Caroline Hayden LLC, Real Good Bath and Body take home top prize of $10,000

    The IDEA Competition, a program of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation held its 10th Annual IDEA Competition Awards Banquet Monday in Bemidji, and it was a big night for two Crookston entrepreneurs and business innovators, as businesses launched by Caroline Hayden and Carol Simmons took home two of the three top prizes of $10,000.

    The event took place at Bemidji State University’s Beaux Arts Ballroom.

    “We have been fortunate in prior years to have some great winners, and we added to that list this week. It was a great night for Crookston,” said Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority Executive Director Craig Hoiseth, who attended Tuesday’s banquet. “Both Carol and Caroline were so excited and I was thankful to have the opportunity to support them.  Both are class acts, have great businesses and we are lucky to have them calling Crookston home.”

    The following businesses were named the 2018 winners of the IDEA Competition:

    • Caroline Hayden LLC – Caroline Hayden, Crookston: After 12 years of working with brides on custom gowns, Caroline launched a collection in 2016 and was named “Bridal’s New Guard” by Harper’s Bazaar magazine. Her collections take aim at a growing market need for fashion focused bridal gowns and separates that can be ordered in sizes 0-12 and sold via bridal boutiques and online luxury retailers.

    • Real Good Bath and Body – Carol Simmons, Crookston: high quality, nature-based, handmade soaps, bath bombs, lotions, and other bath and body products. The business began as a hobby in the Crookston, Minnesota kitchen of Carol Simmons and has grown to include retail locations in Beijing, China as well as retail locations in Minnesota and North Dakota. They also donate to worthy causes with every purchase.

    • Safe-D-Transfer – Duane Lillevold and Bryan Hammitt, Bemidji: Specialized equipment for patient transfer in the healthcare industry that alleviates the pain that normally accompanies patient transfer when done by human to human contact.

    These winners receive $10,000 in cash, along with valuable business coaching and consulting.

    The runners-up were:

    • Boffins Technology – Michael Hendricks, Bemidji
    • EthnoTrax – Dave Wall, Bemidji
    • Summer Kitchen Supplies Inc – Mark Schultz, Bemidji

    The runners-up receive $1,000 in cash. EthnoTrax also took home the MN Cup Award, which includes an automatic entry into the MN Cup competition semifinal round. The MN Cup competition is the premier resource for early state entrepreneurs, supporting and accelerating the development of breakthrough business ideas across Minnesota.

    In addition to the competition winners, Grant Oppegaard was honored with the Regional Impact Award for his years of service as a consultant with the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The Batchelder family, owners of the Bemidji Woolen Mills, were also honored with the 2018 IDEA Hall of Fame award.

    For additional information about the winners, their businesses, and the IDEA Competition, visit

    IDEA has been made possible by contributions of the following sponsors: Northwest Minnesota Foundation, University of Minnesota Crookston, Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, Bremer Bank of Crookston and Warren, Security Bank USA, America’s SBDC of Minnesota, Minnkota Power, Paul Bunyan Communications, Border State Bank, First National Bank of Mahnomen, Otter Tail Power Company, Headwaters Regional Development Commission, LaunchPad, Northwest Regional Development Commission and Red Lake Electric Cooperative, Inc.