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Moorhead native turns quest for perfect headband into $2 million business – INFORUM04.22.21

But somehow, at not quite 30, she's become all three.

Leah, a 2009 Moorhead High graduate, actually started out on a completely different path: She was studying to become a food scientist and professor at North Dakota State University.

But she had a small problem: She couldn't find a comfortable, good-looking headband to keep her hair out of her eyes while she pursued a demanding schedule of classes, labs and studying.

Finally, she decided to make her own headband, so she lugged mom Yvonne's old Kenmore sewing machine out of storage and made a trip to a local fabric store.

After some experimentation, Leah stitched up a headband that checked all the boxes. It was comfortable, it stayed put and it was fashion-forward - with a jaunty knot on top.

Leah Kay Krabbenhofts first headband is seen next to a photo of her as a child wearing it on Thursday, April 1, 2021, at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. Krabbenhoft now owns a successful headband business called Soulvation Society.Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

Friends and acquaintances so liked Leah's headbands that they asked if she could make some for them. She gave the first ones away, but as the requests increased, she realized she could parlay her hobby into a side hustle.

That was five years ago. Today, Leah's Soulvation Society brand has blossomed into a 100% self-funded, woman-owned brand with over $2 million in sales and zero debt.

And Leah may be one of the few fashion mavens out there who could also give a lecture on carbohydrate chemistry. "Food science was a great field to be in," she says. "I had a great professor, it was a great program and I loved it. But I just had an itch just to make a brand, or just to make something for myself."

She certainly succeeded. Articles on Soulvation's story and products have been featured in Forbes, Cosmopolitan, NBC, CBS, the Chicago Weekly and Oxygen magazine. Her product is sold through retail sites like FreePeople, which reflects her boho-chic vibe.

And her product has received thousands of glowing Instagram mentions ranging from millennial social-media influencers to nurses who rave about the headbands ultra-soft feel.

In fact, Soulvation Society's website champions itself as the "Home of the butter-soft headbands.

Leah Kay Krabbenhoft, the owner of Soulvation Society, shows off her tattoo that matches the brands logo on Thursday, April 1, 2021, at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. Krabbenhoft says that the arrows signify following your own path, and to keep moving forward regardless of what life throws in your way.Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

The Denver-based company has expanded its product line to scrunchies, bandanas, turbands (a turban-headband hybrid) and their bestselling hair-ties, which double as boho-style bracelets (that's another Leah innovation.)

The last year's success hit so suddenly that Leah admits it hasn't fully registered yet. "It doesn't feel like it, even to this day," she says. "It still feels like I'm at home, sewing headbands, trying to make it work."

Yvonne and Jon Krabbenhoft, a technical communicator at Butler Machinery, Fargo, had always instilled values of persistence, resourcefulness and high achievement in their three children.

"If you want something, you go out and earn it," says Yvonne, who was a stay-at-home mom. "Nothing was handed to them."

Even so, they didn't expect Leah to become a fashion entrepreneur. Their middle child was bright and conscientious - but also quite shy. Early on, Yvonne enrolled her in the Bonnie Haney School of Dance, which helped her develop more confidence and discipline.

This would come in handy during graduate school, when the naturally introverted Leah found herself expected to give presentations and constantly push outside her comfort zone. The demands of the program instilled her with qualities that would prove invaluable for an entrepreneur, including resiliency, consistency and the need to research every detail relentlessly.

"It gave me the mindset that I can do hard things," she says.

Long before she realized it, a seed of entrepreneurial spirit was stirring deep inside of her. Years before she started her own business, one of Leah's favorite shows was "Shark Tank." Whenever people asked her if she would ever appear on the program as a contestant, Leah responded: "I don't want to go on there asking for money. If I'm going to go on there, I want to be a shark."

Once she started making headbands, she discovered a way to raise spending money during grad school. Students in the program were typically discouraged from working jobs because the coursework was so demanding. "I thought, 'OK, they tell me I can't have a job, but they didn't say anything about opening a business, so that's what I'm going to do," she says.

The first iteration of her business was launched with her mom's trusty sewing machine and a $300 investment that covered fabric costs and a build-your-own Shopify website.

