Sarah Hokuf wins Entrepreneur of the Year Award

To all the hard working entrepreneurs I’ve met through Evolve Creative, this one's for you!

Badge Entrepreneur of the YearEntrepreneurs are the backbone of our country. Look at all the products and services we have that make our lives easier. I’m sure many of these businesses almost never happened, or failed several times and then finally they worked out and now are here for centuries for all of us to enjoy.  Inventors create or discover a new method or device, but it takes an entrepreneur to get that invention into the hands of the public. An entrepreneur identifies a need and fills it. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services, and business.

I’m writing this article days before the announcement of an award that took years to accomplish. I was voted Entrepreneur of the Year from the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce. I’m very proud to be recognized in our community and happy to stand side-by-side with others who deserve the same award. We are each other’s support, mentor, adviser, and cheerleader. I’m proud of all of you that keep on going! 

"The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who possess grit. Grit is made up of persistence, passion and resilience. It's the passion to achieve long-term goals, the courage to try again in the face of rejection, and the will to do something better than it has been done before. The most successful entrepreneurs tend to be gritty ones … they do not give up until they exceed their goals. When the going gets tough and they get knocked down, gritty entrepreneurs bounce right back up and try again." ~ Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation (Excerpt from Business News Daily)

Living an entrepreneurial life is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. While others were out playing, I’ve spent many nights and weekends working to finish a project or complete a deadline. I’ve had to juggle being a mom (with all my mom duties) with being a business owner and managing employees AND clients. I started my web design agency, Evolve Creative, in Chaska, Minnesota, back in 2004 when the internet was just starting and the same year Facebook came into existence. In my early 20’s I was working as an Advertising Supervisor at Northern Tool & Equipment while I went to school at night to get my Web Design degree. I loved design but my nerdy side loved web development even more! So I left the corporate world to build websites for businesses that didn’t even have a website yet. It took off during the dot-com bubble! I worked for 10 years by myself, moving around and bringing my business with me. 

I had freedom and flexibility, two things I don’t ever want to live without. I also didn’t always know when the next paycheck would come and had to have lawyers send letters to clients who wouldn’t pay their invoices (which had nothing to do with the work I provided). It hasn’t been easy but I wouldn’t have chosen a different path if I had the choice. 

In the Fall of 2019 I was approached by two other joint Bemidji businesses to sell Evolve Creative. I have a talented team of designers and developers who have made us stand out in the industry! After looking at all the advantages and variables, I decided this was a good direction. As of 2020, I’m now partnered with LaValley Industries and the Occupational Development Center. Evolve started with four full-time employees and now we have nine!

I’m married and have two kids still in Elementary school. My husband is also an entrepreneur and runs a very successful business, AirCorps Aviation. We both serve on other community boards and local groups. Our conversations at the dinner table are usually not about movies, tv shows, or the dishes. We thrive on talking about solutions to challenges we see in business and society. My kids are my number one priority and we give them plenty of opportunity to talk about their interests—but they do get an earful of business talk. They’re smart little cookies and often give us new ideas with their open minds and creative nature. While others raise athletes, we are raising entrepreneurs. As part of this learning process, my family decided to enter the 2019 IDEA competition to teach the kids how to start an online business. We formed Silver Wings Coffee and we included our 7 and 9 year old in every step of the process. We used a coffee roaster in Texas and then used our marketing experience to design a brand and sell the coffee and apparel on an ecommerce website. A big part of the mission was to gather stories about men and women in World War II, which we made into articles and put on the blog. We had customers all over the world! The kids helped with packaging the orders and shipping them out. After the Evolve Creative business merger life got too busy and we had to stop selling the coffee. We kept the blog alive and still have happy readers commenting about the heroes!

The small businesses we work with at Evolve are run by motivated entrepreneurs. They have the determination to grow their business despite all the challenges they face. Evolve Creative is here to support them with creative solutions to help them gain brand awareness. Need some advice or want to chat about your new idea - send me a message. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work!



  1. Andrew Pietenpol on September 22, 2020 at 11:53 am

    I can’t think of a more deserving person than Sarah to receive the 2020 Entrepreneur of the year award.

    There is a clear reason why I chose Sarah Hokuf of EVOLVE CREATIVE to partner with my business, and a clear reason why I have kept this business relationship for 8 years – Sarah is the BEST.

    Sarah makes my business and every business she partners with shine above the rest. Over the years I have witnessed Sarah living an entrepreneurial life. Years of her support, mentorship, and advice has kept my business humming!

    The city of Bemidji is fortunate to have an entrepreneur of Sarah Hokof’s caliber.

    Congratulations Sarah!

  2. Paul on September 24, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    What a great achievement Sarah! Congratulations and keep up the incredible work. Your fellow “Hawk”. -Paul Canfield

  3. Sarah Hokuf on September 25, 2020 at 9:05 am

    Thanks Paul! I’ve actually worked with a lot of “Hawks” who now run their own business! It would be cool to find out how many.