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Stephanie Ross and Wendy Lutter, Empoword: Notable Minnesota Moms


by Julie Burton

"People need inspiration. In our busy, crazy lives, we need something to focus on that helps us smile throughout the day," says Wendy Lutter, co-founder of Empoword (pronounced empowered), a product-based business that uses words to promote positive thoughts and actions.

Wendy and co-founder, Stephanie Ross, light up as they share stories of how their Empoword products have made a difference in peoples' lives, which is the main goal of the two women. Whether it is a woman who has had trouble walking for years and starts using her "strength" water bottle every day and is now taking regular walks around the lake; or Wendy's 11-year-old son, Tate, who has Asperger's and uses an Empoword removable sticker cling on his locker at school to help him with his social skills. Tate came home from school one day and told his mom he needed a "breathe" cling for his locker. He wrote about how the sight of the cling helps him stay calm: "...whenever I am about to blow a fuse [on] someone, I ask to go to my locker...I open my locker door and look at the breathe cling that I stuck on the door. As I grab my colored pencils, I take one last glance and slam the door. I go back to class and live my life, I have remembered to breathe and use my words."

"The mind is the most powerful medicine," says Stephanie, who has used her mind to heal herself physically and mentally throughout much of her life. Her first epiphany happened when she was 16 and was critically ill. She visualized herself getting better and not needing the IV that she absolutely dreaded. Despite the fact that the doctors said she would need the IV for days, and that she wouldn't go home for weeks, the IV was removed sooner than planned and Stephanie was released from the hospital ahead of schedule.

Stephanie did not seriously revisit this mind/body connection concept until eight years ago when her mother died of ovarian cancer on Mother's Day. Toward the end of her mother's life, her mom began exploring alternative treatments that focused on using the mind to heal, but found it overwhelming. At that time, Stephanie did not have the tools to help her mom, but from that point on, it became her quest to learn more about holistic wellness.

She went back to school at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and is completing an MA in Human Development with a concentration on using intuitive and creative processes in healing. Through all her education, life experiences, and consultations with her clients (she works in private practice as an intuitive healer - www.intuitivehealthmanagement.com), she realized that people need support and inspiration to help sustain their journey, and overcome obstacles. Stephanie came up with the Empoword concept to help people find an easy way to stay mindful throughout the day. Stephanie explains that if you are trying to lose weight, fight cancer, get through a difficult time in a relationship, or if you simply need to breathe more deeply and reduce stress, the Empoword products can help guide you. According to Stephanie, Empoword products offer "on-the-go self-help."

From the get-go Stephanie knew that she wanted some support with developing Empoword so she shared her ideas with her long-time friend Wendy, whose background is in marketing and who has run her own consulting firm in qualitative research for the past 11 years. Wendy hopped on board with great enthusiasm and commitment. Using the power of words to inspire and direct her for her whole life, Wendy wholeheartedly believed that Stephanie was onto something. Wendy used words as mantras while running competitively in high school and college; she uses words (strength, balance, breathe, focus) while dealing with her son's Asperger's; when her father was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer several years ago, she helped her him focus on power of positive thinking and the importance of using words as a method for healing . "Words matter. One word can change your whole attitude and outlook," says Wendy.

These women are passionate. They are bright. They want to spread the word (Empoword, that is). And they are doing just that. Their products, including water bottles, t-shirts, clings, greeting cards, and mugs can be found online at ThinkEmpoword and at the following local stores: Acupuncture in the Park, St. Louis Park; Bachman's, Twin City locations; The Bibelot on Grand, St. Paul; Butterfly Life, Minnetonka; Fairy Godmother, Minneapolis; Fraser (non-profit organization), Minneapolis; Infinite Light Wellness Center, Elk River; Inner Strength Fitness, Minneapolis; The Marsh, Minnetonka; SaraCura, Minneapolis; Shorty's Loft, St. Louis Park; Survivors' Studio, White Bear Lake; The Sweatshop, St. Paul; and Tangletown Gardens, Minneapolis.

Both multi-tasking queens, Stephanie and Wendy are trying to scale back in other areas of their lives so they can focus more time and energy on Empoword. Wendy recently left a part-time marketing job at her kids' school, but continues to take on consulting jobs for Lutter Marketing. Stephanie is in the final stages of writing her Master's thesis. Both women enjoy the flexibility of their work which enables them to pick up their kids from school and be available to them (until 11 pm, when they often get back to work). Stephanie has 14-year-old twin daughters, Emily and Heather, and Wendy is mom to Tate and nine-year-old Paige.

Stephanie lives with her daughters in St. Paul, and Wendy lives with her husband, son, and daughter just a mile from Stephanie.

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, MomShare,

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New FeatureRelated Articles: Notable Minnesota Moms:Kristi Anderson and Stephanie Nelson, Notable Minnesota Moms: Elisa Knudson,

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