Cara Øverland loves Lake Superior so much that she started a business to help others enjoy it too. She talks with Ladyboss about changing directions, starting a business in quarantine, and the healing power of female friendship.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Duluth, MN and consider myself a life-long Duluthian. I moved to the Twin Cities for about five years in my twenties – had a great time and met amazing people, but Duluth is home and I couldn’t wait to get back.
I live with my partner Mike, our five-year-old son Sam, our Goldendoodle Norman and our five backyard chickens – Winnie, Carmen, Sunny, Lucy and Rhoda. Our home is nestled up on the hill in Duluth with a million-dollar Lake Superior View. When we were house hunting a lakeview was non-negotiable and we are so glad we were the lucky ones to win the bidding war on our home. Lake Superior brings me inspiration and joy every day!
How did you get involved in your work?
My background is in the hospitality business, primarily managing hotels and restaurants. I’ve pretty much held every position possible including operations, sales, HR, accounting and general management. In early 2020 I left my lucrative career as a hotel general manager to try a new venture in area sales for a food distributor. I was excited to get back in restaurants and work with chefs and operators to help their business grow. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and I was laid off within my first 90 days.
Like so many other Americans I was faced with unemployment for the first time in my life. It was scary and also exhilarating at the same time. Why exhilarating? This unfortunate circumstance provided me the opportunity to take a chance on something that I had been dreaming about for a long time, but not brave enough to take the leap of faith. I started my own business!
SUPerior Paddle is a stand-up paddle board rental company in Duluth, MN. I provide stand up paddle boards, along with all the gear, for individual and group paddles on Lake Superior and our many inland lakes and rivers. I offer individual and group paddles, birthday party paddles, corporate retreat paddles and collaborative paddles, where we partner with other businesses to create a super special experience. The collab paddles are really fun because they give me the chance to join forces with other fellow entrepreneurs and small businesses. Yoga Paddles, Pint/Pub Paddles and Sauna Paddles are a few current offerings.
This business is the perfect fit for me as someone who grew up quite literally on the shores of Lake Superior. My Nana owned a home on Park Point so my first memories are of the beach. It’s truly home and I love being able to share that experience with others. My goal is to make people fall in love with our lakes so that they will honor and protect them as I do.
As you know, April is Earth Month. Is sustainability something you think about with your work? How have you been able to implement more sustainable business practices in recent years?
I’m professionally trained in a science-based sustainability framework called The Natural Step. I spent 8 years in leadership with a non-profit organization called Sustainable Twin Ports (STP). In those 8 years STP trained nearly 30 Twin Ports businesses and organizations on how to become a more sustainable business, both economically and environmentally.
Sustainability and protecting the natural environment guides all that I do in life and business. SUPerior Paddle is a healthy, zero-emission activity that has proven to inspire and move people to have a new respect for our natural resources.
What is your favorite form of self-care?
I love taking a bath. Epsom salts, candles, bubbles – the works! I find that the hot steamy water and alone time allows my mind to settle down. I always feel refreshed and calm afterwards.
I also make sure to stay connected to my girlfriends. My closest friends are the ones I’ve had since childhood. There are around ten of us in the old school crew and when we get together the laughs don’t stop. They are the best medicine.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently?
Contrary to popular opinion, quitting is actually for winners. Knowing when to quit, change direction, leave a toxic situation, demand more from life, give up on something that wasn’t working and move on is a very important skill that people who win at life all seem to have.
What do you think women need right now?
I think we need each other! Since I started in this entrepreneur life I’ve been amazed at the other “fempreneurs” who have emerged as my biggest cheerleaders. Whether it is a simple positive comment on a social media post or offering support by buying each other goods, we know we are in it together. I love watching a new female business owner succeed and I will do all I can do to support that and encourage others to do the same.