seeing and painting art— abstract expressionism. The course, taught by Pat Dews, focused on painting nature in the abstract. At first, Fuller wasn’t sure about it. “I couldn’t connect with what she was doing, but I was fascinated by it,” Fuller said. Intrigued, Fuller started watching YouTube videos and took another online course, this time with artist Louise Fletcher. It was during that class that everything connected. “They take layers and layers of texturing and paint and mark making to find what is there,” Fuller said. In Fuller’s opinion, abstract painting isn’t just about seeing the picture. It allows the painter and the viewer to actually experience what is being presented on the canvas, whether it is feeling a breeze off Lake Superior or hearing the crunch as you walk through a snowcovered field. Abstract work also allows the viewer to see something in the painting that the artist doesn’t.

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M E Fuller works on her most recent novel in her Montevideo home on Thursday, Aug. 4. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

“This abstract work is the most exhilarating creative experience I have ever had,” Fuller said. “It is just different.” Fuller’s venture in abstract expressionism has attracted new attention to her work from other artists, buyers and galleries. Since she started her new paintings, she has booked several regional gallery exhibits, such as at the K.K. Berge Gallery in Granite Falls, and even did a live painting show with well-known Minnesota artist David Austin. Next fall, a solo exhibit of Fuller’s abstract work will go on display for several weeks at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji. “It is just stunning, I can’t quite take it in,” Fuller said.

GRABBING OPPORTUNITIES

Fuller said she doesn’t believe in regrets and, for the most part, she doesn’t have any. The fact that it took until she retired for her art and writing career to really take off isn’t a negative in her book. Instead, it is an example of not turning away when life offers you an opportunity. Losing her job pushed her to start up her bookwriting business. Then the coronavirus pandemic arrived. While she wouldn’t wish a global pandemic, or illness, on anyone, Fuller admits she was one who yielded some surprise benefits, especially regarding her art. “It left me with all the time I needed, all the space I needed to work on whatever ideas I had,” Fuller said. Without that time, Fuller might never had discovered her love and talent for abstract art and been able to share it with others. Despite the challenges those life events caused, Fuller made the decision to take a chance, to see where those opportunities might lead you. You never know what might happen. “Take advantage of the situations that come, show up for things,” Fuller said. “Find out, don’t guess. n 16 | U-NIQUE

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M E Fuller holds one of her recent paintings in her Montevideo home on Thursday, Aug. 4. Fuller’s art falls under the category of abstract expressionism. M E Fuller’s novels “Saving The Ghost” and “Blood on the Bridal Wreath” sit in her studio in Montevideo on Thursday, Aug. 4. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune


Tips to host an

entertaining game night

Fun and games aren’t just for kids. Many adults find pleasure in playing various games — whether it’s board games, team sports or video games. Games present ways to escape the daily grind, relieve stress and have a little fun along the way. Some people like to host game nights on a whim. Others treat it seriously and host these events with some regularity. Hosts and hostesses can follow these tips to enjoy a successful game night for adults.

Select the game in advance.

Figure out a system for selecting games for each game night. Perhaps there’s a rotating schedule based on participants or the primary organizer selects from a list of games. Knowing what will be played in advance ensures the game night begins promptly when guests get settled.

Invite a wide array of people.

Team games are fine ideas when hosting a crowd, and play can be intense. Try to choose people who share your enthusiasm for game play. A mix of introverted and extroverted people will provide balance.

Serve the right refreshments.

Select finger foods that can be enjoyed while play is in action. Avoid overly messy items, or those that are greasy or drip a lot. Appetizers on toothpicks can be popped in the mouth onehanded. As for beverages, offer nonalcoholic options even if you will have bar staples. Sometimes alcoholic drinks can loosen up crowds and serve as ice breakers, but it is up to you as the host regarding what to serve.

Enlist a moderator.

