Fargo Start-Up Provides Connection Between Makers and Community

In 2011, Unglued began as a one-time event for crafters, makers, and artists in Fargo, North Dakota. However, the first event garnered so much excitement that today Unglued has a retail storefront, annual events, and workshops. “Our first event had a line wrapped around the block during the winter… We saw if we continued to provide a creative platform, it could really make a difference in our community,” explained Ashley Morken.

Craft Show Explosion

Morken is the owner and operator of Unglued, which has a retail storefront on Broadway in downtown Fargo, North Dakota. “The idea for Unglued grew out of a passion to bring a platform to people to show their work… I have always found myself starting or leading events that make that happen,” said Morken. In August of 2012, the Unglued store opened and it has connected customers with the work of over 250 makers, crafters, and artists.

Morken didn’t foresee a start-up in her career path after graduating from the University of North Dakota with a degree in nursing. However, all along her educational journey, she helped lead clubs and hosted coffee houses in her garage for local artists. After living in Minneapolis for a few years, Morken and her husband moved to Fargo, North Dakota. “I have always enjoyed getting together to craft and create… when we moved to Fargo, we saw the need for a creative outlet for people to sell their work and find success,” explained Morken.

In 2011, the first Unglued Craft Fest was hosted at the American Legion building in Fargo with the premise being a one-off experience. “We experienced crazy success from our first event… Since 2011, our craft fest includes free workshops, live music, and connection to creatives in the region,” said Morken. The momentum of the first craft show led to the start of a holiday pop-up store in downtown Broadway in 2012.

Continued Success

After finding success from the first craft show and the subsequent pop-up store, Morken and the Unglued team launched the permanent retail store that has fueled the mission to get people creative. “Over the last four years, our success from our storefront and the annual event has led to a children’s summer camp and adult summer camp. The momentum of the storefront has helped us propel beyond the walls of our store into the community,” explained Morken. It is common for the summer camps to sell out within days, sometimes minutes, of advertising them in the community.

Along the 6-year journey, Morken and Unglued have experienced the challenges and victories of a start-up business. “We are a for-profit business that acts like a non-profit… We believe the culture of our communities is important. Giving a platform to artists, creators, and makers is difficult when you also invest in the accessibility and education of art in the community,” said Morken. In 2015, Unglued Craft Fest was named the Event of the Year by the North Dakota Department of Tourism, which competed with events like ESPN’s Game Day and the Fargo Marathon. Along the start-up journey, Morken points to the success of giving over $1 million to makers, which drives the creative businesses in the area to success.

Brent McNeal