#HarryPotter20

Today, June 26 2017, marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s if you want to be like that) Stone.

Even though I was 3 years old when the book was released, I still count it as one of the most important book and series of my life. Here’s a short list why:

  • It was my first long book that I read by myself. I felt so accomplished that I finally read a chapter book with small-ish font!
  • Because of that, I credit Harry Potter with my love of reading. A lot of my friends say that they never read anything, and that makes me really sad. Books allow you to  do so many things, and people who haven’t yet discovered that probably aren’t reading very good books.
  • I have bonded with people over Harry Potter. Feel like you don’t have a lot in common? Ask someone what their favorite book is. They might say Harry Potter, and you pretty much can have a 30 minute discussion about the books, movies, and your favorite characters.
  • It sparked a sense of adventure in me. Granted, I don’t own a wand and live in Europe, but I can see the world and still think that is magic enough for me.
  • It provides me with an escape – during some difficult periods in my life I like to turn to something familiar. Harry Potter lets me sink into the familiar story and let me escape my problems for a while.
  • Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Tonks, Minerva McGonagall, to name a few. Strong females forever.
  • It taught me that being curious isn’t always a bad thing. Yeah, Harry and pals got in a lot of trouble (looking at you, Fred and George) but they learned more about life than school probably taught them.
  • As Hermione and Ron and Harry grew up, so did I! It was a cool aspect of the series to see your characters grow up and deal with different challenges as I dealt with the challenges my own life dealt me.

These are just some of the reasons why I love Harry Potter. The best thing? Everyone who has read the books loves them for different reasons than I do – and that’s why the books have been so successful and have created a community around them.

-Martha

Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home…

 

Thoughts on the election

In 2008, I was 14 or so when Barack Obama first got elected to office. I didn’t really know much about anything back then. I mean, I was 14! I knew it was a historic event. Time passed, I turned 18. I voted for Obama. I was really excited about the fact that I could vote. I always knew I was a Democrat because it lined up more with my beliefs that the Republicans. That’s not to say I agree 100% with Democratic policies, but generally, I do.

When I was 11 I woke up in the middle of the night because I was scared that the Earth wasn’t going to be around forever. I was 11, and I knew climate change was real. The fact that the Current President has eliminated all White House pages on climate change concerns me deeply.

I was 19 and decided to get birth control. The Affordable Care Act was not yet in place, so I had to pay for it. It didn’t strike me as unusual at the time. But it wasn’t until I needed to have several OBGYN appointments I realized that I was lucky that the ACA greatly reduced the costs of my health care.

When I was 19 I needed to see a therapist. You can see more of why in my TED Talk, here. It was a scary time for me, but I’m glad I was able to get help. I’m sad that the current President dismisses mental illness. More people struggle with anxiety and depression and other things than you think.

I was 10 when I was in elementary school and a boy snapped my bra strap when we were walking to the cafeteria. Ten. Gross. So I’m not sure why people think it’s okay to assault women and it makes me sad.

When I was 21 I realized what good role models were. And I realized that women can do anything they set their mind to.

When I was 22 I realized how important of an election this was going to be. I had been informed on the issues before and did my civic duty to vote each year. But this year, I tried to step it up. I always wanted to keep my Twitter/Facebook neutral in case potential employers read these things (which I’m sure they do) but that all went out the window this year. I needed to stand up for what I believed in and make sure that others knew they could come to me if they needed to talk or find a safe space.

I’m 23 now and Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States. Sadly, it’s not a bad dream. And I am most certainly not okay with it. I think it’s stupid to pretend that you are and it’s stupid to ignore what’s happening. Don’t hide your feelings – SPEAK UP. You don’t have to get angry at someone for supporting this, but you need to make them understand that their actions are hurtful to you. You can’t normalize this what is happening in the United States because IT IS NOT NORMAL. You are not alone in thinking this way.

And you aren’t alone in the fight.

2016 Wrap Up

All things worth mentioning that happened to me in 2016:

  • Started a company.
  • Said company was featured on The Today Show’s website, and on local news 3 times!
  • Got eyelash extensions.
  • Graduated college. (Note to self: change the blog name?)
  • Started a full time job.
  • Celebrated 2 years with my boyfriend. (Cue “awwwws” here)
  • Went to Mexico, spent a night in Houston aka Hell Hole of America.
  • Went to Philly because we got free flight vouchers.
  • Went to the doctor’s because of stomach pains, turns out it was appendicitis.
  • Got my wisdom teeth removed, and instead of being funny on the meds I cried a lot!
  • Got TWO toenails removed.
  • Got runner up in a startup competition and won $5000!
  • Booked a trip to London for next year… expect more travel posts!!!
  • Did a TED talk.
  • Ate pizza at TWO USA famous places (one in Phoenix, one in Philly).
  • Hit 10,000 tweets.
  • Voted for a woman president.
  • Discovered the magic that is Hamilton (and the Hamilton Mixtape, for that matter).

Happy 2016! This year was a good one, and I feel like it’ll be hard to top. Stay tuned. Below: Ham4Ham performance of some of the songs of the Hamilton Mixtape.

I graduated!

….about 3 months ago. Oh well, better late than never, right? If you’ve read some of my posts from the way beginning, you know that freshman year of college was HELL. Sophomore year was better because I got to go abroad. And then finally, junior year is where I hit my stride. Senior year? Couldn’t have been better.

