Retail Connect: Featured Speakers

Retail Connect 2017

Risk and Growth in a Global Economy

Thursday, October 26, 2017
5 PM Registration/Reception, 6 PM Program
8:20-8:45 PM Screening: Small Business Revolution – Main Street Episode 6 "Polka Dot Parlor"
Memorial Hall, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 SE Oak St, Minneapolis, MN

Information and Registration

Amanda Brinkman

Amanda K. Brinkman (Moderator and Opening Speaker)

Chief Brand and Communications Officer, Deluxe Corporation

Amanda Brinkman makes the Energizer Bunny look lethargic. Fueled by Diet Cherry Coke and a meticulous daily water intake, she is a revolutionary brand marketer, passionate speaker, and the creator, producer, and co-host of the acclaimed Small Business Revolution – Main Street series on Hulu and Each season, Amanda, her team at Deluxe Corp., and her co-host, Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec, provide a $500,000 transformation to inspiring small towns.

Before Deluxe, Amanda’s career kicked into overdrive at top ad agencies Fallon, Cohn & Wolfe London and McCann with campaigns for over a dozen brands such as Virgin Mobile, Reebok, NYSE, Colgate-Palmolive, H&R Block and her favorite client of all time - BMW on breakthrough work like the BMW Films. She then carved out a niche as an “intrapreneur,” cultivating creativity from the inside out at General Mills, Allianz and UnitedHealth Group. Amanda also serves on the boards of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Make-A-Wish, The Children's Theatre Company and the Women's Business Development Center—Chicago, and volunteers for countless causes. “Thank you” consumes her word cloud, as she is definitely strong in “words of affirmation” as she lives with the mission to encourage others at all times. She is a trusted media source and a sought-after speaker, sharing her “marketing for good” mantra before audiences large and small. When not traversing the world, she does what she loves most: spend time with her spirited daughter, hilarious husband, and their adorable dog.

[back to top]

Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke (MBA ’97)

Founder and CEO, Ovative/group

Dale is founder and CEO of Ovative/group. He brings passion, expertise, and years of experience in leveraging customer data to drive business results. He formed Ovative to address the growing need in the market to understand digital media’s impact on enterprise results vs. single channel and to act on that view through digital media and experience optimization. He felt there was a gap in the market between consulting/agency/data houses that modern marketing approaches demand and Ovative provides. His goal is encompassed in Ovative’s mission, to “fearlessly unlock potential” in his team, in each client relationship, and in the community. Prior to Ovative/group, Dale spent eight years as President of and was responsible for driving Target’s guest data initiatives. He also spent time within Dayton Hudson Department Stores as a leader in merchandising. Dale enjoys family, golf, travel, bourbon, beer, and his beloved Wisconsin Badgers.

[back to top]

Ben VandenWymelenberg

Ben VandenWymelenberg (BS ’12 Architecture)

Founder and CEO, WOODCHUCK

Ben is an entrepreneur, designer, speaker, and extreme adventure enthusiast dedicated to bringing jobs back to America by creating brands that source USA made products, and by understanding the long-term economic benefits to rebuilding the American economy.

Founder and CEO of WOODCHUCK, Ben took this USA-made brand from concept to big box retail shelves in just one year, gaining attention from sources such as the Business Upstart Journal, LA Times, and the Wall Street Journal. WOODCHUCK now plants one tree for every product they sell. To date, they have reforested over 1.5 million trees and created over 50 local Minnesota jobs.

Ben is also the co-founder of NORTH Co-working, a co-working facility in Minneapolis that supports and promotes entrepreneurs throughout the Midwest, and WORKBENCH STUDIOS, an agency specializing in building USA made brands that are e-commerce based. Clients range from startups to big box as well as mass market clients such as Toni Ko (Forbes 2016 7th Wealthiest Women).

A featured speaker at the National CEO conference and other events, Ben is sought after for insights on manufacturing, entrepreneurship, and green design, and has received recognition as a “40 under 40” entrepreneur, Minnesota Cup General Division Winner, MN’s REAL POWER 50, and “32 under 32” by the MN Ad Federation.

If you are looking to go fly planes, jump off cliffs, race motorcycles, camp, and then talk business strategy—he's your guy.

[back to top]

Michele Henry and Wesley Uthus

Michele Henry and Wesley Uthus (BS '08 Apparel Design)

Co-founders of Primp Boutique

Michele Henry and Wesley Uthus are the co-founders of Primp Boutique, a Minneapolis-based women’s retailer specializing in clothing under $100. Wesley graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Design in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in apparel design and art. Michele graduated from St. Thomas and St. Catherine University in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in apparel design and retail merchandising. Wesley and Michele opened Primp in St. Paul, Minnesota in September 2010 and have since expanded to nine store locations throughout Minnesota and South Dakota.

[back to top]


platinum sponsor
Decor Global
bronze sponsors
Best Buy Logo Merchology Logo