But as her side hustle slowly grew, Leah sensed that she could make it work as a full-time gig. She recalls feeling scared to tell her mother, after spending all those years earning a master's and then being accepted into the doctoral program.

Leah Kay Krabbenhoft, owner of Soulvation Society, stands with a photo of herself as a child in her first headband while she models one of her own Soulvation-brand headbands on Thursday, April 1, 2021 at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo.Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

"I took my mom to Atomic Coffee and I remember sitting down and saying: 'Mom, I'm going to leave school and I'm going to move to Denver and I'm going to make something of myself."

Yvonne was surprised, but she also believed in her daughter. If it didn't work, Yvonne thought, Leah still had her education and potential for a food-science career. "She said that she knew she could build this brand and when she said that, I thought, 'If you don't do it, you'll regret it,'" Yvonne recalls. "So my advice was: 'You'd better go for your dream.'"

It wasn't easy to leave her family and academic life behind, but Leah pushed through the fear. She settled in the Mile-High City because her best friend from high school, Ashley Stalboerger, had already moved there, it had a centralized location and she loved the area's beauty and four-season weather.

In the beginning, Leah worked out of her own apartment, diligently sewing headbands, mailing out orders, and reinvesting profits into the business to help it grow.

And then .... COVID. Leah was in the midst of looking for new manufacturers and a better fabric when the world seemed to screech to a halt. The supply chain dried up, as did her inventory. "We were actually out of inventory four months because of the pandemic," she says. "We had hardly any sales."

Amid all this, Leah found the fabric that changed everything: a kitten-soft bamboo-spandex. When these "butter-soft" pieces hit the website, customers clamored for them. People eagerly snatched up the headbands, retailing at $15.20 per headband or $54.20 for a five-pack. Sales skyrocketed from $120,000 in 2019 to last year's $2 million mark.

Even at this point, Leah remained a one-person operation.

"I was hand-sewing everything," she says. "My entire room was all fabric and a sewing machine and my bed. That was it."

Leah quickly realized she needed help - even if it meant giving up some control. "I was such a perfectionist," she says. "The sewing had to be perfect, the shipping had to be perfect. So slowly transitioning and hiring help was scary because it was my brand. I wanted to do it how I wanted it. But then I was like, 'If I want to grow this, I need help.'"

Today, Leah's Soulvation Society employs eight people, has moved manufacturing to China and includes a 3,000-square-foot warehouse for inventory.

Various Soulvation Society headbands, hair ties and scrunchies are seen on Thursday, April 1, 2021, at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo.Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

As Soulvation's marketing grew, Leah and her team knew they needed a great logo. Something simple, but also distinctive, memorable and representative of the company. It turned out that Leah already had one at her fingers - literally. Before she moved to Denver, she had gotten a small tattoo on her finger to remind her to keep moving forward, no matter what: two arrows - pointing straight up. That same symbol now graces every Soulvation product.

Despite Leah's talk of sharks, she remains charmingly down to earth even after her newfound success. "I'm definitely more of a Barbara," she laughs, referring to Barbara Corcoran, one of the less vicious "Shark Tank" judges. The 29-year-old has moved from a workroom/apartment to a townhouse with Mercedes, a personable French bulldog, and her boyfriend, Matt Hyder, another entrepreneur who launched the Recoup Cryosphere, an ice-cold massage roller for muscle injuries.

One gets the feeling that Leah is just getting started. Bolstered by her recent achievements and the energy of youth, she is also designing a line of boutique clothing, patterned after her trademark boho aesthetic. In fact, she wears one item from the clothing line during her interview: a relaxed, button-down, white-and-black windowpane-plaid shirt in a soft, cozy fabric.

"Still to this day, I hate wearing high heels," she says. "If it's uncomfortable, I don't want to wear it. The clothing line is very similar: very comfortable, but you still look very cute."

She's also ready to contribute to her community, and plans to donate headbands to the nurses at Sanford Health. The generous act aligns with lessons learned from her parents on the importance of staying humble, giving back and treating people right, no matter what. "You still have to have that humble attitude and be grateful," Yvonne says.

Leah's generosity extends to a willingness to share what she's learned. She is developing an e-commerce course, which will demonstrate how to build a successful start-up, including insight on how to "snowball" growth to minimize debt.