I was recently asked by someone to share some advice I would give to my freshman year self. She was compiling it into a book for someone who was starting college, and I honestly think that’s such a great gift! But, the advice I would give to my freshman year self is to KEEP GOING. Nobody knows what they are doing in college. So if you think you’re doing something right, then keep going and doing that thing. Don’t let other people influence your decisions (unless, of course, you are doing something highly illegal and very destructive – then please, get some influence).

And if it turns out that you were doing something and that thing didn’t turn out then stop, but then try a different way. For example, I thought I knew how to study. Or that I was smart enough that I didn’t need to study. Well, I ended up doing pretty terrible on a couple of tests and then I realized that the way I thought I was studying was totally wrong for me. But, I kept going. And in May, I graduated.

Sure, I didn’t graduate with any honors or even an amazing GPA. But I LEARNED. And isn’t that what college is supposed to be about?

xo, Martha

Related college article I just read about sex on campus: here. Idk, could be useful. Below: my alma mater. P.S. Do I have to change my URL now?

Image result for university of minnesota

Kickstarter Success

The Nesel Packs Kickstarter was successfully funded, with just under $36,000. I’m really proud of my team and everything that we’ve had to do to make this happen. I thought I would share some tips and tricks that helped us on the path to success.

  1. Know your audience. This is probably where we actually failed. Being young 20-somethings, we assumed that everyone knew what Kickstarter was. This was actually not at all the case! I answered several emails a day explaining what Kickstarter was and I had to send screen shots to make sure people understood exactly HOW to donate. That being said…
  2. Bend over backward for your customers. During the 30 day period of your Kickstarter campaign, you will likely have lots of questions. Do your best to answer all of them in a timely fashion. Also, you’ll get tired of answering the same questions over and over, but these customers will turn into potential sales, and the goal of Kickstarter is to raise money (and in our case, awareness as well).
  3. Start early. We have a very unique and niche product that a lot of people somewhat understand. We wanted to spread the word as early as possible, so we reached out to the media about a month before to pitch our story. We were incredibly lucky, being college students and having an amazing college newspaper. They wrote our story and within the next day, we were picked up by 2 local news stations and it spiraled on from there, peaking when The Today Show’s website covered us. Starting early also means PLANNING everything. We had a Google Doc going of our Kickstarter story and all of the graphics we needed/wanted.
  4. The video is important. Our video was good, not great. And that’s okay. A lot of people fundraising on Kickstarter don’t necessarily have the money to produce an amazing video. As long as it gets your point across and it is well-done, it doesn’t need to be like an Oscar winning short film. What’s more important is that the product is quality!
  5. Be transparent. Our product is expensive, and we’ve had to work really hard to justify that. Sometimes customers just won’t understand it either way, but it’s important that you try to explain anyways. Be transparent about your manufacturing process and how you are getting the bags to everyone, including delivery dates.
  6. You’ll get a lot of emails, and it’s probably best to ignore them. There are lots and lots of websites offering SEO optimization, press release writing, logo creation, and others will offer you cross-promotion. I took one offer for a phone call up and did one cross-promotion because it fit with our mission. It’s a lot of time to research these website’s credibility and often times it’s a hefty fee. We didn’t have the money for these services, and we were doing pretty well just on our own.
  7. Use your network! One of the best pieces of advice I received from a contact who ran a Kickstarter was to call in every favor you have. This is not the time to be scared or uncomfortable to ask for money. Post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, whatever social media sites you use to gather donations! The second piece to this is that reach out to people in your network who have done this before. Chances are, you can have a 30 minute conversation to ask all the questions you need.
  8. Make sure your website is ready to handle the influx of traffic. This means that your hosting platform is solid, and it also means that it’s important to have a nice website so that people understand what you’re supposed to be looking at. Our website is looking a little rough right now, but we’re working on it!
  9. Triple check those backer surveys. I screwed up and forgot to ask the people who backed our t-shirt level what size they wanted. YIKES.

Any questions? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can. I’m by no means a Kickstarter expert, but if a college student like me can figure out how to run a successful campaign, you can too!

-Martha

Below, an awesome dude named Liam trying out our backpack and some of my team members!

LiamwBackpack_Jake.Will

Pride and Joy

As part of my last year at the University of Minnesota, I’m taking a class called Entrepreneurship in Action. In this class, we start up our own company. Seriously. I’m actually doing it.

I’m CEO of a company called Nesel Packs, and it’s been my labor of love (I honestly don’t know if that’s a phrase) for the last year. On March 19, we are launching a Kickstarter to raise $10,000. It’s a big task, but my amazing team and I are more than up to the challenge.

We create backpacks for students with autism. Students with autism often have a difficult time in school because their senses are overloaded (sensory processing disorder is really common among autistic students). We want to create a safe and comfortable environment for them and we think this is a great product for that.

Check us out on our website and Instagram. Please sign up for our email list and help spread the word!!!!

xo, Martha (Below is our first prototype)

DSCN8614

 

Seattle!

This post is better late than never, but I still wanted to share. Just before school started back up for the semester, I went to Seattle with a few people from my undergrad program and we visited several companies. On the list was Amazon, Arryve Consulting, ECG (consulting), Amazon, and a few others.

The point of this trip was to get a good idea of what it would be like to live in Seattle and whether or not I’d want to work there. The conclusion: maybe? At some point? It seemed like a cool city but honestly, I haven’t yet found a place that feels like home. Author Nora McInerny Purmort wrote a nice feature in the Star Tribune about this exact feeling.

Here are some pictures from the trip:

xo, Martha