Plan for someone — whether it’s you

METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

or someone else — to moderate the games. Moderators can ensure the pace of the game keeps moving and even keep score. Learn to read hints that suggest guests are getting bored and bring out a secondary game to switch things up.

Create a comfortable environment.

Guests’ comfort is essential. Have plenty of seating available if the game will take place around a table. Move furniture aside for charadesstyle games and bring in cushions to increase seating.

Go out.

Game night needn’t take place at home. Many bars, restaurants and other businesses routinely host game nights. Take your group on the road to a local establishment that hosts game nights to switch things up.

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Sunburg’s traditional arts heritage protected by

arts initiative BY SHELBY LINDRUD | WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE

SUNBURG — Famous for its annual Syttende Mai celebration, Sunburg holds its Norwegian heritage close to its heart. The community also has a love of gathering together and singing a few songs. “There was a real tradition here, about that community gathering around music,” said Darlene Schroeder. To keep that tradition alive, Schroeder helped establish the Sunburg Heritage Arts Initiative back in spring 2021. With the help of a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, the initiative focuses on growing interest in two types of Norwegian craft arts and teaching the next generation of fiddle players. “Let’s keep this going, lets keep this cool community stuff going,” Schroeder said. “It is all about success and fun.”

ROSEMALING AND HARDANGER

Two of the most popular traditional Norwegian arts are Rosemaling painting and Hardanger embroidery. Both have histories dating back hundreds of years in Norway.

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“You don’t have to be great at this, just enjoy it.” - Darlene Schroeder

Rosemaling started getting a foothold in Norway around the early 1700s, and since then it has embellished an untold number of houses, furniture, wood trim, clocks, trunks and other home decor items. Finished pieces are usually covered in flowers, such as roses, along with other stylized plant life, such as leaves and vines. The art form came over to the United States with the wave of Norwegian immigrants from the 1800s, and is still practiced today in places with Norwegian ancestry, such as Minnesota. Hardanger, named for a district in Norway where the embroidery style was created, is based off even older systems from Italy and the Middle East. It started to become popular in Norway during the 1700s, and is now found trimming traditional Norwegian costumes and other textiles such as tablecloths. “There are still people around who are really into it,” Schroeder said. In fall 2021, the Initiative purchased supplies, books and templates for both Rosemaling and Hardanger crafts, and held workshops. It also started hosting weekly gatherings at the Sunburg Community Center for people to work on their projects. Schroeder said the plan is to restart those Sunday meetups this fall. “We’ve got the supplies, so you don’t have to buy anything,” Schroeder said. People just have to bring the piece they plan to paint if they want to do Rosemaling. “It really is a community, teach each other as you go along.” While Hardanger can be a challenge, Schroeder said being perfect isn’t the point. “You don’t have to be great at this, just enjoy it,” Schroeder said.

FUTURE FIDDLERS OF SUNBURG

A group of women work on their Hardanger embroidery projects at the Sunburg Community Center. The workshop was held by the Sunburg Heritage Arts Initiative, funded by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council. Contributed / Darlene Schroeder

Schroeder has been a fiddle player for a long time and has been giving lessons. However, over the last several years, she and others started to notice a drop in the number of fiddlers. It isn’t like the late 1800s or early 1900s, when children would learn at the knee of relatives over the long winter nights. Today, people have to really make an effort to pass along those skills. “You have to be intentional to keep it going,” Schroeder said.

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Dempsey Schroeder of Minneapolis teaches younger fiddle players in a workshop at Hope Lutheran Church in Sunburg on Sunday, April 3. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

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With the grant money from SMAC, Schroeder was able to hold a series of fiddle workshops, taught by skilled teachers, to help revitalize fiddling in Sunburg and the surrounding region. Students of all ages participated. The workshops concluded with this year’s Syttende Mai celebration, where the fiddlers performed several times across town. Those shows were so successful the groups have received several other opportunities to play. “We’ve had five invitations to play since then,” Schroeder said. So far there are approximately 18 people involved in the fiddle lessons, a number Schroeder hopes will continue to grow. “Many of them are newbies,” Schroeder said. She also enjoys making fiddle lessons a family affair. It is not uncommon that the parents bringing their kids to lessons will soon find themselves with a violin in their hands. Schroeder has a few family groups among the students she helps teach. “If you want your kids to learn, I want you to learn with them,” Schroeder said. One of the programs started with the SMAC grant was Fiddle and Fun, held on Sundays. “We get together and fiddle and then we dance and then we fiddle,” Schroeder said. “This has really brought together the community. People are surprised by it. It is so much fun to play together.”

