By Pam Eggemeier
Daily Gazette, Sterling, Ill.
Savanna native Michele Beschen has cultivated a life of creativity based on healthy living. Her passion for empowering others to do the same has brought commercial success beyond her wildest dreams.
From an array of do-it-yourself home projects to organic gardening and exercises in holistic health, Beschen’s lessons in creativity have turned into television shows, magazines, and a DVD series, and have been promoted on several multimedia platforms.
Beschen, 45, grew up in Carroll County, surrounded by people who believed in a back-to-basics lifestyle full of artistic expression.
“I grew up with a creative family — my dad was a commercial fisherman, and my aunt was an artist,” Beschen said. “I was always around creativity, but I truly believe it is innate in everyone.”
Beschen, then Michele Brown, finished high school in Savanna before she attended Highland Community College in Freeport. She then went to Clarke University, a small liberal arts school in Dubuque, Iowa.
“I thought I wanted to be a doctor,” she said, “but then I met my husband, and things took a different course.”
She and Jon have lived just outside West Des Moines, Iowa, for about 20 years. Michele teaches classes from her creative arts studio there, even organic gardening at the home’s ample green space.
When she moved to Des Moines, she worked in television production at a local Fox broadcast affiliate, but after 9 years she was ready for something different.
In 2002, she launched Simply Michele Inc., a multimedia company that used a hands-on approach to meaningful lifestyle changes. She created all types of original how-to projects and content that started in her backyard and ended up on television.
“It all evolved naturally and turned into a TV show, ‘Michele Beschen’s Courage to Create,’ on the local Fox station,” she said. “That show then morphed into a how-to series for Scripps Network.”
The series “B. Original” launched in 2006, and 130 episodes were made for the DIY Network and HGTV. Her newest series, “B. Organic,” shares ideas and projects that celebrate nature, good health, and green living. The show airs on public television stations around the world.
Beschen also provides content for American staples like “Good Morning America” and the “Rachel Ray Show.” She calls the national outlets a fast-paced, whirlwind experience.
“‘The Nate Berkus Show’ contacted me, and it was basically, how about his and her junk drawers, what can you do?” Beschen said. “It was challenging, but I found that six of seven other projects came out of doing that one.”
She is now working on “Remake Life,” which is a compilation project of sorts.
“I’m re-creating stories that are a mix of DIY and personal projects — everything from painting shelves to using tools,” Beschen said.
“I’m not sure where it will end up. We’re looking at several channels and online mediums.”
She and Jon have two daughters, Madeline, 12, and Berkley, 3, who are being taught the benefits of self-expression and doing.
“There is a big health component to this,” Beschen said. “So many studies show how art and creating help with relaxation and warding off stress. I try to get people past the fear element because it’s about the act of creating, not the end result.”
Beschen will present a program in Sterling on Feb. 25, sponsored by the Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Professional Women’s Network.
Networking and lunch will be at 11:45 a.m., and the program will begin at noon, at Bethel Reformed Church, 230 E. 23rd St. The program theme will be “Igniting Your Creativity, Naturally.”
“The presentation will be about how creative expression benefits overall health and well-being,” Beschen said. “I’m going to send them home with lots of ideas that will motivate them to ignore outside influences and follow what’s in their hearts.”
Michele Beschen in Sterling
“Igniting Your Creativity, Naturally”
Wednesday, Feb. 25 at Bethel Reformed Church, 230 E. 23rd St.
Networking and lunch at 11:45 a.m., program at noon
Sponsored by the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce’s Professional Women’s Network. To register, contact the chamber by Feb. 20 at 815-625-2400. Cost is $12 for chamber members, and $15 for nonmembers.