"In a very weird way, I guess I still did becme a professor," she says, smiling.

Find Leah's products at


Moorhead native turns quest for perfect headband into $2 million business - INFORUM

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Most states require face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These are the ones that dont – Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News12.11.20

(CNN) While health officials agree face masks help prevent thespread of Covid-19, state and local governments have varied widely on implementation of mask rules. Now, President-elect Joe Biden wants to change that.

RELATED: Markey bill incentivizes state mask mandates

Bidens office has released plans that his administrationintends to implement in the beginningof his term, and one is a national mask mandate by working with governors and mayors.

Most states already have some type of mask mandate, but some have no statewide rule either leaving it as a recommendation or giving the authority to local officials.

Three states recently added face mask mandates: North Dakota, Iowa and Montana. Montanas goes into effect November 20.

On November 13, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced a new measure requiring face coverings in indoor businesses and indoor public settings as well as outdoor public settings where physical distancing isnt possible. The order is effective through December 13.

And on November 16, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation that requires a face mask when people are in an indoor public space and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday said she is issuing anupdated versionof a previous executive order on masks. The new protocol will create a standard for the state, but also gives communities the ownership and flexibility to decide how best to implement it, Kelly said at a news conference.

Here are the states with no statewide mask requirement.


Alaska does not require the use of masks, limit group size or business operations. All the state does is encourage Alaskans to do their part tolimit the spread of Covid-19, recommending that residents practice social distancing and wear a mask, without any mandate.

The mayor of Anchorage, though,has signed an orderrequiring people to wear face coverings in public.


Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, allows individual counties to mandate a mask, but does not have a statewide initiative. Scottsdale was the first to make masks mandatory starting June 19. Other major municipalities with requirements include Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.


There is no statewide mask requirement, yet some local municipalities have their own mandates.


Statewide, masks are requiredfor some essential employees, including restaurants and personal care services employees.

Meanwhile, several counties and cities have mask mandates.


The state does not have a statewide requirement, but several local municipalities do, including Boise.


On September 4, Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, lifted the state face covering requirement.

Just over a month later and amid rising case numbers, Reeves signedan executive orderrequiring face coverings in counties with higher Covid-19 case numbers. The Safe Recovery executive order is in effect through December 11 and includes 22 of the states 82 counties.


The state does not have a statewide requirement, but several local municipalities do.


There is no statewide mandate, but clients and staff inbarbershops, salons,tattoo parlorsandmassage parlorsmust wear masks, as part of the current Directed Health Measure requirements.


The city council in Oklahoma City voted in a special meetingin July to approve an emergency public safety ordinance requiring face coverings in indoor public places throughout Oklahoma City.

South Carolina

Several counties and cities, including Charleston and Columbia, have mask mandates.

South Dakota

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has takena hands-off approachto Covid-19. In October, she wrote in an op-ed that the government should not mandate a mask requirement.

As Ive said before, if folks want to wear a mask, they should be free to do so, she wrote. Similarly, those who dont want to wear a mask shouldnt be shamed into wearing one.

South Dakota is second only to North Dakota in the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.


Though there is no statewide mandate, Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed an executive order granting the mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue mask requirements.


Though there is no statewide mandate, Laramie County, home to the capital city Cheyenne, has a mask requirement that went into effect on November 1. However, accordingto CNN affiliate KGWN, the countys district attorneys office has said violations of the mandate will not be prosecuted.

In a speech Monday, Biden implored Americans to stop politicizing masks and social distancing.

Please, I implore you, wear a mask, the President-elect said. Do it for yourself, do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement but it is a way to start pulling the country together.

During the campaign, Biden spoke of his plan to issue a nationwide mask mandate. Doing so could bechallenged in court,though, and in October Biden said he would go to every governor and urge them to issue mask mandates.

And if they refuse, Ill go to the mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place nationwide, he said.

Because the virus is mainly airborne, face masks are the most effective way to stop person-to-person spread of Covid-19,studies have shown.

Wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, prior to the development of a vaccine, researchers in Texas and California wrote back in June.

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Most states require face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These are the ones that dont - Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News

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