ABout Us



Owner, Instructor, and Anchor  -Katie is an all-around magician when it comes to breathing true life into the Sunrise Workshop.  It is not uncommon to find her working into the twilight in the garden, tending to the flowers, or to the vegetables she grows for her fantastic meals.  Having dirt under her fingernails is when she is happiest.

She is the “animal mama” that keeps our furry and feathered residents happy, healthy, and living their best life.  Whether it is making home made food for the dogs, tending to the chickens and ducks, or snuggling with the baby goats, her heart is securely wrapped around each of them.  The only time she has a frown, is when John stands guard at the door of the house and does not let her bring the fuzzy ones to bed.

With over thirty years as an expert in human resources & payroll, she has a keen attention to detail for the individual, and that makes her a natural for making each person’s experience a special one.  Her ability to listen often results in people lingering a bit longer when the weekend is over, because they feel as though they have gained a friend.

She’s John’s best friend, and from the very beginning of their relationship, she was all in.  It doesn’t matter if it’s hard or messy work, she knows how to roll up her sleeves and get the job done, yet at the same time, her love of beauty and comfort, have helped her create an awesome stress-free environment for learning and relaxation.



Owner, Instructor, and -If Katie is the breath and life of the Sunrise Workshop, then John is the mechanic that keeps the machine running.  His favorite place is in the workshop creating new things from old things and a little bit of thin air.  In the workshop, there is a good chance you will see tools that have been hand built by John.  A once popular AM radio talk show host often said “If it’s worth figuring out, it’s worth figuring out in the garage.”, That stuck with John, so his first question when he needs something is “Can I build it myself?”  For those who remember TV in the 80’s, Katie often refers to him as her MacGyver.

John is a Retired Navy Veteran who spent over twenty years with the famed Seabees – the Navy Construction Battalions – as a carpenter.  Over a quarter of his service was spent instructing other Seabees.  He now works as a project engineer designing and building fire trucks for the Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting industry.

John will tell you that his favorite moments as a teacher and instructor is when his students show understanding, or “get it”. That is what drives him to learn how to communicate with people on an individual level and show them that deep inside all of us is a craftsman or artist just waiting to show the world what they can do.


It all started with a chick… no, not Katie, a chicken, a cute, fuzzy, little, yellow, chicken.  John grew up as a typical city kid, in a typical city neighborhood, with a typical house and typical yard.  The idea of owning land was a bit foreign to him.  Katie grew up on the line where suburbs morphed into farms.  Her folks didn’t own land either, but there was a large pig farm as a next-door neighbor.  In 2014, when Katie and John started dating, he purchased a house in Elk River, on three acres at the end of a dead-end road close to the Elk River.  Even though he traveled the world with the Navy, it felt like the biggest place on earth.

Excited about the vast expanse that surrounded his castle, John was eager to do something, anything with it.  On his long drive home from work one day, he saw a sign for a farm and garden store and decided to check it out.  He left the store with a cardboard box containing seven brand spanking new little peeping chicks and absolutely no plan, knowledge, or skills on how to raise them.

When Katie stopped over, she was quite surprised to see a Rubbermaid tub in the corner of the kitchen.  The chicks wandering about inside their new home, warmed by a lamp and fed with an unending supply of feed.  Picking up a chick, her contemplations of seeking a different boyfriend melted away and she was hooked.

Weeks later, when the chicks started outgrowing their tub (and stinking up the joint), John decided he better get busy building the coop.  On a frigid December Saturday, he set out to start construction. Not long after the first lumber was measured and cut, John looked up to find Katie, dressed from head to toe in her cold weather clothes, holding a screw gun and a tape measure, demanding to be put to work.  It was this moment that Katie stole John’s heart and he fell in love.


The next summer, while enjoying a bonfire in the yard, not fifty feet from the coop, John asked Katie to marry him.


Over the next few years, Katie and John found more enjoyment from watching the chickens than they could have imagined.  John built a small workshop next to the garage out of an attached carport where they would spend their spare time learning and working on projects.  It did not take long for their conversations to turn to fantasy.  They dreamed of a place where people would come and hang out with the chickens and do stuff.  John was a former instructor in the Navy and would soon find himself teaching engineering at a community college, so it seemed a natural fit to have a place to teach people the things John and Katie had come to love.  

Curious, but not serious, they searched for an old farmstead on the market to see if they could try and make their dream more real.  What they found were large price tags for even for the most modest of homesteads.  While honeymooning in Isabella Minnesota, they shared their idea with the owner of the cabin they were renting.  He just so happened to have an established Bed & Breakfast for sale!  And they thought the price for an old farmstead was big… oof!  Dismayed, but more determined, they brainstormed as they drove home from the North Shore.  A new idea started to form.  If they could not buy what they wanted, why not build it?


By 2017, they were the proud owners of 40 acres of woodland nestled just inside Superior National Forest, twenty minutes out of Two Harbors.  For three years they poured their hearts and their time into the project which they titled Rustic Pines.  They would build a camping resort where people could come, relax, play, and learn.  Rustic Pines eventually would not be, at least in the vision Katie and John held.  Due to an error in due diligence, and an unfortunate change of ownership on adjacent land, they had to put their dreams on hold once again.

During their time building Rustic Pines, they were motivated by another unfortunate experience.  The company John had worked for closed and he had to find a new job.  It was hard on John because he loved what he did, and the people he worked with.  They were determined not to let little setbacks, or naysayers, scuttle their dreams.  John taught at the college for a year and then was recruited to work as an engineer in a town an hour away.  

For a year and a half, John made the commute every day. One day Katie suggested they look for a place closer to his work, and that is when they found what would become The Sunrise Workshop.

 One Saturday morning, Katie and John were sitting on the couch in the shop, enjoying their coffee and scrolling through a social media feed on their phones.  That is when John spotted an article in the Onion, a satirical website.  The title on the article read “New Sip-And-Weld Studio Provides Opportunity To Drink Wine, Create Own Masterpiece With Blowtorch”.  The article also sported a woman in a welding helmet hoisting a glass of red wine and a huge smile.  John chuckled a bit and showed it to Katie saying “Why not?  I imagine there are a ton of women out there that would love to get the chance to craft something out of metal!”  John’s eyes lifted and scanned the relatively empty expanse of the shop.  As his eyes moved about the room, Katie said “Don’t say it… don’t even speak the words…”  but it was too late. It was true, they were living in the very type of place they needed to fulfill their dream, and they honestly didn’t realize it until that moment.

Since then, Katie and John have been preparing, building, planting, renovating, and learning for the opening of The Sunrise Workshop.  They hope you find your experience at The Sunrise Workshop an enjoyable one.  They hope you learn something new.  They hope you find relaxation here.  But most of all they hope you handcraft a memory that will last a lifetime.