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The SMAC grant that help fund the Sunburg Heritage Arts Initiative was for $6,700 and ran through June. The supplies, teachers and programming it funded helped give the Initiative a good start. “The grant let us launch this, to try some stuff, and see where we want to go next,” Schroeder said. What is next might be applying for a second grant, to help fund the purchase of additional instruments and continue growing the music side of the Initiative. Schroeder said the Rosemaling and Hardanger will continue as well, but additional resources are needed for the fiddle program. It could mean bringing in piano and guitars, or holding additional workshops. The grant funds, and the Initiative itself, have a mission to make the arts available to all, no matter their backgrounds or their economic status. “What we are seeing is it is catching on. There should not be barriers to accessing and participating in the arts,” Schroeder said. No matter what direction the Initiative decides to go, community togetherness around the arts will continue to be the driving force of all it does. “It is really not about perfecting an art form but coming together around arts and being supportive of each other,” Schroeder said. n

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meals at home

Create restaurant-quality

METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

Few pleasures are as enjoyable as a delicious meal at a restaurant. However, in recent years, pandemicrelated safety measures and widespread inflation have led many people to cook at home with greater frequency. Cooking meals at home enables individuals to customize ingredients according to their dietary preferences. But some home cooks wonder if they can replicate the type of fine dining they enjoy at their favorite restaurants in a home kitchen without having the skills of a professional. The answer is “yes,” especially for people willing to follow some simple suggestions.

Start with a favorite restaurant meal

Mastering one favorite dish from a restaurant can be the starting point for developing a passion for replicating even more recipes. Figure out where you love to eat and then zero in on that one dish that has you salivating even before you’ve sat down at the table. Pay attention to the types of ingredients that went into the meal so you can search for a recipe that comes close.

Upgrade your equipment

If you plan to be cooking more fine meals at home, it may be worth it to invest in some new cooking gear. Trying to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver doesn’t work well in construction, and a stir-fry may not come out the same without a wok. Learn about the basic equipment to have in a kitchen, or seek the advice of a retailer like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Le Creuset or Williams Sonoma.

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Use quality ingredients

Be sure to use quality ingredients when preparing meals. For some this means spending extra on organic foods or choosing a better grade of meat, such as choice beef over select. Using fresh produce and herbs also may produce more flavor than packaged or dried varieties.

Mise en place is key

“Mise en place” is a French phrase meaning “putting in place” or “gathering.” This refers to sorting, chopping and measuring out all ingredients for a recipe in advance. By organizing what is needed, you can use ingredients in a timely manner and everything will be accessible. This can limit distractions during cooking and reduce risk of overcooking. Mise en place also ensures all ingredients are used.

Complicated is not necessarily better

A recipe doesn’t have to be complicated to qualify as fine dining. Some of the most delicious meals are those that use minimal ingredients but are cooked to perfection. Mastering a meal like a simple pasta dish could give you the confidence to try something more complex the next time.

Ask questions

Friends, family members and even culinary professionals may be willing to share their tips for success. The worst thing that can happen by asking for advice is the person says, “no.” The best that can happen is learning techniques that enable you to whip up more restaurant-worthy meals.

