Archive | sunday spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Tanya Swanson of Premier Pet Lodge in Malmo

I am always thrilled when women-owned or mom-owned businesses reach out to me to be part of my Sunday Spotlight feature. To be able to shine the Sunday Spotlight on these businesses is always fun for me and an honor as well. The spirit, drive and determination of Minnesota women never ceases to amaze me and Tanya Swanson is one of those women.

Tanya and Mike Swanson have just opened a pet lodge near Mille Lacs Lake. Tanya is a veterinary technician who homeschools the couple’s four kids. The Swansons have also recently built a completely brand-new facility to board the pets of the Brainerd Lakes area.

Premier Pet Lodge

Premier Pet Lodge is the result of almost 20 years of hard work and big dreams for the Swanson family and Tanya has been a Certified Veterinary Technician for 14 years. She has years of experience working in the veterinary field, including The Minnesota Zoo, The Wildlife Rehab Center of MN, the MN DNR and a variety of veterinary clinics. She also has a B.S. in Conservation Biology. Mike is a Certified Medical Coder and also has years of experience in animal care. They have four fantastic kids who are excited to help out whenever they can as well.


The Premier Pet Lodge is committed to:

  • Respect, honesty and communication
  • Serving God, our family and our community, both human and animal
  • Making environmentally-conscious choices in our business
  • Continued professional growth and training
  • Investing in the dreams of others

Q: Tell us about your business. When did you start and how long you’ve been in business too.

Tanya: In January of this year we opened Premier Pet Lodge on our 40 acre property in Malmo, near the east side of Mille Lacs Lake. It was a labor of love that we began to pursue in October of 2015, when we visited the Small Business Development Center at Central Lakes College. I don’t know if we would have made it this far without their support! Once we had our business plan, projections and financing ready we built a brand-new facility from the ground up.

Premier Pet Lodge

Q: Share what attracted you to this business, and what you like most about it.

Tanya: I’ve been in the animal field for almost 20 years. I began with a degree in the field of Wildlife Conservation and worked in wildlife rehab and animal rescue through college. After graduation I decided I wanted to have a more hands-on approach to caring for animals and became a certified veterinary technician 12 years ago, working in a variety of animal-related positions. I loved my career…and then I started having babies of my own! Four babies later,  I found myself looking for a way to use my skills (which were a big part of my identity) and still be home to help my children learn and grow. I love that I’m able to pursue my passion for helping animals while providing for my family. It’s been really empowering.

Q:What has been your biggest business challenge with your business thus far?

Tanya: The biggest challenge I’ve had so far is learning to juggle all the aspects of business, caring for my home, homeschooling and finding time at the end of the day to unwind. Luckily I have an amazing husband who carries half the weight.

Premier Pet Lodge

Q:What business goals to do you have for 2017? 

Tanya: My business goals for 2017 are to put the finishing touches on our building and start to offer some new services and products that maybe aren’t readily available in other places! We love to use organic and natural products in our home and with our animals, and we try to extend that to the pet lodge as well. I have a real interest in nutrition and wellness for pets and I love to help owners find natural solutions to common health problems. Our ultimate goal for 2017 is to be busy enough that my husband can work from home with us.

Q: Which one your products (or services) are you favorite and why?

Tanya: We have a few really great organic and natural products coming for pets. I’d like to offer a small selection of really great products that I think every pet owner should have. We provide essential oil support to our guests if the owner is interested, which can help with everything from stress to pain. It’s been really fun to see the difference that can make. Like many moms, I’m a research nut.

Q: Tell us about your family.

Tanya: I’ve been married to my husband Mike for 12 years and we have four children….2 girls and 2 boys, ages 13 months to 9 years. We’ve homeschooled since pre-school and we love it. We have a fantastic homeschool “group” in our town and we spend many days learning together. We also have an amazing Bulldog/Rottweiler named Blue, a guinea pig, and two cats. All of our animals are rescues.

Premier Pet Lodge

Q: What advice do you want to share for moms/women in business?

Tanya: My best piece of advice is to lean on the support of people who really care about you for help when you need it. I’m surrounded by women who build me up, pray for me, and support me in whatever capacity I need. My grandma has owned her own business for many years as a designer, and she’s been a great example to me!

Q: Other mompreneurs are always curious how others juggle the work/life balance and you’ve added homeschooling to the mix! Any advice/tips for women running a business and raising a family?

