Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and every business plays a critical role in keeping Montana’s towns vibrant. The Treasure State consistently ranks among the top five in reports from the Kauffman Foundation in rates of business ownership and business sustainability.
In our Q and A series, we’ll introduce you to some of Montana’s brightest and best entrepreneurs from all corners of the state. These businesses are involved in a variety of industries including hospitality, retail, and food.
Let’s head to Red Lodge to meet Nicole O’Shea!
Sixth & Baker and A Brave Life
1. What is the name of your business?
I own two businesses: Sixth & Baker and A Brave Life.
2. Are you a native of Montana? If you are, where is your hometown and why do you love it? If not, why did you decide to make Montana home?
Red Lodge is my hometown and where we live now. My husband and I both graduated from Red Lodge High School and traveled out of state for college. But we both knew we wanted to raise our kids where we grew up so here we are again! I love Red Lodge because of its diversity. Whatever your belief system, hobby, background, or culture – you can have your clan here. Locals and transplants blend nicely to create the perfect mix of hometown values & fresh ideas. It’s truly a melting pot in all the best ways.
3. How long has your business been in operation? What does your business do?
Sixth & Baker has been around for two years and A Brave Life for one year. At Sixth & Baker we create day planners and journals which focus on whole-self wellness: body, mind, soul. Our books are filled with tools to help users live responsible, gentle lives based in kindness and accountability. Our sister company, A Brave Life, also creates journals and planners, but they are dedicated to the mental health world. They are psychologist-approved therapy support tools designed to make healing easier for a variety of mental health diagnoses.
4. What has surprised you about owning your own business?
The biggest surprise, honestly, is just how well received our companies’ missions are. These were never supposed to be businesses. The companies started by accident after I created a planner for my own personal use. After sharing it with a few therapists, it became evident more people could benefit from them. The more communities I visit to tell my story, the more people join this family of healing. I had no idea just how much pain we had residing in Montana and that my creation could help facilitate the healing of that pain.
5. Why should an entrepreneur start a business in Montana?
Because I don’t care where you’ve been, you’ll never find a state with more pride than ours. Montanans love a hometown success story and they WILL support you. If you have a vision or can see an unfilled gap in the local economy, you should absolutely go for it!
6. Why did you decide to start your business?
I didn’t decide to start a business. I decided to create a product for personal use and it took off from there.
7. What are three pieces of advice you would give someone about starting a company in Montana?
1. Keep it simple. Don’t over complicate your process or message.
2. Be prepared to hear “no” 10 times for every “yes”. And don’t let the “no’s” discourage you… JUST KEEP GOING.
3. Even small steps move you forward. Set small, incremental goals, and you’ll make progress every day.
8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
There is no other state in the union I’d rather grow these businesses. The people of Montana are the heart of what we do and I’m grateful to be doing what I do right here in Big Sky Country.
Do you know a local business that should be highlighted on our Q +A feature? Fill out the questionnaire here, and we will consider featuring your business!
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