Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life, including rural areas.
Paula Vogelsang, who lives on a farm and ranch at the edge of the Badlands of South Dakota, is a master of diversification. In 1993, she pursued her idea of publishing a small newspaper giving hints on how to conserve and make better use of items around the home.
The new buzzword is “re-purposing,”’ which is one aspect of her “PennyWise” monthly newsletter. Fast-forward to 2018 and you will find her using a computer as she writes her page-long editorial comments. Inside the pages are hints from individuals all over the nation as well as ones she has thought up and used.
Each issue features a few recipes and many good ideas. In September one hint was, “My children take their lunches to school because of certain allergies. They love fruit and I have found that if I cut down a cardboard egg carton, I can put several plums or small bunches of grapes in each section and the fruit doesn’t roll around.”
Another helpful idea in the September edition is: “If you are welcoming a new bride to your family, give her a family address book. List the names of all the family members, their contact information — cell phone and emails too if you have them — and relationship within the family. With any luck this will help the new bride or groom.” Of course a subscription to PennyWise would also make a memorable, monthly gift for anyone.
For the past 18 years, Vogelsang has been a monthly featured guest on KOTA TV, Rapid City, S.D., during their noon show the second Wednesday of the month. She shares ideas of how to reuse items, find new uses and not spend money, which is quite an accomplishment these days.
When she started the publication she was husbanding 60 brood sows, raising kids and partnering with her husband, Conrad, on the cattle ranch. Vogelsang had been a local news correspondent and was acquainted with neighbors who grew up during the Great Depression. She had learned from them and wanted to share this knowledge even while she continued with the farm and ranch work, childcare and as a volunteer 4-H leader. After Conrad died in 2009 she continued with the diversified agriculture operation and PennyWise.
She used a 1950s-era typewriter, layout sheets, a black sharpie and rubber cement; she did the artwork too. Her local newspaperman took her under his wing and taught her as she went along.
Vogelsang sent copies of her first issues to everyone on her Christmas card list, and put some free ones around to get her publication noticed. Vogelsang bought a computer as she increased her subscriptions. Now she emails the copy to the local newspaper where it is printed. That is quite a metamorphosis during her 25 years in business.