CtG Community: Linsey Prunty Builds Community & Her Business in a Small Town

Guest post by Linsey Prunty of LC Design

I’ve been known to be able to pack a bunch of information into one long run-on sentence and cover a lot of topics, so when I was asked to possibly do a CtG guest blog post, I automatically thought absolutely I would! Then I asked Colleen, what topics do you want me to cover? She gave me a few ideas and I’m like, of course I can talk about those in one post, but in reality, they would cue the music to get me to stop talking. So here is my attempt to tell you about being a family farmer's wife (but living in town, common mistake), a millennial, a woman entrepreneur, a recent small retail business owner downtown in a rural town with an older population, and connecting with all those people while still keeping on top of trends and information. Ready?!

In the fall of 2012, I was deciding on what courses I wanted to fill my final semester with at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. At that time I said to myself, “What worthless courses can I take to just get me through and do the bare minimum?” I was told I could get an emphasis in Entrepreneurial Studies, not a minor, just an emphasis. I asked them why I would pay thousands of dollars and not get anything for it, especially when I was never going to own my own business?! Well, little did I know, my life was going to take that route.

Upon graduating in spring 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences, Interior Design, I moved with my then fiancé, Paul, to Pipestone, Minnesota. Paul grew up in the area on his family’s hog farm, attended all grades in Pipestone, and made his friends here; I had no connection. Pipestone is a small, rural town with a large focus on agriculture and swine — not interior design. The median age is 40, and right now out of the 4,170 people here, there are 151 people who are my current age range. Still, with all that, I told myself upon moving here that I wanted to be a part of the community, not someone who leaves the town to go to work, spend their money, and take their (future) kids to school.

I found a part-time retail job locally and taught at a local dance studio in the evenings. I wanted and needed more in my life though. I had just graduated with a college degree, I had a love for historical buildings and all things old, and I had an eye for design; not the typical farm wife. Living the farm life in a rural town, options were small. I started to dabble back into redesigning by “Adopting a Room” at the Historic Calumet Inn in Pipestone, and was always told I needed to start a business out of it. In 2014 I did just that, starting my home-based business, LC Design. I had so much support from so many different people in the community, and finally took the very advice I was giving to my younger students at the dance studio: “You do you. Be whoever and whatever you want to be no matter what.”

In 2016 I started doing LC Design full time, and we were bursting at the seams. I decided it was time to go against the norms of being 26 and not building my dreams and making something big happen for myself and my community. I stepped outside my comfort zone and applied for the OTA Trailblazer program, and was selected as the only Minnesotan to represent the OTA region (Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota). I also decided to do two guest features on the Minnesota Farm Living blog, which coming from a girl who never stepped foot on a farm until I met my husband, was a new experience in itself. A few months later I decided to apply for the Historic Preservation Commission position and was selected. In May 2017, I was offered a space inside of another small business to sell my things.

Life has been ever-changing since I decided to throw all caution to the wind and do something I once said there was no possibility of happening. I haven’t looked back; in fact, I have been pushing forward. On a daily, you are met with the stereotypical small town road blocks. Someone tells you that you can’t do something because you are too young or too inexperienced. The older generations may not understand and don’t expect it, but end up finding it as a pleasant surprise. They tell you that “Pipestone really needed you all this time."

I've learned that teaching dance and the influence I have on the kids and vice versa creates an open door of possibility of their future and mine, and that publicly supporting a young entrepreneur can do wonders in self-confidence and self-worth of knowing this can be my future too. I also have learned that you can and should continue learning through people and other means of education such as webinars. Business is never easy, but is so, so, so rewarding and you not only grow your community, but you grow into an even better person for yourself and your community.