From Registered Nurse to Successful Rural Entrepreneur

Posted on November 5, 2019

Carey Grosdidier
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Rachel Woods didn’t have a passion for screen printing before she opened Apparel WorX. She didn’t know how to embroider and had no idea how to operate a press.

But she knew she wanted to start her own business. After brainstorming and researching the need in her hometown, Rachel decided that a custom embroidery/printing shop in Wagner could be a successful venture.

Turns out she was right.

“It was a wild idea,” she admits. “I was a registered nurse at the time. I was working too much and had three little kids who needed more of me. I talked it through with my husband and we decided to try this out in our basement.”

Today, Apparel WorX is a thriving business on Wagner’s Main Street, serving the area schools and businesses with fan gear and promotional items and supplying wholesale graphic tees to boutiques around the country.

Along the way, Rachel has become a successful rural business entrepreneur and a 2019 Dakota Rising Fellowship graduate. As part of the final Dakota Rising graduating class, Rachel is thankful for the experience.

“Dakota Rising grew me as a person and taught me how to grow my business the right way,” she says. “My biggest lesson was to work ON my business and not IN my business. It’s hard not to get bogged down in the little day-to-day details but it’s important to focus on the bigger picture.”

Rachel grew up in Wagner and has always enjoyed being a part of her small community. She’s on the Wagner School Board and the Wagner Community Hospital Avera Board. She’s a member of Rotary and has been the Chamber of Commerce President for two years. She says when you support a small community, they are happy to support you.

“Be open with your community. Tell them what you’re doing. Ask for help if you need it. Ask for advice. Be humble. You will screw up a thousand times but people will rally around you if you are real and honest about it,” she says. “There is nothing better than starting a business in a rural community. These people wanted me to succeed as much as I wanted to succeed.”

Rachel was a guest panelist at this year’s Empower Sessions in Spearfish, where she was interviewed along with her sister Kelsey Doom, President/CEO of Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce & Convention Bureau.

“I think people in the audience could tell how much we both love rural. Growing up in a small town gave us such an appreciation for rural possibilities,” she says. “Now that I own a business in my hometown, I am so grateful to be able to contribute to Wagner’s economy. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.”

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