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Weber Describes Business Ownership as a Scary-Crazy Ride

 

March 6, 2019

Certain people are ambitious by nature, for others, opportunities just fall into place at the right time, and for a select few, a combination of drive, fearlessness, and good fortune contribute to dreams coming true. Hannah Weber belongs to that latter, select group.

A 2015 Chinook High School graduate, Weber is currently completing the final semester of her undergraduate program at Montana State University-Bozeman (MSUB). She will earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design this coming May.

Last year, when she was a mere 20 years old, the opportunity to buy Montana Grafix came available. Heather DePriest, owner of Montana Grafix for eleven years, decided that with her children needing more of her attention and with American Garage growing progressively with expansion plans, she could no longer provide the same level of service that customers expect. So, she offered to sell the business to Weber.

Although her ultimate goal has always been to be her own boss and to own her own business, Weber just never thought it would happen so soon. "I would never have thought that at age 20 I would be buying a business, but with my mom's words whispering at the back of my mind: 'You learn the most when you're drowning,' I thought, 'If not now, when?' so I jumped in," she said.

On August 1, 2018, Weber took over as owner and manager of Montana Grafix. Based out of Chinook, Montana, Montana Grafix is a web and graphic design services business that handles all types of website design, graphic design, search engine optimization, hosting, domain registration, printing services, catalog design, logo creation, and more.

Since August, Weber has been applying not only her own creativity but the lessons she has learned at MSUB. Among her business projects, she has redesigned the website for Chinook Schools and printed vinyl signs for TNT Construction, a Chinook based trucking business owned and operated by Tim Harshman and Todd Jorgensen.

"Vinyl isn't just for signs," Weber said; "it can be used to customize containers and to personalize or reclaim spaces-like a drawer, for example."

When a class assignment required that students rebrand an eatery (or something similar), she chose one of her favorite breweries, Old Station Brewing in Havre, and designed a logo for them. She has also done other branding projects for businesses like Hi-Line Honey, owned by Winston and Cord Anderson from Chinook; Coffee Hound, located in Havre and owned by Natalie (Brekke) Hannum formerly of Chinook; and Mark Weber, not only Weber's father but the owner of Battle Creek Pointing Labs between Chinook and Zurich. The younger Weber has also designed a real estate guide for Lodestar Realty in Havre and customized mugs for Blaine County Health Department.

The aspect of business ownership that has posed the greatest challenge for Weber is the time and attention required. Energy invested in the business distracted her from her studies. When she bought Montana Grafix, she was carrying a twelve-credit load. The added demand of a business that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week as people use the World Wide Web put a strain on Weber's time. But she was quick to name the "whenever, wherever" aspect of her business as its biggest reward, as well.

Although Weber doesn't have an office right now, that will come after graduation. She also plans to branch out with the business once she finishes her degree. "Actually, in a technology-based business, my education will never stop, since with innovations, the business is always evolving," she said. "In one expansion idea, I am keeping a running list of people that I plan to approach for vinyl and rebranding projects."

The aspect of the business that has most surprised Weber is the breadth of clients who come to her, a twenty-one-year-old young adult, for help from such far-reaching places as Washington, DC. "It's just crazy," she stated.

With someone as ambitious as Weber, it will probably come as no surprise that Montana Grafix isn't her only gig. Weber credits her entrepreneurial spirit to her mother, Bonnie Weber, owner of Shore's Floral and Gift in Chinook and co-owner of BoMar German Shepherds, which breeds and sells affordable, quality German Shepherd dogs.

When she was in third grade, Weber's best friend Carol Warburton wanted to learn to crochet as a 4-H project, but she didn't want to do it alone, so she asked Weber to join her. While Warburton hated it, Weber was addicted.

From third grade on, Weber has been crocheting baby blankets, dish cloths, jar openers, and coasters. As she began selling her crocheted items in fourth grade, people began to tease her about being a granny. Currently, her items are available in Havre, Bozeman, Shelby, and Chinook. She also does custom orders like afghans and cows. "I love making afghans the most, but the cows have really been a hit; I've made 30 of them already, and I really have to learn to say no to people," she sighed.

Since those early days, what began as stress relief and something creative to do with her hands has since blossomed into something "way bigger" than Weber ever imagined: Hannah's Granny Crafts. "This stress relieving hobby sometimes creates stress. I have orders for eight more cows," she exclaimed.

Weber created the logo for Hannah's Granny Crafts as part of her senior thesis project, and she's excited to use it in the world beyond school. "I love to create," she says.

One might wonder where Weber gets all of her energy. She also takes senior pictures and has her own kennel with a pup from her dad's kennel. "I would not have made it in college without Grr, my yellow lab who's now four years old," Weber is quick to admit.

Clearly, Weber is creating a storied life. As she is designing both an electronic and a paper Professional Portfolio as a final coursework project, she is building a business. "This has been a scary, crazy ride," she said, "but in the best way possible!"

 
 

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