It was a BREW-tiful day for Cobbers at the Concordia Takeover Day event organized by Emerging Prairie’s StartupBREW Fargo as it welcomed two Cobber entrepreneurs, Emily Graupman ’23 and Delson Saintal ’15, to speak about their experiences as business owners.
StartupBREW Fargo is a weekly meetup for entrepreneurs, innovators, creatives, and community members to get “energized over brews — coffee, tea, beer, or others.” Held at the new Brewhalla, the open-concept space was full of conversation and spring morning light with Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” to invigorate the crowd.
In his welcome, Concordia President William Craft noted the unique space of the newly opened Brewhalla. “This is the earliest hour I’ve been at a brew hall,” he said. His address focused on Concordia’s version of BREW, an acronym of the mission for students to Become Responsibly Engaged in the World.
Following this were announcements from several Concordia students, including Jesus Gonzalez Ruiz ’25, SGA president.
Throughout the speaker panel, both Graupman and Saintal offered insights into the successes and challenges that come with building a business from the ground up.
Saintal explained that failure can be necessary on the journey to success. After graduating from Concordia a semester later than planned, he pursued a variety of career paths but couldn’t find his passion. After failing an exam to complete his law enforcement certification, he pivoted to barbering. Now, he owns barber shops in Fargo, Detroit Lakes, and Jamestown, as well as Dakota Barber Academy.
Saintal’s advice was simple: Don’t give up.
“Find a mentor who’s been where you want to go,” he said. “Stop comparing yourself to others.”
Graupman had similar things to say about her business, Embroiders Clothing. As she juggles nursing school and running her own business, she stays true to her brand. Finding success during the COVID-19 pandemic, she advertised her products, handmade embroidery projects, on Instagram. Now, her clothes are in several boutiques across the U.S., including New York City.
Graupman plans to work as a pediatric ICU nurse after graduation, while also continuing Embroiders Clothing. She maintains that, if you’re passionate, it’s possible to pursue multiple vocations.
“I can do more than just nursing. There’s more to me, and there’s more to my story,” she said.
Following graduation, Graupman plans to take some time off before studying for the NCLEX exam. Her piece of advice for beginning entrepreneurs: Just do it!
“I spent too much time comparing my business to others and it really brought me down,” Graupman said. “We all have something unique to share, so don’t deprive the world of your amazing ideas! You will be amazed at how many people are waiting to encourage you and support your business!”
Concordia student Elijah Grove ’23 was among the attendees. An entrepreneur himself, Grove enjoyed the chance to hear from people who have tried their hand at building from the ground up.
“It is definitely an inspiration to be surrounded by entrepreneurs at different phases of their journey,” Grove said. “In a world built around media, there are others doing exactly what I am doing and the question was asked, ‘What sets you apart?’ Emily answered this by mentioning authenticity and staying true to yourself. Sometimes I forget that there are others that are going through the same ‘phases’ of entrepreneurship.”
Grove also touched on his own Concordia BREW experience in Florence, Italy.
“BREW was the biggest part of my life when studying abroad,” he said. “Every day, I was surrounded by cultures unlike mine. Part of growing into my role as an international student was becoming aware of the cultural norms. I also took advantage of the opportunity to go to Dublin, Ireland, during spring break with a class. One of our main focuses was growing in cultural intelligence. This cemented the benefits of surrounding ourselves with a diverse community if we are willing to learn and adapt to others’ beliefs and norms.”