The Minnesota School of Business-Plymouth (MSB) campus will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first graduating class this June. Appropriately, the campus will be holding the graduation ceremony at the same location (Plymouth Creek Center) and feature the same keynote speaker (Plymouth City Council member Judy Johnson) as the inaugural commencement ceremony. Campus Community Manager Matt Marek is tracking down all nine members of that first graduating class to tell their stories, and catch up with this trailblazing group of graduates.If there’s one thing that I have enjoyed about this series, it’s the unknown. For the most part, I have no clue where these nine women are, or what they have been doing for the last decade. I’m feeling more and more like a detective with each and every phone call, Google search, and social media scouring session.
One of those Google searches turned up Golden Touch Therapeutic Massage – a home-based business registered to Pat Baune (now Piker), a member of our original graduating class.
Thankfully, a phone number was listed. During my formative years, I did plenty of cold calling for my local university’s social science research department, so dialing random phone numbers is nothing new to me. Naturally, I botched the call from the beginning.
Me: Um…um….hello, Pat…Patricia…Patty…is this Patricia Baune…the Pat Baune that graduated from Minnesota School of Business?
(I know…very professional)
Pat: Yes, yes…who is this?
Me: OH THANK GOD! (I said this by exhaling loudly into the receiver while trying to close the valve that opened my sweat glands)
Despite sounding like a complete lunatic, she agreed to let me come out to her home in Hutchinson, Minn., and talk about the past 10 years.
I knew, via the rest of our phone conversation, that Pat and her husband did some organic farming. Sure enough, as I made my way down to her basement, the walls were lined with plants of all sorts. Also there to greet me were several cats…of which Pat has 12 (I’ll get to that).
For the most part, the last 10 years have treated her well. Like many other graduates, her massage therapy degree has opened doors for her to pursue her career, and other ventures alongside of it, in her own way and on her own terms.
A Golden Touch
I have found that a lot of students and alums have been drawn to the massage therapy field through chance experiences or encounters. Pat’s intrigue came about the same way.
“I always wanted to do massage since my first son, Anthony, [now 28-years-old] was born,” she recalled. “He was 10 pounds, and afterwards my neck and back were hurting. A nurse came in and fixed both with massage. After that, I was interested for the next 18 years.”
When it came time to get Anthony ready for college, Pat decided it was her time as well.
“I was working at a production job and hated it,” she said. “I had worked there eight years and couldn’t do it anymore. I saw the ads on television and decided to check it out.”
Nine months later, she earned her massage diploma to become part of Plymouth’s first graduating class. Right away, she knew what she wanted to do.
“As soon as I got done, I wanted to work out of my home, and possibly work somewhere else on the side,” she said.
It wasn’t long after that she was working at Keep in Touch Massage in Minnetonka. She wasn’t there very long, as the demands of her constantly growing customer base in Hutchinson kept her busy.
“How did you establish your client base,” I asked.
“I took two ads out in the paper right when I started out of my home,” Pat said. “It was word of mouth after that, and it just took off right away. That’s all the advertising I’ve ever done.”
I was also interested to find out that massage gave her more than a steady career and income. She met her husband Daniel, and they have been happily married for eight years.
“I actually met my husband when he came here for a massage,” she said. “I remember Dick [Miller, former instructor] saying ‘you never, ever date a client,’ but I made one, and only one exception!”
In addition to her massage business, Pat and her husband are avid organic farmers on their 10-acre parcel of land. Pat bought the property in 1994, and officially started Angel Natural Farms in 2008 with a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept.
“This was my plan when I bought the farm in ‘94’,” Pat said. “Customers pay ahead of time, a certain amount of shares, and each week they get a box of fresh vegetables from us. There’s nothing I don’t like about it…it’s a great energy being out on the farm.”
The five-acre field is dedicated to a variety of vegetables, while fruit trees and strawberry patches line the rest of the property. Now that her two sons have moved out, the back yard will be tilled up this spring to prep for more growing.
“For many years, the kids said I couldn’t touch it,” she laughed. “It was their ball field, golf course, you name it.”
Here, Kitty Kitty
As you read, Pat likes cats. “[My husband] loves the cats. He’s worse than I am,” she assured me.
Needless to say, she has a soft spot. She gave cats that were found freezing to death, in live traps and others that were essentially left for dead, the proper veterinary care, and loving homes.
The one problem? Finding homes for them all.
“We just ended up keeping all the cat’s that we couldn’t find homes for,” Pat said.
That amounted to twelve cats running around the Piker property.
“A lot of [my clients] say they like to come out here for their cat fix,” Pat laughed. “They can’t have them for one reason or another, so they love them….If people come out here they have to appreciate cats!”
A Leap Of Faith
Pat’s leap of faith to earn her massage therapy degree in 2003 has resulted in so much good, she told me.
“I wasn’t sure if I could do it [school] because I always panicked on tests,” she remembered. “The very first class I went to, I cried all the way home, I didn’t think I could do it. But with their (MSB staff) help, it was amazing. I would have never made it through without getting started with their help. They were great.”