Moms Who Make Duluth Series: Visionary Mariah McKechnie

A huge thank you to our sponsor, Krenzen, for working with us on the Moms Who Make Duluth Series.
Moms Who Make Duluth | Duluth Moms Blog

Moms Who Make Duluth is a monthly series featuring interviews with industrious, local women who are shaping the face of Duluth’s professional sphere while simultaneously raising their families. Duluth Moms Blog and Krenzen are delighted to highlight the positive impact working moms have on our community. We want you to get to know some of Duluth’s most notable women: professionals who balance work, community, civic engagement, and family.

Introducing... CEO Mariah McKechnie!

Make sure you’re sitting down with a warm cup of coffee while you read our interview with Mariah McKechnie. Simply hearing about her busy days running a thriving company and (often solo) parenting her twin daughters is enough to send most of us reaching for extra caffeine. Mariah, we are in awe of your amazing talents and drive to do it all!

Mariah, will you share some of your background with us?

Moms Who Make Duluth Series: Visionary Mariah McKechnie | Duluth Moms Blog

PC: Lindsay Brisbin Photography

I am the mother of identical twin daughters, wife of Nick–a husband who travels full-time–and the CEO and Visionary of Northland Special Events and its divisions, The Duluth Balloon Co. and Fleurtation. I spent my formative years growing up in North Dakota, but I have had a love affair with Duluth for as long as I can remember. I went to Middlebury College in Vermont, where I studied political science, French, and art history. After graduating, I worked for a management consulting firm in Washington D.C. and moonlighted as a wedding planner. Fast forward ten years and I’m living in one of my favorite places in the world with my dream job. I have to pinch myself sometimes to know it is all real!

Everything I’ve done in life lead me where I am right now and it has been a journey to remember. I once heard the motivational concept that “Progress = Happiness” and thought that this most perfectly describes me. I am always moving forward, creating, pushing boundaries, daring greatly. I rarely sit still and my next big idea is always right around the corner. It can be an exhausting lifestyle, especially while raising a family, so I work hard to take care of myself and find balance wherever I can. I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband who supports me and all my crazy notions and who has come to tolerate the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

My team at NSE surrounds me with their support, talents, and drive every day. These women in my life are truly the wind beneath my wings. They bring my ideas to reality and I am proud to be their leader. I hope I inspire my daughters to be strong, bold women making progress and happiness in the world. Next up: the launch of a new e-commerce event décor rental website. For the first time, Northland Special Events will open our Vault of treasures for rental on an individual item basis. This includes linens, vases, vintage décor items and so much more.

On to the questions!

What advice do you wish you could have given to your younger self?

I’d definitely tell my younger self to start running! I can’t believe I found out how much I love to run just two years ago. I think of all of the miles I could have logged in my twenties and I cringe. Oh well, better late than never! In general, I really try hard to live in the present. Spending too much time worrying about the past or the future doesn’t get me anywhere.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Considering I am known to take pretty major risks on a daily basis, it’s hard to choose! However,  I’d have to say the biggest risk was accepting my husband’s marriage proposal. We were best friends and roommates, but we’d never dated when he got down on one knee with his mother’s engagement ring. I told him if he was joking it wasn’t funny and he said, “I called your dad and asked his permission.” Fourteen months later we were married and we’ll celebrate twelve years of marriage next month. We’ve continued to take risks together ever since, I think it’s what keeps our marriage strong and always interesting!


What’s more difficult? Wrangling twins and a full cart in a Target parking lot or a bunch of balloons on a windy day?

Moms Who Make Duluth Series: Visionary Mariah McKechnie | Duluth Moms Blog

PC: Lindsay Brisbin Photography

This question instantly brought back some very hilarious memories! When the twins were toddlers the staff at Target used to see us coming and open up a separate checkout lane to get us out of there quickly. Now I have fantastic shopping buddies, so those days are behind us. I’d definitely have to say wrangling balloons can push me to my boiling point. I remember one delivery where I spent an hour untangling them. I made some major changes to the way we package balloons that day! It also reminded me of how valuable our delivery service is to clients. In that instance, I worried about those balloons and the client went about preparing for their party!



What is the most exciting thing about your job(s) right now? Most challenging?

After seven years as an entrepreneur at the helm of a rapidly growing business, I finally feel like I’ve found some balance between work and family. The most challenging will be maintaining that balance for more than a season! I’m excited to continue to grow the brand extensions we launched in 2017 – The Duluth Balloon Co. and Fleurtation. I’ve loved learning the ins and outs of an e-commerce focused business and it is exciting to be part of an ever changing downtown Duluth landscape. Staying relevant in the wedding industry is always challenging, so I continue to work towards staying ahead of trends and building industry relationships.

What is your family’s favorite way to relax together?

Our favorite place to be together as a family is on our front porch. We are out there no matter the weather and we always have a basket of wool blankets for when the temperature drops. We love watching the world go by and the girls love to “talk about the future.”  With my husband traveling for his job Monday-Thursday and my job taking me away most weekends, we really don’t get a ton of time with all four of us together. We’ve learned to seize every moment!

Overseeing three thriving businesses and raising twins must keep you extraordinarily busy. When you find yourself with a few moments to spare, what kinds of things do you like to do to get the most out of your “me” time?

My go-to place for “me” time has to be T.J. Maxx. I love wandering the aisles, hunting for deals and being inspired. I also love to run while listening to audio books – mainly business or personal growth inspired. This spring I took up yoga practice and I truly look forward to that hour every week where I can focus on my mind and my body.

Tell us your biggest joy and most challenging part of motherhood?

Moms Who Make Duluth Series: Visionary Mariah McKechnie | Duluth Moms Blog

PC: Lindsay Brisbin Photography

My biggest joy of motherhood is watching my daughters turn into beautiful people inside and out. They are truly my pride and joy. The challenging side is knowing that with twins I only have one chance to get things right! I don’t get a do-over with a younger child. It is also challenging raising identical twins who desperately want to have their own identities.


What is your favorite cheesy movie?

I love them all! Clueless was my first true love. I can remember seeing it in the theater like it was yesterday.

Name a favorite “hidden gem” Northshore spot.

Sitting in front of the lobby fireplace at Lutsen Resort in winter is one of my absolute happy places! It’s so cozy and serene.

Thank you, Mariah, for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. We can’t wait to support you and your businesses as they continue to flourish!

Stay Tuned!

Join us over the next few months as we get to know some of Duluth’s most notable women. Do you know a mom who is making waves in the community? Speaking out? Pushing for change, or implementing new and innovative ways to better our schools, neighborhoods, government, or commerce and agriculture? Drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know!

Did you miss our behind the scenes tour with Mariah in her new space? Check out our FB live we did with her in our new series, “Where in the City is Duluth Moms Blog?”

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