By Attorney Patrick Noaker
“People fundamentally desire to live lives of excellence, I am just the enabler for achieving that excellence,” speaker Kate Herzog explained during the January Innovation Hour. By all accounts, the hour with international social entrepreneur and owner of House of Talents LLC, Kate Herzog was inspiring, thought provoking and informative.
Kate started her discussion describing the windowless garage in Ghana where she and her sisters lived when she was young. Where some might see a poor family living under difficult conditions, Kate remembers a home “full of imagination and dreams.” An active and vibrant imagination combined with her insatiable desire to learn is what makes Kate Herzog the innovator that she is today. Kate credits an American friend of her father for giving her an English picture book, which she learned to read at age 10, for her hunger to learn and experience the world. She repays this life-changing gesture by establishing a library in each community where she employs artists. “That way, every child will have the same opportunity that I had to learn.”
Kate’s business, House of Talents LLC, produces high-end baskets, jewelry, soaps and other art products and then distributes those products throughout the world. See August 9, 2013 Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal article . Currently, House of Talents employs about 1,500 artists in Ghana and Mali in order to produce enough baskets, jewelry and art products to meet the demands of international retailers like Crate & Barrel.
According to Kate, her company is different from other importers of baskets and other decorative products because in addition to the novelty of its products, House of Talents also focuses on functionality and quality. Instead of importing a basket with an interesting story, Kate worked with designers and her artists to produce functional baskets with an interesting story. Bicycle baskets, picnic baskets and laundry baskets are “more than a decorative basket that will sit in the corner of your house or apartment gathering dust. Our baskets are beautiful art, functional and stylish.” When it comes to quality, Kate was adamant that “a quality product comes from an artist committed to excellence, who is proud to put her or his name on the product.” Kate admits that she demands excellence from her artists, but she also witnesses the corresponding pride and confidence gained by producing a world-class piece of art and being paid fairly for that effort. So far, Kate has never had a single basket returned because of a defect.
When starting her business, Kate went “all in” by cashing in her 401K in order to provide needed capital to get House of Talents off of the ground. Kate pointed out that “there are times that I succeeded because I could not fail. I owed it to my family to not fail and lose our retirement savings. When it is your money, you review every expense very carefully.”
It appears that Kate Herzog set the bar quite high for future speakers at the Innovation Hour.
The Innovation Hour is held on the third Wednesday of every month at the OffiCenter in the Union Plaza Building on Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis and sponsored by Noaker Law Firm, OffiCenters and Virtual OffiCenters.
Patrick Noaker is an attorney with the Noaker Law Firm LLC who helps businesses start-up and grow. Patrick helps clients start and register their small businesses and helps those businesses draft important contracts and other agreements necessary for the operation of the business. Patrick also aggressively represents clients in the courtroom, mediation and arbitration and has presented cases to judges, juries, arbitrators and mediators across the U.S. for the past 23 years. Patrick can be reached at his office: 333 Washington Avenue N. # 329, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401, (612) 839-1080, firstname.lastname@example.org, @Noakerlaw.