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Local PTA president runs successful business

Being a parent is not a simple task, and families with two working parents are no longer rare. Ann Flaws is one local parent who knows how to balance her own business with a very hands-on approach to her children’s education.

Ann said her parents, Fred and Claudia Tessmer, inspired her. Ann was born in Fridley, one of three children. She was the last born and the only daughter, and during her early years the family moved a lot.

By fifth grade Ann had moved from the Twin Cities to North Dakota, and then to Deerwood where her father, a pastor, worked at Salem Lutheran Church.

No matter how much moving they did, and no matter how busy life got, the family was always active in the community and close with one another.

“We did lots of family driving vacations together,” she said. “I was very involved in youth groups. We did lots of youth group trips.”

Today, a mother of two daughters — Elisa, 8, and Emma, 6 — Ann uses her upbringing as an example of how to raise her own family. Ann is very closely involved in her daughters’ lives, and the Flaws family remains active. During the winter they ice fish, cross country ski, ice skate and snow shoe; during the summer they don’t slow down either.

“We do a lot of boating. We do wakeboarding and knee boarding and tubing,” she said. “We camp almost every single weekend in the summer.”

Ann’s involvement in her daughters’ lives doesn’t stop with outdoor activities. Ann’s daughters are basketball players, Girl Scouts and Elisa plays guitar. Through all of that Ann is by their sides.

Four years ago Ann joined the Pequot Lakes PTA to help support her daughters’ school. Since that time, she has served as fundraising chair, president-elect and now as president.

Ann and her husband, Rick, still find time to run three businesses: Evergreen Graphic Design, Evergreen Electric and Evergreen Storage. Of these businesses, Evergreen Graphic Design is Ann’s third child.

Ann first became interested in graphic design when she took a class in 10th grade. From then on she was hooked. After high school, Ann took a six-month course in graphic design at the School of Communication Arts in Minneapolis. After college she worked as a blackjack dealer at Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

“That’s kind of how I worked my way into their marketing department,” she said.

Ann worked her way up to become graphic designer for Grand Casino, and from there she moved on to work as a graphic designer with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber in 2000. When Ann had her youngest child, Emma, she moved her graphic design business into her home, and it began to grow from there.

Ann’s work can be seen in a variety of places. She still designs event logos for the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, but she also does work for Wooded River, Breezy Point, and a business called Ultra Paws. She also uses her business talents to design products for the PTA.

Today, the family ties from Ann’s youth have remained important to her. Ann’s parents, now both pastors and both retired, live on a lake near Deerwood where they once had a cabin. This is often where Ann, Rick, Elisa and Emma go to camp with her parents and her brothers. Ann and her family also live close to Rick’s family, a tie that Ann considers important in her daughters’ upbringing.

Overall, Ann’s family is like others in the area. She is a business owner and an active mother, but she is a good example of both.

“I have always wanted to be a mom and a wife, so I would say those are my greatest accomplishments,” Ann said.