When I was a kid my mom (and every once in a while my dad) would read us the Little House on the Prairie books before we went to bed. Of course my brother’s favorite was Farmer Boy, but I loved all of them, so much so that I know I read through the entire series multiple times throughout my childhood. And I remember checking out as many books as I could find at the library that were about pioneering as a kid.
I guess I have always loved history and been a bit nostalgic, and I suppose some would call me an old soul. But it never really occurred to me until recently why I love those books so much: it’s because I have that same pioneering spirit in me, too. And that same pioneering spirit that drove settlers to take on the frontier is the same pioneering spirit that drives me as an entrepreneur today.
In a recent road trip through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, I realized the actual site of Little House on the Prairie in Independence, Kansas was just a mile off of my route and I knew I had to stop. I have to admit, it was a bit of a surreal moment. As I stood in front of the replica of that little log cabin on that windy day and looked at the land where the Ingalls family had settled, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between their life as pioneers and our new generation of pioneering. That adventurous, persevering spirit that was uncompromising as they settled a new territory, bringing new life and dreams to remote and sparsely-populated areas is not really all that different than what we’re trying to do again today. We are bringing our lives and our dreams and our families to these rural areas, to these Main Street storefronts that have been abandoned for years, and putting our stake in the ground to claim our place in this new frontier.
Sure, it may look a little different, but new things always do. Whereas Pa and Ma saved up every bit of extra money they had so they could put a small window in their tiny cabin, now we save our money to replace that beautiful storefront window and bring it back to its former glory. And while we may not have to live in fear of an Indian attack on the prairie, we face our own set of challenges and fears as we try to navigate this somewhat uncharted territory of rural revival.
I just decided to rent a Main Street loft apartment in a small Iowa town (and will now split my time between Iowa and Tennessee), and am contemplating the purchase of an Airstream to accompany me as I travel. This is certainly not something I planned for my life. But you know what? It suits me. Although becoming an entrepreneur is still quite new for me, I now realize the entrepreneurial spirit has always been in me and has always been trying to find a way to come out. And I’m so glad I’ve finally gotten to a place where it can flourish. Who knew that all these years later I would realize what a profound affect the Ingalls family would have on me? And I bet the Ingalls family had no idea how much their story would impact the generations to come.
I hope and pray we can continue to pioneer and foster this same spirit, to impact the generations that follow us as well. The original frontier was such a defining characteristic of America. And we have the opportunity to let this new frontier be the same, in its own way. So on those days when everything seems so hard and you just want to give up, remember that your story matters. And not just to you, but to the generations that will follow you.
So here’s to the pioneers.
The strong of heart.
The ones who risk it all.
The ones whose dreams cannot be quenched.
The ones whose passion fuels their undying determination to make it work.
The ones who push through a few failures along the way to see their dream achieved.
The ones whose grit and perseverance will be the backbone of their success.
The ones whose faith is greater than their fears.
I'm ready for the new frontier. Are you?
>> Danna Larson, Founder