Brittany Thompson, MSUM Print Journalism
FARGO, N.D. – Ashley Morken is driven, resilient, resourceful and creative. As the owner of Unglued, she has to be.
Morken strives to help people discover their passions. Whether it may be creating something with their hands, or owning their own business, she believes that people need to step away from their whirlwind schedules a bit and enjoy life more.
This 29-year-old, entrepreneur took time to sit down in her quaint boutique, located at 408 Broadway, and tell her story about how Unglued came to be.
Thompson: So, tell me about yourself.
Morken: I have lived in Fargo for almost eight years now, I think. I went to college in Grand Forks and that is how I got involved in Fargo. I grew up in the Duluth area, along the Iron Range. So I grew up there and then I went to college to become a nurse; I was a full-time nurse until about the end of July.
Thompson: Wow, you went from nursing to owning your own boutique. What made you decide to change careers?
Morken: Well, my husband and I have known for a long time, like even before we got married, that we eventually wanted to do something in downtown Fargo, specifically that inspired people in some way. We kind of thought it would have been a coffee shop or a music venue, but we really didn’t know what it should be.
So, when some friends and I got started in crafting, we were just getting together to do minor things, like sewing or screen-printing. A few of my friends wanted to start selling it, so they started selling them on Etsy.com. And then we met some other people who were involved in an indi-craft fest, and then we met other people in the community who we didn’t know too well ourselves, who were into the same thing. So that is how we started our craft fest. We saw like a need for it and we thought, “We love throwing events, “ and so we started solely by being a craft fest
Thompson: When did your Unglued Craft Fest begin?
Morken: It would have been February of 2011…, and we threw it together in like two months. Because we had gone to De Moines, Iowa and went to a craft fair there and we were, like, “there is such a thing as an indi-craft fest?” We hadn’t had any exposure to that world at that point. After the fair, we went to this store called Domestica, which supported a lot of the vendors from the fair, and we were, like, this should happen in Fargo.
Thompson: How many people showed up to your first Craft Fest?
Morken: Something like 2,000 people. You could hardly walk down the aisles and all the vendors sold super well and all of the people seemed super interested in their work, and kind of propelled us to continue doing this. We weren’t thinking (the fair) would be an annual thing. Everything has kind of spiraled from that.
Thompson: Did you originally have a store near 1st Avenue North downtown?
Morken: Yes, it was open for five weeks in February. We wanted to have it open in the dead of winter to get people out. And since that went really well and the vendors really liked it, that kind of made us continue to think about opening a shop downtown permanently.
Thompson: What has made you desire to get people involved in either finding a hobby or starting their own business (by hosting the Unglued workshops)?
Morken: We have just known so many people that feel really fulfilled by making something with their hands. Whether it is to sell or to give or for themselves… we just kind of wanted people to get that we feel like life has gotten so busy that people work more than 40 hours a week and they work at jobs that are super draining, and when they start having a hobby, trying something new, it just seems like they feel more fulfilled in a way.
We just have this drive to keep inspiring people in some way. Like they girl who made these earrings (Morken points to her ears). She is now selling all over the U.S. and in Australia. She started selling at our Unglued Craft Fest.
Thompson: Your store seems to have that relaxed vibe, like anyone can come in and hang out. Is that what you were going for?
Morken: Yes, we kind of have this café theme going, because we had always wanted a coffee shop, but we got involved in Bakeology, which my sister-in-law owns, and so they sell cupcakes here. People can definitely come in and hang out. We just got wi-fi, for people who want to come in and study. We want Unglued not just to be a place to shop, but a place to hang out with your friends and have a cupcake.
Thompson: What is your favorite part about working here?
Morken: I love meeting knew crafters, that’s for sure. It is super rewarding when people like come in the door and, like, freak out because they cannot believe a place like this exists, where it is like Etsy.com in real life.
Thompson: Well, now that you have told me your favorite part of working here, do you have a least favorite part?
Morken: Yeah, um, time management is still the biggest challenge. I thought it would be a lot easier after quitting my full-time job, which it is in so many ways. We just need to make sure we have good communication with our vendors, to make sure that they know what is going on, where their inventory is at.
Thompson: Do you do any crafts yourself?
Morken: Yes, I decided that I really needed to have a craft since I get asked this so often, so I do sew. I sell infinity scarves here, right now, out of up-cycled skirts. It’s pretty simple, but it’s reusing something. I will eventually have more here.
Thompson: What do you want to be remembered for someday?
Morken: That is a good question…seriously our word around here is “inspiration.” And I would say if I wanted people to remember me for something it would be for inspiring people to do things that they didn’t think were achievable.
Thompson: Do you have a quote that you live by?
Morken: I should. I love quotes … Cody Barts has a quote that I have printed around the store that says, “Make all Beautiful.” So for us, it is just super rewarding to make other peoples’ lives more beautiful, like by encouraging others to do this kind of stuff.
Thompson: What is your secret for success?
Morken: I feel like I could think of something better than I am thinking of right now… I would say it is being resilient and resourceful.
Did this article strike your interest in crafting?
Here is a Pinterest board to get you started. This board is filled with different craft projects that make great gifts or décor for your home. Happy crafting!
Unglued is open Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m
Below are some pictures inside Unglued