I met Katie Ryan-Anderson at the North Dakota Bloggers & Writers Workshop in June and I was excited when she responded to my invitation to submit a #PrairiePeople guest post.
I discover a lot of cool things in my wanderings, but the fact is, most of my tips come from residents and readers like you, since you know your region better than anyone. And when a resident and reader just happens to be a writer as well, that’s even better!
Katie will be bringing you the story behind Wildflowers, Inc., a sweet little shop in LaMoure, ND. Katie herself lives in Marion, ND with her husband Levi and their two little boys. She’s originally from Omaha, NE and writes for North Dakota Living Magazine. You might also recognize her name from bylines in the Jamestown Sun.
Here’s Katie’s look at the woman behind Wildflowers, Inc. Enjoy!
On a central North Dakota dairy farm, this woman found inspiration in the “udderly” un-beautiful.
Tesa Klein of LaMoure owns and operates Wildflowers, Inc. Tesa’s talent is taking what’s old and up-cycling it into something no one within 100 miles can refuse. Upcycling is a hobby now part of pop-culture, thanks in part, to social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest. But Pinterest wasn’t even a preemie when Tesa gave birth to her shop about 12 years ago.
Tesa grew up in Adrian, ND, a town of about 50 people 30 miles southeast of Jamestown. Her “traditional North Dakota childhood” included milking cows and showing cattle. She competed across the Upper Midwest, taking pride in the presentation. Part of the fun, she said, was decorating her booth, wearing the red shirts her mom sewed and painting udders with foundation and blush.
She grew up with lots of love, pride and style, but not so much money. Tesa laughs about what she calls K-Mart compliments – girls at school admired what she wore and never knew its budget-friendly origins.
“Mom was always crafty, so I just learned from her,” Tesa said, of her mother, Pat.
By “crafty,” what Tesa means is a professional creative. Pat created items to haul and sell at craft and vendor shows. She even ran her own shop in Adrian, selling items and serving specialty suppers.
If Tesa learned craftiness from her mom, she learned the art of power tools from her dad, Loren. As a teenager, Tesa worked alongside her dad’s crew, framing barns, pouring concrete and carving lodge poles.
She opened Wildflowers, Inc., the flower shop in 2003.
“Right off the bat it was good. Then it just really, really grew,” she said.
It grew so much that she closed it in 2011. It’s a decision Tesa said is the second-best of her life. The first? Marrying her cowboy, Kelly Klein.
This fall, Tesa’s already booked three shows, including her own. Visitors drive a gravel road south and east of LaMoure to visit Tesa and her shop. The 42 ft. x 30 ft. shop, located 7 miles from the nearest gas station, isn’t exactly adjacent to a Maurice’s or Old Navy. But people travel there anyway – some from as far away as 100 miles.
Q&A with Tesa Klein, Wildflowers Inc. of LaMoure, ND
What’s your personal style?
“Cowboy-gypsy. That means big patterns, bright colors, feathers, fur and maybe a little bling. It also means juxtaposing what’s typically feminine with what’s considered masculine. I’ve always had a personal style. Even when I was 10, I’d wear 12 necklaces all at the same time.”
What does it take to lead a creative lifestyle?
“Flexibility. Open weekends. A supportive spouse. Aggression. And a sense for business. If I’m going to create these pieces, I also need to create an event, advertise it, keep my style consistent, etc.”
What does your creative space look like?
“Creative chaos. I feel like it’s a waste of time to clean it up.”
How do you keep yourself motivated?
“I have no set routine. I’m loose everywhere. In the morning, I might have coffee, I might not have coffee. I might workout, I might not workout. I’m a creative. I can’t set a schedule.”
What’s your biggest regret?
“Not finishing college. I started at Valley City State University and then tried Jamestown College (now University of Jamestown). I considered veterinary school and then accounting. That’s what I quit. I knew I didn’t want to sit in an office the rest of my life.”
What’s your biggest inspiration?
“I like to say creativity is in my ‘Jeans.’ My middle name is Jean, as is my mom, Patricia Jean Rode. Her mother, my grandmother, is the late Jean Miller. She was eccentric, fashion-forward and marched to the beat of her own drum. She used to quilt for the wagon train.
My Grandma Doris Rode inspired me too. She had a knack for sewing, baking and making do without much. My first auction sales were with her and my mom. They’d always make me carry everything!”
All photos in this article are provided by Tesa Klein.
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The #PrairiePeople, #PrairiePlaces project is sponsored in part by a grant from North Dakota Tourism. All opinions are my own, always.