Makers of Minnesota

The Makers of Minnesota podcast, hosted by Stephanie Hansen, features products and services uniquely made in Minnesota -- and conversations with makers, entrepreneurs and innovators in Minnesota about how they conceive of their products and bring them to market.


Dao Labs (ep. 71)

Dao Labs is bringing Chinese herbal medical formulas direct to consumers in a drink powder to support your digestive, immune, and emotional health.

Past Episodes

North Mallow Marshmallows are premium flavored marshmallows made by Mike Nelson right here in Minnesota for your next s'more adventure.
Chris Montana and his wife Shanelle opened Du Nord Craft Spirits and Cocktail Room in 2013 and have been developing award winning spirits ever since.
Chocolate Celeste has been making beautiful bon bons and truffles that taste good but also look wonderful in their beautifully packaged designs.
Mary Kosir is the CEO and founder of WholeMe, delicious and nutritious nut clusters that she developed after her husband was diagnosed with diabetes.
Bee Free Honee is a plant based honey alternative dreamed up by a Minnesota Maker when her apple jelly failed and became Bee Free Honee instead.
The Bachman family has been growing Poinsettias in the Twin Cities for over 100 years. Find out what it takes to get 70,000 flowers from farm to flower.
Britt and Sara have been best friends since high school and together founded Darling Pickle Dip. Their dip is made from zesty pickled vegetables, herbs and spices that are mixed into a smooth cream cheese and white bean blend. You can find them at most Twin Cities farmers markets and Kowalski's.
Five Vodka is infused vodka made in Minnesota with only 5 ingredients. Whether it's their Cranberry Orange or Lemon Ginger, once you try it, you will find a million ways to use it in your cocktails.
Sara's Tipsy Pies have gone from the farmers market, to The State Fair, to your grocers freezer.
Pam Powell is Salad Girl Salad Dressing. Her designs and her flavor combinations make this organic, fresh, dairy free vinaigrette a crowd pleaser at both grocery stores and co-ops around the Midwest.
Larissa Loden became famous for making jewelry that invoked a sense of place with maps. From there she branched out into geometric shapes and more modern pieces that are distinctly Larissa Loden.
One Day Design is the interior design business of sisters Liz Knutson and Kathy Keehn who will recreate your space using your own furnishings.
Kelly McManus and Jeff Casper are the exceptionally curious noodlers behind Dumpling & Strand, fresh noodles that use ancient grains and surprising shapes to bring new versions of fresh noodles to Twin Cities noodle lovers.
Molly Morgan Katt and two friends launched Namakan Furs as a way to add a removable fur collar to any jacket or hoodie. Hear how they created a pattern for their thoughtful designs.
Dr. Elizabeth Klodas from the Minnesota company Step One Foods has developed 7 convenience foods that when eaten 2X a day as a replacement for other snacks and meals is proven to lower cholesterol.
What does it take to make good Minnesota wines? Rose Arntz from Cannon River Winery tells us about their latest crop of Minnesota grown wines.
Gustola Granola started with natural and whole ingredients to fuel a family of 6 and has moved from local farmers markets, to co-ops, to your favorite grocery shelves.
212 West is a custom jewelry company founded by Claire, teen maker and entrepreneur who inspires to change the world, one word at a time.
We visit with Julie Stellar of and Terralee Armbruster from to talk about their upcycled hats, bags, and mittens that got their start as used items at Arcs Value Village.
Taking Stock Foods co-founder Molly Clark is on to discuss how she created a food manufacturing company which creates healthful, tasty broths. We talk about her story and how she gives back to the community that has brought her success.
Matt McGinn, founder of Blackeye Roasting Company talks nitro cold brewed coffee and how he decided to add alcohol to it create Bad Larry's Cold Hard Coffee.
Bailey Nurseries are a 5th generation company located in Woodbury. We talk to Ryan McEaney about what it is like to be in a family owned company and how they keep reinventing themselves with new products like the Endless Summer Hydrangea.
Micah Svedja and his Bootstrap Coffee Roasting Company bring their favorite coffee beans to life from roasting to creating the perfect cup.
Bert Taylor and his group of 10 makers are creating the Minnesota made Vistabule Teardrop Trailer. The trailer is a small but spacious camper giving you all the amenities of home while fulfilling your need for adventurous travel.
Gina Green had the idea to make pregnant women more comfortable on their pool floats, thus the start of Belly Flopz - an inflatable with a hole designed specifically for pregnant women.
