Updated: Apr 17
Redefining Business Success
"Although Maria has been living in the Twin Cities for well over a decade, what quickly shines through any metropolitan exterior is her Lake of the Woods start."
Women in business often have a distinct set of challenges. These challenges are imposed upon us both externally and internally and remedied by putting us in a box, even if we may not quite fit in it. Starting in our youth we develop identities and worth based on how we present ourselves: athlete, scholar, diva, or beauty queen. As adults we have multiple ways to express ourselves, but are still too often yoked with specific labels. How do we honor our unique selves? How do we lift-up other women? Maria D is an example of how it can be done.
If you’re one of the thousands who use highway 65 to travel the north metro, you’ve probably passed the crisp black and red awning of Maria D State Farm Agency as you pass through Fridley. Inside, you will find a welcoming, modern office run by an all women team, lead by Maria D.
Maria D has the All-American charm of the girl-next-door and is immediately able to connect with anyone. But don’t let that charm fool you into thinking she’s not serious. She is an accomplished businesswoman: articulate, possessing great acumen, all wrapped up in an impeccably stylish outfit no matter the occasion. Although Maria has been living in the Twin Cities for well over a decade, what quickly shines through any metropolitan exterior is her Lake of the Woods start. Her roots remain strong. It is her rural upbringing that allows her to be humble in a way that only the green spaces of the most northern tip of Minnesota can shape.
Maria’s childhood reads like an outdoor brochure; nestled in fields on crisp autumn mornings hunting for grouse and drifting in clear blue waters fishing for Walleye in summer. She still carries her love for nature today, enjoying places like Springbrook Nature Center and really any patch of land that smells of earth. She grew up playing volleyball, basketball and softball and continues to be athletic by running, lifting and playing on an all-women volleyball league.
"Maria is an unusual business owner, for she is not known for her professional success, although she has plenty of it. And that’s just fine by her."
After graduating high school in a class of 52, she went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with an Emphasis in Public Relations and Advertising from the U of MN Moorehead. While in college, she worked as a full-time personal banker for Wells Fargo where she discovered the profession she would focus her career in. In august 2009 she opened her own state farm agency in Fridley at the young age of 25.
During her career, she has been a top performer on numerous occasions recognized and awarded, but her (obvious) ability to hit industry goals is not what her legacy is. You only need to hear the stories of her staff to understand it is the investment of people that is her priority. Every one of the women who have worked in her office have been supported and changed by the interest and efforts of Maria.
Maria is an unusual business owner, for she is not known for her professional success, although she has plenty of it. And that’s just fine by her. What she is known for is her heart for community. She has built a reputation for mentoring women of all ages and backgrounds. She is involved in her local chamber of commerce and sponsors numerous non-profits. These are the things that are her metric to define success. Her desire to help people is in everything she does, her gentle nature ever-present.
Today, Maria is the mother of Lydia (11) and Myles (9) and is happily dating Gabe Milanovich. Her faith continues to be an important part of her life and her relationships a cornerstone. Rather than be boxed in a traditional businesswoman role, she has chosen to lead in ways that honor all the parts of her as a person, inspiring others to do the same.
But don’t take my word for it. If you are one of the thousands who use highway 65 to travel the north metro, she would be the first to tell you to stop in her office sometime.
Just be warned: you will leave with a new friend.
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"The Guest House Mission Statement: To build a legacy of memories for others by providing a beautiful and welcoming space for all communities to gather, create and share. "
Mandy Meisner is one of nine women co-owners of The Guest House; A restored Victorian home serving as a vacation rental and event venue in the beautiful city of Excelsior, Minnesota. Walking distance from Lake Minnetonka. This is her first venture as an entrepreneur.
A creative at heart, she graduated from the Perpich Center for Arts Education and continues to be an advocate for the arts, community and philanthropy.
She is a blogger for various syndicates, including the Minnesota Orchestra and has been nationally published. In addition to writing, she enjoys taking ballet classes, cooking and having a glass of wine with friends. She lives in the Twin Cities with her two children.
Mandy is also the Anoka County Commissioner for District 7. She is the first woman to hold this seat and the first person of color on the Anoka County Board.