South Dakota leads the nation in girl power (oh, and the fastest growing rate of female entrepreneurs).

More women are taking the leap into business ownership across the nation. In a recent Keloland article, Casey Wonnenberg stated that the rate of women entrepreneurs is “growing at a percentage at least twice that of men.” Yesssss.

The Brookings community, in particular, offers many resources and opportunities to entrepreneurs.

Jennifer Quail, director of entrepreneur support at the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, assists entrepreneurs at various stages of their journey through business plan reviews, brainstorming sessions, connection building and programming.

Since the beginning of 2017, BEDC has engaged with 94 aspiring individuals. Females make up 51 percent, while males represent the remaining 49 percent. However, these numbers might not reflect the total entrepreneurial/start-up community of Brookings as BEDC does not necessarily engage with each individual.

Due to Quail’s position switching to full-time this year, more programs and resources have surfaced, giving even more opportunity to pursue economic growth.

In addition to the equipment, physical space and programming available to entrepreneurs, Quail also facilitates “collisions of people,” or connection building between community members.

Shop owner Kirsten Gjesdal agrees that connections are vital to a thriving environment.

“Being an entrepreneur is very isolating,” said Gjesdal. However, Gjesdal takes advantage of the “big support system” in Brookings, including the Enterprise Institute, BEDC and Masterminds groups. During her business start up, “everything that went in and out of this building was my doing,” said Gjesdal. That support system has helped her take a step back and work on her business, rather than in her business.

Gjesdal started The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. in June of 2015, and has since bought a building and expanded into a new location in downtown Brookings.

We know that pursuing entrepreneurial ventures isn’t all glitter and roses, so we’ve gathered advice from fellow entrepreneurs to help you along:

“Continue to challenge the status quo.” Business is ever-evolving—roll with it!

-Jennifer Quail, BEDC

“Raise your hand.” There a ton of resources available to you—there’s no need to recreate the wheel.

-Jennifer Quail, BEDC

“Talk to everybody about your idea.” Entrepreneurial ventures seem to conjure up fear of failure—use that support system to keep your spirits up.

-Kirsten Gjesdal, Carrot Seed Kitchen Co.

“Take care of yourself.” Pursuing dreams can take a lot out of you. Don’t let your health and mindset suffer because of it!

-Kirsten Gjesdal, Carrot Seed Kitchen Co

“Do your homework. Write your business plan, use the right resources that are FREE and available to you right in Brookings, and be as prepared as you can possibly be. Once you set those beginning expectations appropriately it’s easier to roll with the punches later on. Other advice would be to save money for living expensese should your business not generate the income you need right away. Some great advice we got early on was to “grow until it hurts, then think of hiring/expanding/taking the next step.”

-Carrie Kuhl, Hitch Studio

“Through the BEDC, we also qualified for the Downtown Retail Acceleration Grant, which helped us tremendously as we expanded our business. Other things that were helpful for Hitch Studio when starting up in Brookigs were all the networking opportunities like Connect 2140 and Sub40 Social groups, 1 Million Cups, and both Carrie and I are part of Masterminds groups. We both serve on community boards and have met a lot of people through our downtown involvement. We also found affordable rent and retail space in our vibrant downtown Brookings. We slowly stepped up our square footage until we eventually moved into another location on Main Ave., which offered affordable costs as well. If it weren’t for the supportive nature of other businesses in Brookings, we may not be where we are today.”

-Renee Halgerson, Hitch Studio


We hope that this blog offered a sense of self-empowerment and tenacity that will push you to pursue your dreams, and all of that cheesy stuff. 🙂


*The BEDC offers free services to aspiring and current entrepreneurs including business plan reviews, providing resources, facilitating connections with other business personale and programming. Email Jennifer Quail at to schedule a meeting.

Carrie Kuhl and Renee Halgerson


Jennifer Quail

Kirsten Gjesdal

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