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As the leaves change, so do the

fashion trends BY SHELBY LINDRUD | WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE

Fall fashion trends sit on display at Urban Escape in Spicer on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

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WILLMAR — As the season changes — now more than two years after the coronavirus pandemic upended practically everything — local boutique owners are betting that many women will be in the mood to upgrade their closets. While ordering fall and winter stock, those boutique owners have noticed several trends that could be hot during these cooler seasons. They also believe that women are ready to get back out into society, with a wardrobe to match that urge. “People are going to dress up more,” said Trish Perry, owner of Lotus on Burlington in Willmar. “I think we are out of the COVID, sweatpants and just looking good on top.” Eryn Hannig, owner of Spicer’s Urban Escape, agrees that women are looking for a fashion upgrade, but without giving up some of the benefits the pandemic and remote working world brought. “Still comfortable, but a little dressier,” Hannig said. “Maybe a statement jacket to dress it up.” With 11 years in the boutique business, Hannig has seen trends come and go and come again. She first opened Urban Escape in Hutchinson before opening in Spicer in 2014. She moved to her latest storefront at 130 Lake Avenue N. in 2018. She said her store specializes in women’s clothes while offering some accessories and gift items. “A place to shop, escape and leave behind the chaotic lives we live,” Hannig said. “I’ve always wanted the store to just be inspirational and happy.” Perry is newer to the boutique world, having opened Lotus on Burlington, at 201 4th Street S.W. in Willmar, in October 2021. It was always a dream of Perry’s to own her own fashion store and to help her customers find that perfect outfit. The store focuses on clothing for women ages 35 and up.

“People are going to dress up more. I think we are out of the COVID, sweatpants and just looking good on top.” - Trish Perry

“A place to shop, escape and leave behind the chaotic lives we live.” - Eryn Hannig

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“It is really fun seeing the joy people have for looking nice and feeling good,” Perry said. Both Perry and Hannig attend clothing markets across the country, where they are able to see what could be the next big thing in fashion and order stock for upcoming seasons. They usually start purchasing fall and winter clothes in late winter and early spring. It can be a bit of a challenge to figure out which trends will catch on in west central Minnesota, but Hannig believes many are willing to give new ideas a try. “What I love about this area is they are trendier,” Hannig said. “It is fun because people will try these trends, but maybe in a subtle way.” Fashion trends can impact everything from cut and fabric to color and embellishment. This fall and winter, popular colors will range from bright and bold to more autumn colors such as cranberry and mustard. “It is called dopamine dressing. So like super bright colors, bold colors,” Hannig said. “To elevate style and your mood.” Perry is bringing in a wide range of different hues to Lotus.

Trish Perry, owner of Lotus on Burlington in downtown Willmar, sets up a mannequin for a fall fashion look in her store on Thursday, Sept. 1. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

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Eryn Hannig, owner of Urban Escape in Spicer, sets up a mannequin to display a new fall fashion look that is currently in style on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

“We have a lot of blue coming. Pink for winter,” Perry said. “So, a lot of color; the last few years have been rather dark.” Denim will, as usual, remain a staple of closets everywhere, but this fall skinny jeans are moving aside for more flared and wider bottoms. Also, shoppers will probably see a lot of frayed or slit-style bottoms, giving jeans a bit of a different look. “You are definitely going to move away from a clean edge,” Perry said. “Don’t hem. Cut.” Dresses will remain popular, as they are an easy piece to move from season to season and create a fashionable outfit around. “Women find them comfortable. It’s easy to throw leggings on (with) booties,” Perry said. Jackets in many forms and lengths will be on trend this year. This includes statement pieces in bright colors or with bold designs, like all over plaid or Aztec. Thought to remain popular this year will be the comfortable and versatile shacket. “It is a light jacket you can wear everyday,” Hannig said. “Like a cardigan but in jacket form.”