Chank Diesel founded the Chank Company, a Minneapolis based art studio where he crafts fonts for companies and brands all over the world. Hear about how he got started and what's next for the founder of the infamous "liquor store" font.
Geoff Warner created the concept of these unique small homes and makes them comfortable, stylish, and energy efficient.
Tony Nelson is the Minnesota puzzle twister who works with his wife to create jigsaw puzzles with a "twist".
Jodi Livon uses her intuition and psychic ability to coach entrepreneurs how to listen to their intuition and grow their business.
Adam Turman's illustrations have defined some of the iconic imagery associated with Minnesota. Find out how he got started and what inspires him in his work.
How do you get people excited about engineering ideas and making things? You start early. The Maker Faire is happening June 3, an event that will surely capture the imaginations of future @makersofMN
Brett Striker, founder and CEO of Maddy & Maize wanted to start a popcorn company with all natural ingredients. How did he pull it together to come with flavors like raspberry layer cake or coconut curry? Listen here to find out
Paul Dauenhauer, Associate professor at the University of Minnesota is a chemical Engineer who has helped create the "perfect soap molecule"
Tom Smude and his family started harvesting sunflower seed oil as a way to diversify their crops and provide a protein source for their cattle. Smude oil is now sold as a cooking oil, massage oil, and will soon find its way to your grocery store as microwave popcorn.
Susan Langer is engineering a new app that lets you Live, Give, and Save while making your everyday purchases. Susan shares her experience of getting an app to market
Andrew Muntz is "angleineering" custom lures for the largest fish on Minnesota lakes
Zachary Quinn started Love Your Melon for an entrepreneur class at St. Thomas with the idea of starting a company that can do some good. He has given every pediatric cancer patient in the country a Love Your Melon beanie and started an amazingly successful company
Ben Rients is on the verge of helping to launch a collective restaurant company called the Tributarians - all while cooking on the line at Lyn65 in Richfield. If successful he and his fellow Tributes will incubate concepts, create chef partners and provide living wages for all with benefits and paid time off
Ben Rients is on the verge of helping to launch a collective restaurant company called the Tributarians - all while cooking on the line at Lyn65 in Richfield. If successful he and his fellow Tributes will incubate concepts, create chef partners and provide living wages for all with benefits and paid time off
Ben Rients is on the verge of helping to launch a collective restaurant company called the Tributarians - all while cooking on the line at Lyn65 in Richfield. If successful he and his fellow Tributes will incubate concepts, create chef partners and provide living wages for all with benefits and paid time off
Ben Rients is on the verge of helping to launch a collective restaurant company called the Tributarians - all while cooking on the line at Lyn65 in Richfield. If successful he and his fellow Tributes will incubate concepts, create chef partners and provide living wages for all with benefits and paid time off
How did a gal who grew up in Wisconsin learning to make grasshoppers in the neighborhood tavern become a dually certified Sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild and the Court of Master Sommeliers. Leslee Miller is the sole owner of wine consulting firm, Amusee, based in Minneapolis. Whether it be a celebration, an opportunity to entertain business associates or a wine pairing she can help you navigate the world of wine.
When Cindy Siewert had to cut down an old Ash tree in her yard she knew that hauling it off to a landfill was not an option. Instead the idea for Wood From The Hood was born. The idea was simple: reclaim discarded trees from urban neighborhoods and create beautiful wood products.
Ashlee Olds, found her joy by making ice cream, having ice cream socials in her backyard, and eventually partnering and marketing her ice cream to yummy people in the Twin Cities. Hear her story on the eve of her expanding her Sweet Science Ice Cream brand into her 1st location in the Schmidt Brewerys Keg House.
Amy Quale, Co-Founder of Wise Ink Creative Publishing with Dara Beevis, helps mission driven authors get their stories published, marketed and into the hands of consumers.
Sairey Gernes surprised her girlfriends one day when she told them she was going to start a company designing and making comfortable underwear. After some hard fought lessons and trial and error she did just that and the company is moving into travel and active wear for chic city girls on the go.
Making bath bombs and body scrubs for friends fired up the entrepreneurial engine in Laura Ochoco to start The Bath Bird body products all hand made in her kitchen in St. Paul, MN.
Don Roper, VP of Marketing for Honeybear Brands, introduces us to the Pazazz Minnesota apple that their cooperative of Minnesota farmers has grown for your favorite retailer. What does it take to bring a new apple to your favorite produce section?
