Small Business Profile: Jessica Moriarty and Mollie Windmiller of LAB - Minneapolis
Hi Jessica and Mollie! Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Jessica and Mollie both grew up in Minnesota, and reside in Minneapolis. Mollie lives in South Minneapolis with her husband and two girls, Lidia and Edie - If they aren’t working on their latest house project, they are visiting the newest breweries, museums and donut shops around the city. Jessica has a bachelorette pad in Uptown Minneapolis with her cat Lu, and her creative touch is seen throughout - she is a sucker for local goods, and is always on the hunt for the best wings in town.
What are your backgrounds (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
Mollie Windmiller grew up in Stillwater, MN and attended Macalester College in St. Paul, MN – after college her first job was at a small advertising agency in downtown Minneapolis. She had the itch to seek adventures outside of Minnesota and moved to Boulder, Colorado to enjoy the mountains then found herself living and working in Laramie, Wyoming at a print shop where she biked to work every day and enjoyed the outdoors to the fullest. A former client from the Minneapolis advertising agency gave her a call and wanted to hire her as their Marketing Director in Sarasota, FL – An opportunity she couldn’t pass up - she went from New Balance tennis shoes and biking to work to high heels and a suit every day – but she loved the challenge of growing a start-up luxury boutique real estate company from the ground up that was now affiliated with a world renowned brand, Sotheby’s International Realty. After a year in Sarasota the business was awarded the Minnesota market and moved back home to MN – she was thrilled to be back. A couple of years later her passion for design and working with businesses motivated her to start Windmiller Design Group – and Sotheby’s Int’l Realty became her first client and they launched Artful Living Magazine, with Mollie as the Creative Director. 10 years later Windmiller Design Group is still going strong as a small creative agency in Minneapolis and she adores and admires all of her clients and the incredible brands she works with. LAB was launched in 2014, which fueled her love for connecting with people and collaborating with like-minded businesses and creatives.
Jessica Moriarty grew up in Eagan, MN. She attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN and received a degree in Psychology. While she was interested in Psychology, her favorite classes were always art related courses. Jessica worked for a home care company after graduation and began working towards her Masters for Counseling Psychology part time at Saint Mary’s University. She never felt fulfilled with her job or even her studies and was continually looking for that “dream job”. After much consideration, Jessica decided to take the leap of faith and change her career path. She ended up working with a local interior designer and worked part time at a local women’s clothing boutique. Jessica soon realized that with her love of design and passion for working with others, she wanted to open her own home decor store, Prime and Polish. After months of planning, researching, writing a business plan, pop-up events, she opened the doors to Prime and Polish in May of 2013. It was a dream come true. Having the store was an incredible experience but after almost 2 years Jessica decided to close the doors. Since LAB had launched she soon realized that there was really only enough time and energy for one and she made the decision to focus on LAB. While it was bittersweet to close Prime and Polish, it was one of the best decisions she made. LAB has allowed her to do everything she loves; connect with people, design (curating the space for each LAB), and mostly work with inspiring businesses and local creatives. In addition to LAB, she also works at a local creative agency, KNOCK as a digital strategist.
What is LAB and what led you to create it?
Creativity resides within everyone - it just takes the right atmosphere to unleash it. Our creative workshops will do just that — LAB offers a wide variety of creative explorations from Calligraphy, Watercolor, Weaving, along with business workshops from SEO, Legal, Accounting, Instagram LAB and more. Regardless of what you are learning, each LAB offers a creative atmosphere that is visually pleasing and inspirational in itself. With each LAB you’ll have the opportunity to spend time with people who share the same yearning for learning and desire to create, connect and be inspired. LAB serves as the environment to bring the community together to create, connect and collaborate in the Twin Cities.
Jessica and Mollie began their adventure as 2 creatives offering different types of design services. With a passion for interior design, Jessica was opening a home décor store – and Mollie was helping her build her website. They both saw a need and desire in the Minneapolis community to offer a place for people to come together and create – to learn new skills – and be inspired by their surroundings. With the knowledge they both shared in design it was the perfect pair to launch creative workshops that offer a place to create, connect and collaborate.
Our mission statement is summed up in 3 words: Create. Connect. Collaborate.