Tanya: I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say I’ve got that balance totally perfected. I try to think in the long term and pray that it all evens itself out! I’m typing this I’m breastfeeding a baby who’s kicking the keyboard and listening to my 3 yr old tantrum while my husband folds the laundry. At the end of a week I look back and say, how did we do? Some weeks make me proud and some weeks make me cringe! I really depend on my girlfriends and my relationship with Jesus to get me through.

Q:What do you want readers of Mom Squad Central to know about your business?

Tanya: I would love the readers of Mom Squad to know that the pets who stay with us become part of our family. Our business is built on a desire to serve our community, and I believe we will do that in even bigger ways than I can imagine right now. Also, we do a monthly give-away of a BarkBox for one of the pets who stays with us each month!

Q: If you could pick one thing that you love the most about your business, what would it be?

Tanya: My favorite thing about our business is forming relationships with other people in our community! People love their pets so much, it’s so hard to leave them. We try to be that place where the pets feel safe.

Q:Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Linked-In?

Tanya: You can find us on and Twitter @premierpetlodge.

Q: If you could “bust out” and do ONE crazy thing in your lifetime (with no consequences) what would that be? 

Tanya: If I could do one thing, I’d pack my family up and travel the world for a whole year! I’ve always dreamed of “worldschooling” my kids and myself!

Q: If you had to choose one word that sums up your focus for 2017, what would it be?

Tanya: LOVE

Connect with Tanya and the Premier Pet Lodge at  (320) 372-2148 and  website

Sunday Spotlight: Tracy Watson from Nature’s Genesis

sunday spotlight

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be doing a Sunday Spotlight again! I love “shining the spotlight” on Lakes Area moms in business and it’s such an easy way for business to get a little free P.R! This Sunday I would like to introduce the Mom Squad readers to the lovely Tracy Watson of Nature’s Genesis. Tracy has a deep passion for life and also specializes and is certified and trained for Acne and Anti-Aging Treatments customized to produce visible results in every skin she treats. She also has a CTL Light that actually clears acne in 1⁄3 of the time of standard topical treatments. Welcome Tracy!

Narure's Genesis

1. Tell us about your business. When did you start and how long you’ve been in business too.

Nature’s Genesis started in 2009 as an online store.


2. Share what attracted you to this business, and what you like most about it.

I love beauty…both inside and out…I love meeting new people. I love the close bonds that have formed with some of my clients…tears and laughter are an integral part….


3. What has been your biggest business challenge with your business thus far?

Convincing & educating women of the importance of taking care of their skin both at home and with a Licensed Skin Care professional. We all live busy lives and need to take a little time for ourselves. I’ve told my family if I could go back and do some things over again, I would have taken more time for myself each week. I would have developed a hobby, taken lessons, went for a massage and a facial treatment. It is important for our children to see that Mom loves and values herself enough to take care of herself.


4. What business goals to do you have for 2015?

Growing my business and clientele, become known in the community for amazing customer service and working with moms on how enhancing the beauty they already possess.


5. Which one your products (or services) are you favorite and why?

Yikes that is a hard one…I won’t be caught without my ageless and vit c serums…these are an absolute must oh and the Cucumber Hydration Toner that is like a 8 oz glass of water for your skin:) I absolutely love the lines I carry…Our products are priced to be accessible and affordable to all women who desire beautiful, healthier younger looking skin. For services I love the enzyme peels they are gentle yet effective and are customized for each individual. The testimonies from the clients bring a smile to my face J


6. Tell us about your family.

I so love my family…I’ve been married for 29 years to a wonderful man; yes we’ve walked through some hard times and beautiful times together and both have produced such a love for each other. He is my best friend and soul mate. I have 3 grown sons, 2 “daughter­in­loves” and one beautiful grandbaby. My daughter­in­loves are very artsy and creative. One is a professional photographer in the area (you will see some of her photos on my website and blog) and the other one is super creative in every aspect of life. My boys have led worship and played in some of the area churches in our region…there is nothing like a mother’s love for her boys:)


7. What advice do you want to share for moms/women in business?

Keep pursuing what’s in your heart to do. Take chances…Dare to dream….you never know where it might take you


8. Name a personal quirk you wish you didn’t have (interrupting, eye rolling, etc.)

I blush…


9. What do you and your family do for fun and recreation?

In the summertime you will find us out on the boat…I love to go for walks…play miniature golf. Winter time; we are wanting to take up snowshoeing we will see if that happens this year…I hate being cold:)


11. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Linked­In?

Readers can connect with me via the Nature’s Genesis website or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


12. If you could do anything for a living, and money was no object, what would you do?

I would travel and speak to others on the topic of family.


