Megan Havig, multimedia journalism
FARGO, N.D. – The ideas of young entrepreneurs are realized in downtown Fargo.
The start-ups of stores and organizations like Unglued and Unseen Ministries demonstrate a fresh take on the downtown renaissance. Young people, under the age of 30, are creating small, not to mention smart, businesses in downtown. Facing what is said to be financially unstable times, these folks have taken an idea and maximized on Fargo’s healthy economy and supportive regional community.
These edgy business ventures are drawing people of all ages, supporting a theme of downtown, where there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
For anyone who has the visionary bug, or who would like to hear about downtown Fargo’s latest entrepreneurial buzz, read on.
TAG, Fargo’s newest pop-up store, opens for holidays season
Joe Burgum, a 19-year-old from Fargo and Jeff Knight, a 30-year-old from Moorhead, have started a pop-up t-shirt shop located at 601 First Ave. N., next to Halberstadt’s.
As a pop-up store, TAG stands temporary for the holiday season. Burgum and Knight say they learned about the model from Unglued, which ran as a pop-up shop for the 2011 holiday season before becoming a permanent location summer 2012. TAG offers product by Raygun, a t-shirt company based in Des Moines, Iowa, t-shirts designed by local artists and the TAG duo themselves.
For Burgum and Knight, the store is a trial-and-error project tied to goals of supporting the community of artists, designers and visionaries of Fargo-Moorhead.
“This isn’t set up as a cash cow,” Burgum says. “It’s set up as a demonstration project, as a community-gathering place, as a place where artists and designers are to be celebrated. It is about being sustainable, but it isn’t about becoming the biggest line possible…If it were, we would be selling those starchy box shirts.”
Burgum thought up the idea of TAG this past summer after attending a TEDx event and visiting Raygun’s store in Des Moines. When he returned to Fargo, he called Knight, creative designer at Sundog, who was “the best graphic designer he knew.” Meeting at the HoDo for lunch, the two found themselves “knee deep in ideas.” Four months of dreaming, organizing and building brought about TAG, which opened on Nov. 11.
Burgum and Knight encourage young entrepreneurs to seek business wisdom and advice from others when starting up a business.
“I think it’s about asking for help, and not being afraid to do that,” Burgum says. “There are a lot of things neither Jeff or I knew how to do in this, so we reached out to people and asked.”
Knight says that Fargo is a great place to try new business endeavors.
“We went into this thinking ‘we are never really going to fail,’” Knight says. “Even if we don’t sell as many shirts as we want, we can’t fail because we are doing stuff that is creating different energy anyways. We want people to invest back downtown and see all the cool stuff going on down here.”
Both Burgum and Knight have the entrepreneurial spirit in their blood. Burgum’s father, Doug Burgum, created Great Plains Software, which sold to Microsoft for $1.1 billion and then he started the Kilbourne Group. His mother, Karen Stoker, owns the Hotel Donaldson, known as the HoDo, in downtown Fargo. Knight’s father began a construction business but sold it when Knight was young.
The two exude the ambitious and visionary traits of their families. Burgum’s mother helped him settle on the name of the store. But Burgum and Knight want to mark downtown Fargo in their own way, with the stamp of TAG.
“This idea of a t-shirt tag came about and that’s what we decided to run with. If you think about a t-shirt tag or a Facebook tag; it’s about showing you were there,” Burgum says.
With its own stamp of approval, TAG is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Check out the designer wall for limited edition t-shirts
Fashion and entrepreneurship run in the blood of a young entrepreneur
Teresa O’Day moved her way up to storefront this year with her 2-year-old fashion boutique Proper & Prim.
The 27-year-old Fargo native began her small business just shy of three years ago. It was originally tucked away in the back of her mother’s store, O’Day Cache, a boutique specializing in global gifts and a pillar business on downtown Fargo’s main drag, Broadway.
O’Day attended St. Thomas in St. Paul and dreamed about owning her own fashion boutique. Those dreams were the conception of the future Proper & Prim.
O’Day collected business advice of not only her mother, but her grandfather and father, both who, at one point, owned O’Day Equipment, created by her great-grandfather. She also received advice from her aunt, who owns LakeGirl, a store and line of clothing, and
Peggary, a gift shop in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Finally, O’Day acquired wisdom from her grandmother, who helped found Gallery 4 of downtown Fargo, and went on to own an art gallery in Galena, IL.
“Each person had some advice, and regardless of their industry, I could apply it to my situation,” O’Day said.
Social media, personalized business bring inspiration and success for O’Day
Inspiration is key for the fresh trends that fill Proper & Prim. O’Day says that Instagram, a popular phone application for sharing photos with friends, yields fresh fashion and creative inspiration on the fly. O’Day also says that when she has time, she likes to check out street fashion blogs “Facehunter” and “The Sartorialist.”
She also enjoys matching new items with loyal customers.
“I love when a new shipment gets dropped off,” O’Day says. “It’s fun opening it up and getting an idea of which customers would love each piece. You get to know the regular’s style pretty well!”
O’Day feels positive about business startups created by young people.
“I would say go for it!” O’Day says. “The planning takes time and can seem tedious to a young person who is exciting about a new idea, but it will help you be successful.”
For this young up-and-coming entrepreneur, the advice rings true.
Proper & Prim is open Mon. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check out P&P’s website here.