Steier recognized as Blue Earth Chamber’s Rising Star
Becki Steier celebrated her first anniversary of being in business on Blue Earth’s Main Street with the notification of having been selected as the recipient of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce’s Rising Star Award.
Her one year anniversary was actually this past September, and her notification of the award just came recently. And it was big surprise, she says.
“I am humbled by it,” Steier says. “I never expected any kind of an award for my business, I just like to do what I do, and do what I can for the community.”
What she did was to open her own graphic design business in the fall of 2016 called Becki Steier Studio, LLC, or BS. Studio, for short.
It was a bit of a roundabout trip to get to that point, however, Steier says.
“I lived in the Twin Cities for six years and went to college for graphic design,” she explains. “And I was working at the same time.”
Steier worked at Daytons, which became Marshall Fields, in the brassiere area in the lingerie department.
“Yes,” she says. “I was the bra salesgirl. After that I worked for Kohls two years, setting up displays in several of their stores. My first day on the job was on 9/11 (Sept. 11, 2001), and we were all sent home because of the fear of more terrorist attacks.”
But, from there she was headhunted by the Sara Lee Corporation to go to work for them creating store displays of bras. Particularly one brand of bra.
While Sara Lee (now owned by Hillshire Brands) was known for their baked goods, they had bought up a variety of other types of companies over the years. One of those was a lingerie company that included Playtex, Bali and Hanes intimate apparel.
“I set up displays all over Wisconsin, in Rochester, and six or seven stores in the Twin Cities,” she says. “So I was a city girl for a while.”
But, it was a lot of travel and she decided the cities might not be for her, especially since she did not want to travel as much, and try to buy her own home.
“Housing is expensive in the Twin Cities, and I missed working in the art industry,” she adds. “So I decided to come home to Blue Earth.”
She worked for nine years for Bob Bromeland Publishing, both as a graphic artist and eventually a manager.
“I learned a lot,” she says. There is a big difference between a design firm and a publishing house. I?had other duties. I liked working with the customers and going to trade shows, but I wanted have the opportunity for more creativity.”
So she went to work for Blue Earth Graphic as their graphic designer. However, she kept thinking about doing something on her own.
“I had a few clients over the years I was always doing freelance work for, to give me a customer base,” she says. “Some of them I had never even met in person. So I finally decided to start my own business.”
Steier knew she could open it in her own home, but she decided it would be better both for her and the community if she could be in a downtown building.
She talked to Faribault County Development Corporation and came up with a business plan. Then she talked to Jim Pollard who owned an available store front on Main Street.
Pretty soon she was ready to open her BS. Studio.
“There was a lot of room in this place, so I thought about what all I could do, especially what would benefit people in the community,” she says. “I talked to Jim (Pollard) about having an art gallery in the building and he was interested in that and supported the idea.”
So, Steier has a lot of local and area artists’ work on display and for sale in her store.
“It spread by word of mouth out in the community and around the area,” she says. “It is on commission so I do get a fee, but only if it sells.”
Sales have been pretty good, she adds. She swaps the art around every once in a while to keep things fresh, and has added new items as well.
“Art is an investment and it takes a lot of talent to create this work,” Steier explains. “This is not a Walmart framed print. I?love we are able to bring the work of these talented people to the community.”
Steier also has sponsored some art classes, and has plans to expand into more classes, especially for youth.
“I am working with (retired BEA art teacher) Linda Wells about doing some paint and watercolor classes, especially for young people,” she says. “I also am starting to have some pottery classes with Holly Stevermer, two a week starting in January. She will also have a knitting class on Feb. 5 and 8.”
Steier herself has been teaching crocheting, and has a crochet class for beginners on Jan. 22, and one for advanced beginners which will be on Jan. 29.
One reason for the class is she sells some nicer than usual yarn at her store.
“You can’t buy yarn anywhere in the county, except here,” she says. “And this a much nicer yarn than you can get in other places like Walmart. It is from Canada I am the first place in Minnesota to carry it.”
Her yarn sales have taken off and Steier says she is trying to get people, young and old, interested in crocheting.
She has even started an “Afghan Challenge.” People sign up to crochet an afghan over a year, by crocheting one line of yarn for each day of the year, with the color determined by the temperature that day.
“I have created 10 color spectrums they can use, depending on what they like,” she says. “I thought I might have 10, maybe 15 tops, people sign up, but I have over 30 who are doing it.”
Steier says she wants her store to be considered an art center. Graphic design, paintings, pottery and knitting and crocheting are all types of art work, she feels.
“I believe in working hard, and I believe in community service,” Steier says. “Bringing art to the community is a good thing, I feel, and I am happy to be involved with it.”
Steier will receive her Rising Star Award at the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet on Friday night, Jan. 26, at Hamilton Hall.
She will be having Jason Bonnema, of Thrivent Financial, do the introduction of her at the banquet.
“The whole thing is still quite a surprise, but I am honored by it, too,” Steier says. “And thankful.”