13. If you could “bust out” and do ONE crazy thing in your lifetime (with no consequences)?

What would that be? It would to be totally free and confident to talk and be myself with everyone I meet!


14. If you had to choose one word to describe your focus for 2014, what would it be?




Tracy’s passion for making women feel Beautiful can truly be seen through her work.
She has an unique ability to enhance the beauty you already possess and to diminish
some of the less flattering features to ensure that you feel your absolute prettiest no
matter the occasion! You can connect with Tracy via the Nature’s Genesis website or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Visit Tracy at J. Amelia’s Wellness Spa in Pequot Lakes as well!

Special Deal for Mom Squad Readers!

Sugar Plum Facial Treatment w/Holistic Microdermabrasion – $45 for the Mom Squad Followers. Be sure and mention this blog post and sale price to receive this special price:


Make your list and check it twice, our Sugar Plum Treatment is both delightful and nice!

Tis’ the season for soft, glowing skin!  This treatment features a sweet Holiday Berry Enzyme and a rich Vanilla Clove Hydrating Mask.  These fruit enzymes gently exfoliate while infusing the skin with antioxidants and the Vanilla Clove Hydrating Mask locks in moisture and intensely hydrates dry, winter weathered skin

Make your day Beautiful.

Sunday Spotlight Brainerd BizSpace CoWorking

Sunday Spotlight

Happy Sunday everyone! Time for another Sunday Spotlight! I love doing this feature, and it continues to get great views and reviews from our readers. I think people like reading about other people, especially people in their own community. Do you know of a local business that could benefit from some great local promotion? If so, send ’em my way!

This Sunday I am excited to share this amazing business that is the brainchild of a dear friend of mine. Scott Hall and I have been buddies for years and I absolutely admire his tenacity, drive, innovative thinking and community building mentality. He and his wife Tessa have created a much-needed business option for entrepreneurs who need sporadic office or meeting space without the burden of a full office space rental  commitment. “Co-working” and “Collaborative Workspace” are terms I guarantee you will be hearing more in the coming months. Check out Brainerd BizSpace!

Tell us about your business. When did you start and how long you’ve been in business too.

Brainerd BizSpace promotes the idea of co-working. It is a place where small businesses can come together to collaborate, share contacts and ideas, and have an office space to call their own.  Sometimes it can be challenging to work from home for a small business. Brainerd BizSpace offers dedicated office space to rent on a monthly basis, or desk space to rent on an hourly basis. We also have a conference room that seats 10 people comfortably available to rent on an hourly basis.  Brainerd BizSpace officially became a LLC in November, 2013. We are located in the lower level of BlackRidge Bank, in suites 7&8.

Share what attracted you to this business, and what you like most about it.

Brainerd BizSpace has been an idea I’ve had for a few years now. I was just unsure how to put it all to fruition.  I finally decided that I should just ‘go for it’ and put some extra time and effort into this idea, rather than just talking and dreaming about it. I happened to discuss the idea with the Vice President of BlackRidge Bank. He loved the concept, and offered the lower level of the bank, as the previous tenants happened to be moving out. It was made to be! What I love most about this business is the satisfaction of helping small businesses get up and going and helping them grow. Through promoting the co-working idea, they can share contacts and ideas with each other to help each other grow and be successful.  

What has been your biggest business challenge with your business thus far?

The biggest challenge for Brainerd BizSpace has been the start-up. We are using our own personal finances, and trying to start-up everything without taking out a business loan. We have also found that spreading the word about Brainerd BizSpace has been somewhat difficult. Facebook and Social Media has been very helpful, but we would like to go further with it, and reach more people in the community. Advertising is expensive, so it can be a challenge to find cheap, effective avenues to advertise Brainerd BizSpace.

What business goals to do you have for 2013/2014?  

A goal for Brainerd BizSpace in 2014 is to fill all of the dedicated office space, and fill some of the desk space on an hourly basis. We’d also like to advertise our conference room rental. It’s a perfect space for an At Home Business to hold a launch party, or for someone looking to host a party, but doesn’t have space in their home to do so. It’s also nice for churches to hold council meetings, etc. Small businesses may holding teleconferences there, and we do have Powerpoint capabilities in the room.

Which one your products (or services) are you favorite and why?

What my favorite service we offer is the dedicated office spaces that we offer people at an affordable rate for people to be able to start their own business.

Tell us about your family.

