When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Champagne and Make the World Wonder How You Did It


22 December 2020

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Champagne and Make the World Wonder How You Did It


As the end of 2020 nears, it’s easy to look forward to 2021 with no love lost for the year we have just lived through.

The global pandemic alone has had a significant impact on all of us, personally and professionally. It caused monumental shifts in our daily lives from where and how we work and learn to how we shop to ensure we have toilet paper and cleaning supplies. At STAR, we faced those challenges while also witnessing the live events and tradeshow industries postpone, cancel and ultimately shutdown. And yet, here we are at the end of 2020, and we couldn’t be prouder. We appreciate our client partners, our suppliers, our staff and everyone part of the STAR family.

STAR’s diverse business approach allowed our team to continue onward while we navigated the unknowns. Our DNA of innovation, speed and nimbleness has been a hallmark of our operations for 28 years. While our retail and corporate interior business outperformed our expectations, STAR leadership was purposeful in resetting our business plan and identifying new ways to leverage our core competencies and the talent of our teams.

On top of the pandemic, the civil unrest last summer left Minneapolis with a big need. Our team initially partnered with Cub Foods, a market leading grocery chain headquartered in the Twin Cities metro, and other retailers nationally to board up retail locations to prevent damage.

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When two of their locations were forced to close due to severe damage, our team pulled together a temporary retail environment for Cub Foods in 2 ½ weeks to serve a community whose local grocery and pharmacy options had been eliminated. Our team’s knowledge and experience from years in live events made this possible.


While our STAR team was exploring other offerings, our clients were doing the same. For many, tradeshow and live events are cornerstones of their annual marketing programs and they, too, had to get creative to reach their annual sales and revenue targets. As virtual meetings became a regular part of our workday, we partnered with our clients to drive engagement through new online, virtual and unique programming; creating meaningful experiences that outweighed “zoom fatigue.”

The pandemic disrupted our “normal” and as the months have gone on, it’s created a new normal. Work from home options were already on the rise, but COVID-19 accelerated those trends as businesses were forced to adapt quickly to keep their workforce operational. Companies that never considered a WFH option now know it’s possible. Others who already embraced WFH culture are questioning whether a return to the office is even necessary. As we individually struggled to find dedicated space for work, school and fitness in our homes, so did our colleagues, clients and networks.

Building from our experience in building permanent and semi-permanent structures, we sought to create an affordable, contemporary, customizable option for those who just needed a little more space. myBackyardStudio™, sister company to STAR, offers endless lifestyle extensions for homeowners. We specifically focused on myOffice™, myGym™, myClassroom™ and mySanctuary™ as these have been the most disrupted parts of our everyday lives.

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Launching on November 27, a mere 67-days from our initial project kick-off, myBackyardStudio™ has received a positive response from the market. Initial traction to the website has been strong and homeowners are creating their own custom solutions, blending their personal style with their unique needs. We are only in the beginning weeks of myBackyardStudio™ and already we look forward to exciting announcements that are coming soon.

If we had a crystal ball, maybe we’d have known what was coming and what’s coming next. What we do know is that while we look forward to 2021, it will have its challenges. The addition of myBackyardStudio™ to the STAR family is yet another way that we can create custom solutions to help our clients turn their lemons into champagne.

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Founder/CEO Mark Johnson and VP/Sales & Marketing Rich Rizzardi share more on STAR and myBackyardStudio™ 


Find Your Escape, Right in Your Backyard.

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myBackyardStudio™ is a sister company of STAR.  STAR is an experiential agency that creates branded experiences through design, fabrication and installation based in Minneapolis, MN.  STAR has a 28-year history in award-winning programs in large scale tradeshows and live events, retail environments and corporate interiors for Fortune 100 companies.  We created and started myBackyardStudio™ as we assessed the impact of the global pandemic to our core tradeshow and live events business.

Our core competencies of design and manufacturing of semi-permanent and permanent structures makes myBackyardStudio™ a natural extension of our business.  Earlier this summer we built a temporary grocery store, from initial design to fully operational in 2 ½ weeks, for Cub Foods, a market leading grocery chain headquartered here in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.  The pandemic has accelerated existing trends of work-from-home.  We heard continually from clients, peers and suppliers the fatigue of working from home: lack of quality workspace, daily distractions and finding work-life balance.  We further see the disruption in distance learning and access to outside-the-home fitness and wellness options.  Clients and those in our professional networks were beginning to ask for solutions given their previous experience working with STAR.

We made the initial decision to aggressively pursue an offering in early fall and launched November 27.  In a short period of time we designed our product line, solidified our supply chain, understood market pricing, developed the brand, our e-commerce platform and website.

myBackyardStudio™ creates endless lifestyle extensions for homeowners.  We specifically focused on myOffice™, myGym™, myClassroom™ and mySanctuary™ as these have been the most disrupted parts of our normal lives.  The ability to redefine your new normal has been critically important.  Each of these lifestyle collections is fully customizable, allowing a homeowner to self-imagine their own escape.

We launched with 3 specific exterior designs: Rustica, Artisan and Prairie.  Each bring a forward and contemporary design to fit your home environment and provide options for your individual style.  We have several additional designs we will introduce in 2021.

Find us at: mybackyardstudios.com

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