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“Women work hard and its important to look good, feel good and its okay to pamper yourself and give yourself permission to do it. We forget to take care of ourselves.” - Trish Perry

Accessories sit on display at Lotus on Burlington in Willmar on Wednesday, Aug. 17. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Fall fashion trends sit on display at Urban Escape in Spicer on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

28 | U-NIQUE

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All of these pieces might also be embellished with different fabrics or trims. Vegan leather, fur and crochet were all popular at markets this year. It could range from a leather sleeve trim on a shirt to an entire patchwork crochet sweater. Both Perry and Hannig have had to balance buying trendy pieces while still stocking items women from around this area, who might be a bit more conservative in dress style, will be willing to try. “We add in a lot of the trendy things, but also have those timeless pieces that are solid and you can transition from each season,” Hannig said. Of course, an outfit isn’t complete without the accessories. Hannig said crossbody handbags with interchangeable straps will be popular. Jewelry is a bit more of a personal decision. Hannig said Urban Escape will continue to offer more dainty, gold pieces, though there has been some talk that big, bold and colorful could be popular. “Pearls are back,” Hannig said. As women who live in a climate where temperatures commonly dip far below freezing in the winter, being able to layer items is very important. Many of the trendy and timeless pieces Lotus on Burlington and Urban Escape stock, no matter the season, allow for just that. “I want to make sure women understand there are a few different ways to wear something, so it doesn’t just sit in a closet,” Perry said. While most women who walk into a boutique might have an idea of what they think looks good on them, Perry advises they also come in willing to experiment just a bit. You never know what you might find. “You really need to be open to trying different things,” Perry said. What makes a trend a trend is a bit of a hard question to answer. Some of it comes from the runways and fashion weeks in major fashion cities such as New York, Paris and Milan. Other trends gain popularity after being seen enough times on social media influencers or celebrities. It can take a few years before trends reach greater Minnesota, but Hannig finds her customers willing to try them. “This area is pretty trendy,” Hannig said. “We just start gravitating towards it.” No matter the trends, or personal style, what is important for shoppers to remember is to only buy clothes they like and feel comfortable in. It is also okay to participate in some retail therapy. You deserve it, Hannig and Perry emphasized. “Women work hard and its important to look good, feel good and its okay to pamper yourself and give yourself permission to do it,” Perry said. “We forget to take care of ourselves.” n


Your local newspaper can help your business thrive

Dear merchants, business owners and entrepreneurs, Are you launching a new product or service, hiring employees or organizing a major sale? Have you recently moved, renovated or made administrative changes? Or perhaps you’re sponsoring a local event or one of your top employees is retiring? If you want to make sure your client base knows about your latest offerings and special events, advertise with us. Every week, thousands of readers peruse the pages of our community paper. If you work with us, we can help you keep them informed. In fact, there are numerous ways to showcase your products and services. Print ads, web ads, advertorials and sponsored columns can all be used to make an impact. Fortunately, our dedicated team of marketing specialists is available to help you increase your visibility in the region throughout the year. We’d be happy to discuss your needs and develop a personalized strategy to enhance your brand image. On behalf of our team, thank you for your trust. We look forward to working with you.

for more information contact

Christie Steffel

t: 320.214.4317 csteffel@wctrib.com sales@wctrib.com

PO Box 839 Willmar, MN 56201 To Subscribe call 320-235-1154 U-NIQUE

SEPTEMBER 2022 | 29


Healthy and fun

METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

rainy day activities for kids

There are numerous reasons for children to spend time outdoors. Soaking up sunlight and fresh air can do everything from reduce stress to improve cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, not every day is tailormade for spending time outdoors. When inclement weather threatens, some creative thinking may be necessary to keep kids happy and occupied. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting communities, there’s the added challenge of ensuring indoor activities are conducted in a safe manner. Here are a few ideas for getting started.

meetings, and even arts and crafts events. Check to see if your local library requires masks to participate indoors.

Establish an indoor campsite.

Camping is a popular outdoor activity that can go on rain or shine. Those who are averse to camping in the rain can recreate the magic of camping indoors. Set up a tent or make a lean-to from blankets and sheets. Use a fireplace or stove to roast marshmallows and make indoor s’mores.