Could you tell us more about the workshops and events at LAB?
Our current creative workshops are: Leather, Watercolor, Weaving, Photography, Calligraphy, and more to come soon! Our current business workshops are: Accounting, Legal, SEO, Instagram, Finance, Media, and more to come. We collaborate with experienced instructors to teach each workshop, and we host the events at LAB, making it a fun, inspirational experience. We also curate private events for corporations and individuals offering personalized creative and business workshops.
Why is collaboration important to you?
LAB wouldn’t exist without collaborating with the many talented instructors for each workshop. We all have our own gifts and talents, which is why we collaborate with other people and businesses to promote one another and ultimately produce something better than if we did it on our own.
Why did you create The Collective?
On April 28, this will be our 3rd annual event for The Collective. Prior to launching The Collective, we hosted a Makers Mixer LAB at the Shinola store in Minneapolis - essentially, it was a meet your Instagram crush event where many creatives from the Twin Cities came together to hang out at Shinola, and meet other like minded individuals. This is where we talked to many people about the challenges they faced as local artists and small business owners and finding events that attract their ideal demographic and promote them effectively. We felt it aligned with our mission to support and promote as many local creatives by launching a pop-up that promoted all of the vendors effectively on social media leading up to the event through styling custom photos of each business, additionally, they also live on our website for one full year. It has been a great success the first 2 years, and going into our 3rd year we had an overwhelming response of interested vendors. Not only is The Collective an experience that allows you to shop local, but also in true LAB fashion, it offers an educational aspect as well by having speaker sessions throughout the day of local business owners and creatives sharing their different experiences and passions.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
Making every day inspirational through design. We are given the opportunity to promote local businesses, offer creative and educational experiences, host events at our space - and we are passionate about doing it all in a way that offers inspiration through design - through our own brand and marketing, styling photos, designing our studio space, creating handouts at the events, setting the tables for each workshop, social media, and more. We are driven by beautiful design.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with LAB?
We have so many ideas - and so little time! LAB is not a full time job for either of us, and sometimes we are not able to do everything we want to do right away - however, all in good time, and we are so grateful for our team that allows us to keep the daily to do’s in check.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
Having other women to support you offers a sounding board, your cheering section, and your team to help you achieve something great, along with the comfort in knowing they are there to lean on when needed.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
- Wit & Delight / Kate Arends
- Golden Rule Collective/ Erin Duininck
- Ashley Mary Art /Ashley Mary
- Girl Friday / Carly Van Veldhuizen
- Mae Mae & co / Megan Gonzalez
- Hooked Calligraphy / Clair Daley
- Smoothills Weaving / Mandi Smethells
- Melissa Oholendt Photography / Melissa Oholendt
What have you learned from creating your own business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
Define your core values and stick to them. When new opportunities arise it makes it easier to grow when you ask if it is within your core values, it also makes it easier to know when to say no to those items that don’t align.
Do you have any resources that have been helpful to you that we should know of?
- Not a plug here, but we fully benefit from learning from the LAB for Business workshops that are offered and connecting with the wonderful instructors that teach them!
- Wunderlist is our best friend when managing to-do lists with our team.
- Google calendar - a beautifully color coordinated schedule of daily events happening at LAB
How do you manage your time?
We have a detailed calendar that includes events, meetings and peoples schedules along with weekly meetings always at the same time to make sure we are checking in with our team and checking off our to do lists.
How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?
Turn to those that support you, and share those doubts with them - you are not alone. Your support group will pick you back up and help you work through it, and provide encouragement and ideas to put you back on track.
Also, remind yourself that Instagram is a wonderful inspirational resource for business, design, strategy and so much more - but it’s not real life...seeing everything that looks so perfect can easily allow you to compare yourself to others and their life...but it’s never the full story. You are you. And keep being you. And be the best you.
What are you trying to learn right now?
We are trying to learn how to include self-care into our daily to dos. There are so many things to do in a day, and we feel like that is the first thing to be knocked down to the bottom of the priority list.
What are some of your favorite places in Minneapolis?
The LynHall, Hewing Hotel, Alma Café, Martina, Spyhouse, Hazel & Rose