By Kelly Kabatoff

In 2004 my father approached me with an offer, would I be interested in moving to Denver, CO to help him launch a new business?  While the idea of getting into the printer cartridge business didn't necessarily excite me, the chance of working for my dad and learning first hand the ins and outs of starting and running a business was something I couldn't pass up.  The next 3 years proved to be an adventure, one not free of challenges, but it was also a business education that, I would argue, rivaled that of any MBA program around. 

While my first experience in family business started in Colorado, my dad's started right here in northern Minnesota, a place that I am discovering has a uniquely rich history in family entrepreneurship. So much so, that we were inspired to launch a series of stories of family business duos.  In honor of Father's Day in June we decided to start with a father/son duo, Brad & Jeremy Olson from Salon Brad in Grand Rapids, MN.  

How long have you been working together?

J: About 8 1/2 years.

Whose idea was it to go into business together?

B: Since the salon had been established for some years it seemed the obvious right decision for Jeremy to join us!

J: It was probably mostly my mom (and I suppose my dad as well) that supported my decision of moving home from Tulsa, OK and getting into hair and helping me get on my feet by offering me a job at the salon. The initial idea was to "get a little experience under my belt" before hitting the road to either Chicago or Minneapolis. But after moving home and finding the love of my life and re-falling in love with northern MN - 8 1/2 years later I'm still working with good ole' Pop

If you could tell a room full of potential entrepreneurs one thing what would it be?

B: Love what you do!  It's what gets you through the mundane and "dry" times of a career!

J: Do what you love. I remember as a kid talking to my dad about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I honestly cannot remember what I wanted to be at the time, but my dad said, "No matter what you end up choosing to do in life, make sure you love your work. Love what you do. There is nothing worse than dreading going to work everyday." He then proceeded to say, "I love what I do. I can't imagine doing anything else." I am a proud, second-generation hairstylist. 

What is one thing people don't know about you?

B: I hate shopping for clothes!

J: Another passion of mine is music. I play guitar and lead worship at our local church.

Why do business in northern Minnesota?

B: Doing business in northern Minnesota seemed like the best decision being that it's where I grew up and having such deep roots in the community.

J: Having been born and raised in the Grand Rapids area, it wasn't until I left home for college that I truly began to appreciate what was here. The values; the lifestyle; the pace; the simplicity; the Minnesota nice. Today, I believe Grand Rapids is on the brink of a renaissance that will draw people far and wide. Our community is filled with vibrant, creative professionals who enjoy a personal experience that's hard to find in big cities. We feel fortunate at our salon to offer the most relevant techniques and trends in hair. We are passionate to bring our community the very best.

What Minnesota business owners do you look up to?

B: I can honestly say watching Christina and Erik Andersen through the process of building this INCREDIBLE building, the decisions that they've made, where to cut costs, and where to spare no expense has impressed me to no end! These two are truly wise beyond their years and Kim and I feel extremely blessed to have them in our lives! They are AMAZING business owners that I feel so fortunate to have as friends and fellow business owners that are SO extremely helpful with ideas and are GREAT "sounding boards." I would also like to mention Jon and Pam Miner for their encouragement and support to pursue our next phase of business. Their words of advice and wisdom have proved true many times over!

J: I'd have to say I'm inspired by local business owners I know personally. I love hearing stories of those that have been in business for years; that have experienced the up's and down's. I'm enamored at the businesses in our community that have been passed down through generations. The owners I'm probably most inspired by though, are those that are visionaries. With that, it may not come as a surprise that Christina and Erik Andersen are a significant inspiration. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be in company with them.