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“I started working on it about a year ago, it was winter and I needed something to spark my creativity. I noticed when I moved to Fargo the love of bison and the team, the local support, I wanted to do something to celebrate that. I wasn’t sure what, maybe a fine art piece with no name or anything like that. I was in such a creative space I didn’t know what I had. My husband thought it was great. In January (2017) we had our first showing with Grain Designs, a company that makes signaled with reclaimed wood. Because of my work with Fashion Week in Minot, Dak became apparel.”
Kayla Cote van Rensburg, owner Dak & Co.

University Communications

Spark of creativity spawns new company

FARGO, N.D. – Kayla Cote van Rensburg ’11 was in such a creative space she almost didn’t see the symbol of her company right before her eyes.

But after she and her husband, Piet van Rensburg, took a look at what would become the character of Dak, a stylized bison with the name “FARGO” in the body, they knew they were onto something special.

“I started working on it about a year ago, it was winter and I needed something to spark my creativity,” she said. “I noticed when I moved to Fargo the love of bison and the team, the local support, I wanted to do something to celebrate that. I wasn’t sure what, maybe a fine art piece with no name or anything like that. I was in such a creative space I didn’t know what I had.

“My husband thought it was great. In January (2017) we had our first showing with Grain Designs, a company that makes signage with reclaimed wood. Because of my work with Fashion Week in Minot, Dak became apparel.”

With that, Dak & Co. was born. Cote van Rensburg began her career in Fargo with Cote Creative, a marketing consulting firm, but now splits time with both companies. Juggling the duties of manager and client at the same time can be difficult.

“It’s been challenging,” she said. “It is really different creating for yourself. It’s a different dynamic. I have to remember to be a good client and give myself the information I need. It’s been fun. It’s fun to have Piet on board. He’s analytical and has structure. That is a good balance for me. It’s fun to bounce ideas off him. We have learned a lot focusing on brand development.”

She credits her time with Minot State’s student government in helping her move her career forward and praised MSU professors Bill Harbort and Linda Olson ’84 for getting her entrepreneurial spirit going.

“Student government helped me be such a well-rounded student,” she said. “I can remember being in the art department and listening to Bill Harbort and his ventures and creative businesses, and I took an advanced student course with Linda Olson on jewelry making. She helped me with my senior showcase and I started out with a small jewelry company. Minot State definitely was a great confidence booster.”

Cote van Rensburg, a Willow City, N.D., native who majored in art with an emphasis on graphic design and minored in marketing, believes the climate is right to expand her business.

“We are working on our online presence and want to grow and develop new items to make, we will make the apparel for sure, but work on other products. We hope to do some ‘pop-ups’ in North Dakota and maybe Minnesota,” she said. “I feel like the whole startup community is taking over the region. There are so many resources at our fingertips — the internet has enabled startups to have a lot of success.”

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Published: 03/21/18



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