Serial entrepreneur Dave Ostlund has struck again with a craft beer and cocktail club called Belly Up. Join the club and choose a membership for 25 of the Twin Cities hottest beer or cocktail spots. Find out how he launched Belly Up and how he will work on getting proof of concept for his start up.
Amy Lokken was a shopping mall merchandiser when her idea for a modular marketing system struck. The pieces had to be simple, light and be able to be setup by one person. These simple displays became the locally produced Mud Modular systems.
Colby Wegter is a kindred soul to the @makersofMN podcast. He started a website that takes "ALookInto" the stories of the unique creatives and makers that make up our community. Beautiful photos and the written word help us to get to know these unique stories.
Laura Walden curates gift boxes with products exclusively from Minnesota makers. Learn how she selects her talented makers and compiles the perfect gift mix.
Lisa Nicholson went from local farmers markets to your grocery store produce section with her Salsa Lisa's Fresh Salsa. Find out how she made the leap from a case of salsa at a time to a large scale commercial kitchen in St Paul while maintaining that farmers market freshness.
If I told you that there are two guys, in a boat, in the dark, with a bow, on a Minnesota lake shooting Carp and hauling them back into the boat and turning them into organic fertilizer - you would have the story of the Two Mikes
The Two Mikes were childhood friends who turned their love of fishing into a business turning Carp into Organic fertilizer sold under the name "Two Mikes Green Fin Plant Care." Hearing this story is not just another fish tale in fact it's a story of how to turn the invasive carp into a money making endeavor.
Scott Mayer didn't see himself as an event promoter. He did see himself as someone who was interested in bettering his community, who liked talking with people and who saw a need to bring the "party" to some underserved industries who rarely took time to celebrate their achievements. First it was the Ivey Awards that served the theater industry. From there he brought about the Charlie Awards for the restaurant business and now he is working on the "One Man Project" dedicated to bringing exceptional men together in their communities to champion a cause and work together on a service project in their community.
From IT Recruiter with On Demand Group to Heathers Dirty Goodness Spices and Crooked Water Spirits, Heather Manley is a serial entrepreneur who has made her 3 loves all work for her in business and in Life. When you ask Heather Manley how she started her companies she will tell you she structures her life around three things: family/friends, food and booze. Her first endeavor was growing her families business On Demand Group. From there she created Heathers Dirty Goodness Spice Blends that she sold into grocers. The final feather in her cap came with the launch of Crooked Water Spirits Company. Hear about her journey and how being a woman business owner who isn't afraid to pick up the phone has served her well.
Chiara and Tony Bolton fell in love with bees first then each other. This husband and wife entrepreneur team learned the bee keeping trade from Chiara's experience on a farm in China. Once bitten by the love of bees, they started mating queens and genetically selecting them for the best characteristics for Minnesota to create more thriving bee colonies. From bees to their bee by-products of Bolton Honeys to the Finalists in the Minnesota Cup their bee story is fascinating.
Manufacturing in Minnesota is alive and well on the shores of Lake Minnetonka where we found Brooks Chandler and her growing company, Canvas Back. Canvas Back makes custom bed liners for your car. Dirty dogs, leaves or wood logs can all stand up to the wear and tear of these waterproof and durable liners custom made for cars in Minnesota.
Mark Levine can see a good opportunity when it happens. After helping a client self publish a book he realized there were not very many good resources or "how to manuals" so he created one and it propelled him to be the self publishing expert! Hear his story here
Dean Phillips comes from a long line of successful entrepreneurs. In his world, that success comes with responsibility. From his early days of college he worked in his families distillery and gradually worked his way up to be on the team that reimagined many of Phillips recipes from the 1950's including the flavored vodka line we now know as UV Vodka. Other brands followed like: Revelstoke Whiskey and Prairie Vodka as the grain to glass movement took hold. After the death of his father, Dean joined the Talenti Gelato Company that eventually was sold paving the way for his current pursuit, Penny's Coffee. Penny's Coffee shop specializes in high end coffees with sweet and savory crepes opening soon in Downtown Minneapolis and Linden Hills.
Laura Hlavak started designing clothing when she was 10 years old. Throughout her career she designed active wear for Rollerblade and NordicTrack before she started her own retail store and designed children's clothing. After running the store for 5 years, where she designed, manufactured and sold her clothes she took a break to have her third child and closed the store. She felt she needed to regroup and go a different direction. That direction was the competitive women's clothing market! Laura creates, manufactures and sells her designs directly to local boutiques and stores. Laura Hlavac Designs are currently in over 250 stores.
