Pioneering Women: Driving Minnesota’s Entrepreneurial Renaissance

On Centre-stage: Women Entrepreneurs from Minnesota

#MinnesotaEntrepreneurs #WomenInBusiness #EmpoweringEntrepreneurship

In the land of 10,000 lakes and boundless opportunities, Minnesota stands tall as a powerhouse in iron ore production, crafting the foundation for the steel-making industry. But its economic tapestry extends far beyond minerals – weaving a vibrant fabric of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Amidst the rugged landscapes and industrious spirit, a thriving ecosystem flourishes – nurturing the growth of women-led businesses. With each passing year, the state witnesses a blossoming cadre of female entrepreneurs, fuelled by a supportive network of organizations, programs, and funding avenues tailored to their unique needs.

Yet, it’s not just the iron will of its entrepreneurs that propels Minnesota forward. The state boasts of a formidable community of venture capitalists and angel investors, actually infusing the startup landscape with vital resources and financial backing.

From the depths of its mines to the heights of its entrepreneurial ventures, Minnesota’s diverse economy offers a wealth of opportunities for women to forge their paths and carve out their destinies.

In this landscape of innovation and ambition, the stage is set for women entrepreneurs to thrive and leave an indelible mark on Minnesota’s storied legacy.

Let us look at some enterprising women entrepreneurs in Minnesota.

> Sarah Breiner, Founder Principal, Breiner Law Firm, LLC

Sarah Breiner is the Founding Attorney and owner of Breiner Law Firm, which started in Atlanta in 2012, followed in 2017 by her second office in Eden Prairie, which now serves as headquarters. Incidentally, she is known as “The Legal Mama”!!

The law firm prides itself on providing a compassionate, personal approach to estate planning and small business legal support – for families with young children, new mothers, and small business owners. Her aim was to fill a hole in law practice, simplifying the legal experience for parents and providing women-focused employee policies, like paid maternity leave. Apart from law, she is a founding board member and president of Bold North Milk Bank, a non-profit that works to improve first-food equity through prenatal education, postpartum support, and pasteurized human donor milk for vulnerable infants. 

> Sarah Bridges, Founder & CEO, Bridges Consulting

Backed by 25+ years of experience, is the Founder and owner of Edina-based Bridges Consulting. She uses her expertise to ring in development, assessments, and services to boost organizational performance for clients.

Promoting a client-focused approach, takes pride in challenging and guiding leaders to grow and evolve to drive their organizational mission. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology and an MBA.

She is known for helping clients break through assumptions, discover their potential, and build cohesive teams. Before Bridges Consulting, she served as a senior executive in human resources with a Fortune 1000 company. A California transplant, her passion for helping the local community has led her to support Twin Cities non-profits including the North side Achievement Zone and the Guthrie Theatre.

> Ingrid Christensen, Founder & CEO, INGCO International

Ingrid Christensen is the Founder of INGCO International, a global translation and interpreting firm that provides equal access to information, regardless of the language. From Cargill to Zoom Video Communications, Inc. to the Minneapolis School Board – INGCO International in Minneapolis has been helping companies and community organizations increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in how they communicate and convey key information in more than 200 languages.

As the CEO of a global team where 70% of employees identify as ethnically diverse, she cultivates ‘inclusivity’ in a remote environment. Plus, she believes that by taking care of her team, the company takes good care of clients, and INGCO boasts a 65% referral rate. In 2023 she released her book – The Language of Trust.

> Mary Cleary, Founder & CEO, Studio501

Mary Cleary is an accountant who started her career with KPMG in San Francisco. She then moved into accounting roles with non-profits and recognized a broader opportunity to support mission-driven organizations.

In 2002, she launched Studio501 (previously Cleary Consulting Group), an accounting and fiscal management services firm for non-profits. It is unique that the Minneapolis agency serves more than 100 non-profit organizations across a variety of fields including – arts, social services, public policy, education, health, and environment. According to clients, they say she’s more than a consultant! She serves as a financial partner, understanding each organization’s mission and how to use their limited resources to make the biggest community impact.

> Gretchen Culver, Owner & Creative Director, Rocket Science

It is interesting that her event industry colleagues describe her as – “unflappable” and “innovative”. Gretchen Culver is Founder of Minneapolis-based Rocket Science Events, which designs and produces weddings, corporate events, galas, and experiences that have won international awards and been featured in print.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, she innovated again and launched – Minne Weddings to produce “micro-weddings,” a trend that persists as couples look for more affordable yet stylish options. Last year, she expanded the service, adding Windy Mini Weddings in Chicago.

Moreover, she didn’t stop at three: she launched another brand, Culver Creative, in 2021, providing coaching and consulting services for creative professionals.

> Mary Fallon, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Kidizen

Quite prominently, Mary Fallon and Co-founder Dori Graff were ahead of their time in 2014 when they launched Kidizen, an online resale marketplace for children’s clothing.

The Minneapolis-based startup was positioned to take full advantage of a second- hand apparel boom, driven by increased consumer interest in sustainable fashion. Coupled with an uptick in online commerce since the pandemic, Kidizen’s community of buyers and sellers touched 1 million members.

With her focus on brand strategy and innovation, Kidizen started partnering with major brands like Tea Collection. She also serves as a mentor to other Minnesota entrepreneurs through programs such as BETA. 


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