Make homemade playdough.

crowds, try visiting shortly after doors open or an hour or two before doors close. Foot traffic tends to be lower at these times.

Host an outdoor movie viewing.

Homeowners with covered awnings or outside porches can project a movie onto a screen and have movie-goers watch from their sheltered locations. Serve plenty of healthy snacks and a few sweet treats to munch on during the film.

Play in the rain.

Parents or caregivers can hide an item and set children on the course toward finding the treasure by providing clues that incrementally lead to the final hiding place.

Invite a few of the children’s friends over and mix up a batch of homemade playdough. A handy recipe can be found at www. iheartnaptime.net/play-dough-recipe/. Children can spend hours molding the playdough into imaginative creations.

Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean outdoor fun needs to be entirely curtailed. Children can gather in a garage with the door left open. Then they can take turns dashing out to stomp in puddles or dance in the rain showers. Just have plenty of towels on hand and choose a warm rainy day so kids won’t catch a chill.

Libraries have a host of activities ideal for rainy days. Apart from various genres of reading materials, there are movies to rent, informational classes, rooms for club

Communities across the country are home to various museums, some showcasing ancient artifacts and others touting novelties. For those concerned about indoor

Poor weather necessitates having indoor activities ready for kids. Thankfully, there’s plenty of entertaining ideas to keep them occupied.

Plan a scavenger hunt.

Visit the library.

Visit a museum.

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Just Fine

She’s doing

Minnesota’s Jenna Kutcher grows fanbase with popular podcast, New York Times bestseller, ‘How Are You, Really?’ BY BRIELLE BREDSTEN | DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE

Jenna Kutcher and her family have homes in Hermantown and Grand Marais, where they split their time. Contributed / Jennifer Perkins

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HERMANTOWN, Minn. — A snap decision to purchase a $300 Craigslist camera was the turning point for how Jenna Kutcher, then 22, pictured success. Kutcher was raised in a rural setting on five acres in Esko, Minnesota, with her father, mother, older brother and younger sister, as well as a family dog and a couple rabbits. Her parents held traditional jobs: Her father worked at the paper mill and her mother was a nursing instructor. An entrepreneurial spirit was forged from childhood through driveway lemonade stands and face painting at Grandma’s Marathon Whipper Snapper race when Kutcher and her siblings wanted new bikes. “We thought it would mean more to them if they earned the money,” said Sue Shelerud, Kutcher’s mother and close friend. “Values we worked hard to instill in all our children included kindness, compassion, respect, work ethic and faith. We worked to instill these by the way we lived our life, as well as opportunities we sought out for them, including academics, sports, camps and family time.”


Throughout early teenage years, Kutcher worked as a nanny and at a golf shop, cleaned limousines and was a tour guide at the local paper mill. In school, Kutcher was involved in diving and gymnastics. The entire family did remodeling at the Gymnastics Academy in Duluth as a trade for Kutcher’s gymnastics tuition, Shelerud recalled, adding that each of her children also paid their own way through college. After graduating from Esko High School, Kutcher moved to Wisconsin to attend the University of WisconsinStevens Point. As a freshman and captain of the college swim team, her hair was tinted green from the chlorine at the time she met her future husband, Drew Kutcher. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management. Then in 2012, she took a chance by quitting her 9-to-5 corporate job in a windowless office to capture life through the lens of a wedding photographer. “Honestly, my greatest fear was that I was a fool for walking away from security and into uncertainty, both of which are valid concerns,” Kutcher said. “I remember sitting down and creating an action plan surrounding what exact steps I would take