We have all heard of upcycling or re-using possessions in new creative ways but Julia Moss did it and turned it into a business and a retail shop in Uptown. Do you have plated silver in your buffet that you haul out every Thanksgiving or Christmas and beg the kids to polish so you can eat off it? Julia Moss did too until she found a way to powder coat it in fabulous colors that allow you to repurpose your family heirlooms in a way that you will use them for years to come and actually enjoy looking at them in your dining room. From a creative idea to a store front Julia Moss designs are a one of a kind way to bring your heirlooms back to life!
Nick Kosevich went from Town Talk Diner bartender to hospitalitarian to Minnesota maker. As a partner in Bittercube he helped create and launch the 8 flavors of Bittercube cocktail bitters. What started out as improving on the craft cocktail scene became a movement as they expanded the Bittercube brand identity of these products and helped refine and define the evolving craft cocktail movement in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Chad Gilyard was a food carney turned entrepreneur who saw so many great food products being produced but very few making it to supermarket shelves. How could he take the knowledge he learned about packaging and marketing and help food producers scale their products for the grocery store? Maybe if they collectively shared their ideas and brain space they could shorten the time to get to market. This was the genesis of his food distribution cooperative called Midwest Pantry.
Ryan Furness started his entrepreneurial career selling pencils from his school locker. A frustrated foodie who had a hard time finding his favorite local products, he began noodling on store locators and their platforms. He created the web site and store locator NearestYou to help answer the age old question, "Where can I find your products?"
Jennifer Cermak was trying on bathing suits in anticipation of her honeymoon. The experience left here in tears. Did trying on bathing suits have to be awful? Could she re-engineer the bathing suit shopping experience to make it fun and helpful and dare we say even fashionable? Hear how she did just that by opening Nani Nalu and eventually manufacturing her own bathing suit line for D-GG cup women called Jenna Sea.
Melissa Farris went from living in London and going to school to importing French medical grade essential oils and packaging them in her garage in Bloomington. Today her essential oils, Veriditas Botanicals, can be found in over 100 stores in Minnesota but also nation-wide. Melissa knows her organics and the importance of how you use and prescribe essential oils. Learn more about essential oils, their uses and how she was able to create and market her amazing Veriditas Botanicals.
When you think of pioneers in the restaurant business in Minnesota you think of Phil Roberts, Co-Founder and CEO of Parasole. Buca, Oceanaire, Manny's, Muffaletta, Mozza Mia, Burger Jones, Chino Latino and Figlio are all Parasole restaurant concepts. In this episode we revisit some of his successes and failures along the incredible path he has forged on our restaurant scene. Phil shares his unique idea generating process and even throws in a few travel stories as we talk about his company and his career.
Becky Sturm was from three generations of hairdressers when she decided she would pursue her passion and break out of the salon business and create new beauty products. From retail store to online website, Storm Sister Spatique was born. From creating a line of lipsticks to a 3-way beauty bar she has forged a path through the competitive beauty products industry by offering niche products that she has created as well as sourced in her online boutique.
Ryan Ott is has a big vision for crafting unique spaces, having founded Midwest Tiny Living to build Tiny Homes and Camping Pods. Through Ryan's ability to build and craft unique environments, he is helping people fulfill their big dreams of Tiny living, camping and traveling with their portable homes.
Tracy Dyer had a great job at Best Buy. On her corporate travels, she discovered women wanted fashionable laptop bags. She envisioned the perfect laptop bag but could not get anyone to manufacture her vision. In 2008, she took her father's advice, "don't die with the music still in you" and founded Urban Junket to create bags and totes for women. In this podcast the founder of Urban Junket, tells us how she got her start and what led her to start Maiden Minnesota, the woman maker shopping event.
On this episode of the Makers of Minnesota podcast, host Stephanie Hansen chats with Cathy Skinner, Minnesota Cup semi-finalist and creator of Thrivors, an individualized exercise and nutrition self-managed program on a mobile app. How did Cathy bring this app to market? What were the challenges? And what is it like to compete in the Minnesota Cup start-up competition?
On the debut episode of the Makers of Minnesota podcast, host Stephanie Hansen sits down with Gina Holman, founding partner of J. Carver Distillery -- a grain to glass micro-distillery located in Waconia, and makers of J Carver Spirits. Stephanie Hansen pulls back the curtain to find out how Gina helped grow this company.

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