Founder Friday: The Not-So-Accidental Entreprenuer

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By Rachel Robinson, M.S. CCC-SLP, Founder + President of DCT

In selecting my major in college I knew one thing: I did NOT want to own my own business. I am the product of generations of business owners and I had seen firsthand how difficult it can be. After discovering the field of speech therapy I knew it was the right fit for me - stable and predictable.

It is only now that I can see that my legacy of entrepreneurship is as ingrained in my DNA as the color of my eyes.

To be clear, an entrepreneur should never be a profession you seek but instead a calling.

I was practicing speech pathology, saw a problem and my very being, my biology, indicated I needed to fix it. It was only experiencing this firsthand that I was able to see how my family members before me had ended up in the same position.

My maternal grandfather, Henry Duda, started his career as a milk driver. In 1957 he and his fellow drivers banded together to take over the dairy company, Twin Oaks. He rose in ranks of the driver-owned company to become president shortly thereafter. On the side of his job, he loved to camp. His family was the proud owner of an Airstream trailer and my grandfather constantly looked for ways he could improve the sleek design. After years of tinkering in the basement, he invented (and patented) the first Zip Dee awning. The demand was so high that he ended up leaving Twin Oaks and mortgaging his home for seed money to pursue his Airstream dreams. To this day every time I see an Airstream trailer I look on the side of the awning for the infamous “Zip Dee” logo.

My father, John Mack, has built and grown multiple advertising agencies over the years. He has always had a keen eye for effective marketing and recalls driving to Wisconsin to raft down the Wolf River when a young woman he grew up with said, “you write songs, you have a good sense of humor, you are creative, you ought to put together a portfolio of made-up ad campaigns and apply for a job as a copywriter.” With no experience in the ad world, my dad applied for and landed a job at Leo Burnett. He learned the ropes and later connected with other creatives to launch his first ad agency that catered to modern advertising, Mueller Mack. To this day, he operates a creative ad agency, Brandigm, out of Denver, CO.

My mother, Gerianne Mack,  built from the ground up a successful children's clothing line, Mack and Co., that can be found everywhere from small boutiques to the aisles of Costco. She remembers back to when my two sisters and I were growing up in the frigid Minneapolis winters being frustrated by the lack of imagination in children's winter clothing. Solution? She created her own clothing, brand, and company of course. With no design or business background she turned a small loan into a successful children's line in the ultra-competitive fashion industry.

These few stories outlining the entrepreneurial spirit alive in my family prove that none of this was done intentionally. None of them woke up one day and decided they wanted to be business owners. They saw a problem and decided they weren’t going to wait for someone else to solve it. Although I was never seeking the same path of my mom, dad, and grandfather, I had no choice.

When it came to the obstacles in the therapy industry, something had to be done, and I wasn’t going to wait for someone else to solve the problems.

So here I am. I sometimes joke and say that I’m an accidental entrepreneur, but the truth is, I believe this was always my destiny.

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Rachel Robinson