Alumni Showcase: Brooke Happe ('07)
Brooke (Niles) Happe chose Morningside for her undergrad because it offered many different aspects of a college she was looking for. Amongst these included proximity to home, a great Biology program, and the chance to play soccer at a collegiate level.
“My parents both went to Morningside, so I was familiar with the school and family is extremely important to me,” Happe said.
After graduating with a degree in Biology in 2007, Happe went on to receive her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Des Moines University. She worked as a therapist and rehab director in Ankeny, Iowa, until 2015, when she decided to take a break from the medical profession and stay at home and raise her three children.
As Happe made this transition, she was looking for a hat that would keep her head warm as she ran errands and dropped off at preschool but couldn’t find one. After consideration of getting exactly what she wanted, she decided to make one herself, which proved to have multiple benefits.
“I wanted to keep my hands strong as I had full intention of returning to practicing when the kids were older,” Happe said. “With my passion for life-long learning, I decided to teach myself to crochet.”
Her hat design soon became a hot commodity, as fellow mothers were taking a special liking to the product and inquiring about buying one from Happe. From there, she decided to start selling them to local markets and recruited others through her church knitting group to crochet.
“I started b.e.happe Designs, a handmade hat brand that donates a portion of the proceeds to children’s hospitals. It has grown since selling in 2016 and I now have a team of females from across the US to help me!” Happe said.
On top of her small business taking off, Happe and her husband decided to take a leap of faith and sell the home of their dreams and everything they owned in 2019. They transitioned their children to homeschool and moved into a RV so they could travel the country.
“[My husband has] always travelled for work, and when he was not traveling he could work from wherever, which is one of the reasons why we were able to move,” Happe said.
The Happe family makes plans to stay in each location for about two weeks, giving them time to explore the different areas. Sometimes they choose to stay longer, considering the conditions. For example, this winter they are staying in Florida for three months while their children play on sports teams there.
“White Sand National Park in Alamogordo, New Mexico, is a family favorite. We have been to 25 states and also love Arizona, Utah, Montana, and Tennessee,” Happe said.
As her business continues to grow, limited storage space has begun to present a problem. Nonetheless, the positives of this non-restrictive lifestyle has far surpassed the challenges, according to Happe.
“Seeing the growth in our children has been phenomenal,” Happe said. “Their understanding of the world has expanded as they see how other people live in different communities.”
Throughout their whole journey, Happe credits her parents and family as their biggest support system as they have been able to spend more quality time travelling to where they live and experiencing more of life along with them.
For students interested in travelling, Happe offers advice to remember their reason for wanting to.
“Nothing ever goes as planned, but if you remember your why, any hiccup that may come up is not a big deal. Life is too short to dream about something, just do it!” Happe said.
And for students interested in starting a business, she also has a similar message to just go for it and live life without regrets.
“If you fail, learn from your experience and use those experiences for the next season of life,” Happe said.
Happe’s business continues to grow through social media and applications via her website, https://behappedesigns.com. To support her small business and follow along with her journey, go to their instagram page @behappedesigns.