if things didn’t work out. That exercise gave me the feeling of flipping the light switch on when you’re worried there’s a monster under the bed.” By 2014, that camera led to a six-figure income — an accomplishment that came just two years after taking the leap to starting a wedding photography business. By that time, Kutcher had shot more than 80 weddings. The journey was fully funded on her own without any investors or partners, all while paying student loans, funding a wedding and working a 9-5 job to get it all off the ground, she said. Kutcher remembers the day vividly, as well as the feeling that accompanied it. “Six figures felt like this elusive goal and the day I hit it, I thought my life would suddenly change. I waited for the angels to sing or balloons to drop and they never did. In fact, on that day, I remember thinking to myself, ‘I thought this would feel different,’” she said. “While it was an incredible milestone, the means of getting there had led me to burnout, and I knew I had to change something. “From that day forward, I started looking at time, rather than money, as my most real currency.” “It has been amazing to watch her entrepreneurial business evolve, and

“While it was an incredible milestone, the means of getting there had led me to burnout, and I knew I had to change something.” - Jenna Kutcher

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I know I may be biased, but she is honestly so gifted and visionary in her work,” said Shelerud. “I also have worked for her business in the past as a mastermind event coordinator and have traveled with her to different speaking and work engagements. This has given me even deeper insights into her business and her positive impact on the world.”

GOING NATIONAL

As her popularity grew, Kutcher reached 10,000 followers on Instagram, launched her “Jenna Kutcher Course” and was recognized with the Wisconsin Bride Best of Weddings Award for three years in a row. In 2016, Kutcher launched “The Goal Digger Podcast” — now with 500 episodes and over 50 million downloads worldwide. The podcast covers digital marketing topics; how to market your business; how to obtain a successful Instagram following; leaving your 9-5 job and following your dreams; content creation; and SEO. Most recently, in 2022, the online marketing guru appeared on the “Today Show” after publishing a New York Times bestselling book, “How Are You, Really?” “I will honestly say that hitting the New York Times bestseller list for my book, ‘How Are You, Really?’ feels incredible,” she said. “Stepping into the writing space and working on a project for two years was a big departure from my online work, and choosing to write about life, rather than business, and how to live out your truth felt incredibly vulnerable.” Meanwhile, she got married, traveled the world, purchased a lake home and came into her own. How does she make having it all seem so easy? That wasn’t exactly the case. In her book, she speaks from experience. “There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this profile, you might be someone who hasn’t checked in with yourself in a while,” she said. “When is the last time you paused long enough to determine if you’re happy, if you’re faking the enjoyment of your life, or if you are on a path that lights you up? A lot of times we avoid the answers and shield ourselves from having to even ask the questions with the busyness of our lives.”

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In the midst of the ups, there were downs that were cause for a step back to reevaluate her goals and priorities. In 2016 and 2017, Kutcher and her husband experienced two miscarriages prior to welcoming their children, Coco in 2018 and Quinn in 2021. Kutcher shares more on her shift in perspective in her book. “Loss has been my greatest teacher and my three-year season of waiting was just as important as what I was waiting for,” she said. “Often, when we’re stuck in a waiting season, our tendency is to waste it but looking back I can see how I thoughtfully, slowly and intentionally worked through the waiting to build the type of life that would allow me to relish and enjoy the miracle I was waiting for. “Motherhood has changed me in a million ways: from the way I perceive time, to the boundaries I set, to the way I show up in the world.” Helping women harness the power to take control of their lives is the driving goal for Kutcher. Her inspiration is drawn from within, and her small town upbringing sticks with her regardless of heights reached, she said. The confidence, kindness, empathy, respect she was taught are what carry her forward, no matter where she goes. “I have a deep knowing that the work I am doing is a direct answer to the call I’ve been given,” she said. “There’s no other way to describe it, but it’s this innate desire to try, fail, experiment, share and teach.” In her youth and today, Shelerud describes her daughter as confident and vibrant — someone who can carry on a conversation with anyone and has always been comfortable expressing her opinions.