Our family consists of myself, my wife, Tessa, and our new daughter, Maren who is 8 months old. She is our pride and joy! I’m still working full-time at Lakes Area Habitat For Humanity as the ReStore manager, so I rely on Tessa to take care of administrative aspects of Brainerd BizSpace. In my free time, I like to be with family, and go hunting and fishing.

What advice do you want to share for moms/women in business?


If you are a home business or service provider, I know how hard it can be to conduct business from home, especially if you need to meet with clients or need some time to focus and concentrate on a task. The coworking and collaborative space option at BizSpace allows your business to have a professional/physical office space without the commitment and overhead of a full-time office. Coworking is really picking up in popularity and is very prevalent in the Twin Cities with places like CoCo MSP. Coworking is just as it sound, sharing an office space with other business professionals and sharing the costs and resources within that space. That includes meeting rooms or conference rooms. BizSpace has a great meeting place and for those who need to conduct business, have a group meeting or even host as class (like the upcoming Intro To Blogging Class on April 17th)

Name a personal quirk you wish you didn’t have (interrupting, eye rolling, etc.)

I wish that I was better at Time Management. I am one of those people who think that something should not take long and I always try to put way too many things on my ‘to do’ list for one day.

What do you or your family do for fun and recreation.

I personally enjoy doing activities outside. Hunting, fishing, and working on cars are a few of my favorites. For fun with family, I enjoy each day I have with Maren and Tessa. We have been through so much over the years to get to finally being a family. I really treasure the times when I come home from work and Tessa and Maren are there to greet me.

Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Linked-In?

Brainerd BizSpace is on Facebook. I am personally on LinkedIn. We haven’t explored the world of twitter yet!

If you could do anything for a living, and money was no object, what would you do?

I would want to run BizSpace full-time and just volunteer when I have time.


If you had to choose one word to describe your focus for 2014, what would it be?


Sunday Spotlight: Brainerd Lakes Women of Today

sunday spotlight

I have always admired the  Brainerd Lakes Area Women of Today and over the years have had many friends who would attest to the quality and effectiveness of this group. Lucky for me, buddy Becky Stock stepped forward and offered to share some details and background on this amazing organization.

Brainerd Lakes Women of Today

by Becky Stock

We have been a volunteer organization in the Brainerd area since 2003. We are made up of women of all different ages and backgrounds, with one common goal, to make our community a better place. We host our own personal fundraisers to help out other organizations in our area as well as help with other group’s events.

My favorite thing about this group is the wonderful women and friendships. When I moved to Brainerd, I didn’t know anyone. Once I joined Women of Today I met all the amazing members as well as other members in the community through volunteering. The women in this organization are some of my best friends, I can count on them through thick and thin. I’ve also had the opportunity to make some wonderful friends across the state at conventions and meetings.


Our biggest challenge is time, finding new members who have time or are willing to make time to help out at events. Everyone has families or jobs or something that holds them back from volunteering or getting more involved. Our organization is great because we only ask members to be as involved as they are able to be. We want members to volunteer, but we also know that families and careers are important too, we just want to help better ourselves and our community. Our motto is “Having Fun, Making a Difference in Our Community”, and that is truly what we do. Nothing we do seems like work, because we are always having such a good time doing it.

My favorite project is personally the annual Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction that we host in June. We auction off local men and women with prize packages to raise money for Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity. This is such a fun project and 2014 will be our 10th annual and we are looking into some fun, new ideas.


We also hold personal enrichment events, socials and membership nights where we hang out as a group and do something fun or something that teaches us something about ourselves. We’ve done the high ropes challenge at Clearwater Forest for many years, which is great for positive reinforcement and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. We hold potlucks with personal enrichment DVD’s to help better ourselves and we do fun things as a group with our families, such as mini golf, tubing, go for supper or coffee.

Our focus for 2014 is to get current members more involved and to bring on some fresh new members with great new ideas. We are always looking for new women to spice things up and new projects that will be fun and help bring awareness to the organizations we support in this area. At one point we were down to 6 members, but currently have 28 lovely ladies that volunteer their time and we’d love to add more to that number. We just want to help make the Brainerd Lakes Area a great place to live and visit and help people here that may not have the means to do so themselves. I am truly lucky to be a part of such an amazing group of women.


Our website is currently under construction as we look for someone who is willing to update this for a free or very reasonable price. If you ever want to see what we are up to, you are more than welcome to check out our Facebook page. I encourage everyone to check out our calendar, for upcoming events, and our blog, with additional event details and other important posts.  You can follow us on Twitter and join our group on Facebook as well!  We look forward to meeting you!


Becky Stock, President

Brainerd Lakes Area Women of Today

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