ZIMMERMAN, Minn. – Mary Knack is not your average cowgirl.
The 17-year-old from Elk River owns two businesses, an Arabian horse—named Flynn, and a Ford F-150 truck. She also works at the Brooklyn Park Subway and finds time for a full load of high school classes.
“It’s hard to find the time for everything these days,” said Knack.
At the age of 13, she created Equine Essentials, providing hand-braided, custom halters, straps, reins and ropes for horse riding, which she now sells around the world.
“In 2016, my overall revenue was $26,000,” said Knack.
Juggling all these responsibilities made a traditional high school experience an obstacle. She weighed her options, and as a freshman, she enrolled in the Minnesota Virtual Academy, a public, online school run in association with the Houston, Minnesota school district.
“It just opened up the world for her to be able to pursue her dreams of the youth entrepreneur business,” said Colene McClard, Knack’s mother.
Created in 2001, MNVR is the largest online K–12 school in Minnesota with about 1,900 students registered in the 2016-2017 year. It gives students the same course work as a traditional school aligned with the Minnesota Academic Standards and students are required to take all of the state’s comprehensive assessments, according to Krin Abraham, Head of School at MNVA.
“I don't really feel like I'm missing out because I’m gaining so much,” said Knack.
Because school, riding, rope-making and sandwiching aren’t quite enough for a 17-year-old to do, Knack also created a photography company called Mary Elizabeth Photography.
She specializes in senior photos and portraits, all of which include horses in some way.