36 | U-NIQUE

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Jenna Kutcher as a toddler holding the book, “How To Talk Minnesotan” by Howard Mohr. In 2022, Kutcher would become an author of her own book, “How Are You, Really?” Contributed / Sue Shelerud


“I have always described her as an old soul with her innate wisdom.” - Sue Shelerud

“I have always described her as an old soul with her innate wisdom,” Shelerud said. “I would say she was surrounded by love and support. Not only from us, but from grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends and church.” Kutcher added: “My deepest desire is to be around people who aren’t afraid of the idea of change, who usher in the notion of evolving, who love to learn, who welcome being stretched, and who are eager to meet the next version of themselves. In a world that loves to categorize people or measure worth based off of accolades and titles, I want to surround myself with students of life.” In 2018, Kutcher shot her last wedding ever, moved to Minnesota, and was named “Aerie Real Role Model,” with the campaign photos appearing in Times Square. “I would say we have become closer since she began her business and even more so since she moved back home and became a mom,” Shelerud said. “My husband and I have loved seeing her joy in being a mom. She truly puts that as a priority in her life and is thriving in the role. All three of our children are entrepreneurial and most important, good humans and we are so thankful for our children, their spouses and our grand-kids!” Kutcher’s family splits their time between two homes: one in Hermantown and one in Grand Marais. Having spent over a decade away from the Northland and returning just a few years ago, Kutcher said she is constantly inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit present in the city. “From the revival of West Duluth to the genius curation of the shops up the shore, I love this city and the creative minds who are ushering it forward. There is something so grounding about living where we live and while I have changed and grown, my feet are firmly planted on this Minnesota soil,” Kutcher said. n

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Budget-friendly ways to

update a wardrobe METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

An individual’s appearance can speak volumes. For many, that underscores the importance of having a wardrobe that presents the image they want to project. Unless you have unlimited funds, the process of curating a wardrobe can take time. Life brings with it many expenses, but it’s possible to update your wardrobe each season without breaking the bank. Check out these seven money-saving suggestions before visiting retailers.

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Investigate your closet (and others’)

Take stock of what’s already in your closet and drawers. You may forget what you have, particularly if you pack away seasonal items. In addition, check with roommates or family members to see if they have any pieces they don’t use or would like to swap. This keeps everyone looking fresh.

Turn pants into shorts or capris

Who hasn’t had the dryer shrink an item that once fit? Over time, the hemline on a dress may creep up or pants just don’t hit at the right spot on the ankle any longer. Rather than wasting an item, with some minor tailoring you can transform pants into shorts or capris and transform long dresses into short ones.

Invest in basics

Keep a cheat sheet in your pocket or purse when shopping so you can pick

up items when they are on discount. Staples to stock a wardrobe include a basic black dress, classic black dress pants, white dress shirt, A-line skirt in a neutral color, any occasion tops, and well-fitting darker wash jeans. For men, basics include slacks and blazers or a well-fitting suit, dress shirts in a few neutral colors, casual khaki slacks, well-fitting jeans, and casual polo shirts.

Shop from the back

Some people like to establish monthly shopping budgets, while others updating their wardrobes prefer to shop seasonally. Figure out how much you can devote to new clothes (after taking inventory of current items) and stick to that amount. If you’re a person who has difficulty saying “no” when shopping, shop with cash instead of card. When your funds are depleted, exit the store.

Shop thrift sales or consignment

Set your budget and shopping plan

Sale and clearance racks tend to be at the back of department stores and other retailers. Start there to grab some pieces before working your way forward to where the newer, more costly items are displayed.

Stick to a neutral color palette

It’s easier to mix and match newer items with pieces you already have if the colors blend. If you want to add pops of color, do so with accessories such as belts, ties, purses, or jewelry.

Just because it’s used doesn’t make durable clothing any less valuable. Thrift and consignment stores sell products at very low cost. Some places even have days during the week when ticketed items are slashed in price even further. Thrift and consignment stores also are great places to find unique pieces.

Updating a wardrobe doesn’t have to break the bank. Some simple strategies can ensure anyone looks their best and has money to spare.

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SEPTEMBER 2022 | 39


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