• Meet Carly Van Veldhuizen, M+E's Ultimate Right-Hand Woman

    FROM THE Spring 2019 ISSUE

    Carly Van Veldhuizen, the mastermind behind Girl Friday’s mesmerizing creative custom installations, talks inspiration, materials and the value of a solid team.

For Carly Van Veldhuizen, the path to creating custom site-specific art installations for a living wasn’t linear.

“I’ve got three degrees, none of which have anything to do with that I do now,” she says.

Van Veldhuizen worked first as a wedding planner and then a photo stylist before realizing that design is where her heart is. Her company, Girl Friday, is now eight years old and has produced some of the most impressive event and retail installations in the state. Past clients include Target, the Mall of America and the Minnesota Vikings.

The name Girl Friday comes from a term coined in the 1940s that means both right-hand man and jack of all trades. Van Veldhuizen chose the name because she feels it embodies the company’s goal, which is to make clients feel like they were really heard and understood when they walk into the room.

“A lot of people ask where I get my inspiration from and if I ever feel ‘dry,’” Van Veldhuizen says. “I tell them that if I feel dry, I know that I wasn’t listening to my client and that I need to go back and ask more questions, listen harder and be present.”

After getting to know her clients and walking through more complex installation sites, Van Veldhuizen designs each custom project. She and her team then coordinate the production process from the ordering of materials to the creation and installation of the piece.

In addition to the client’s vision, budget and limitations of the space itself, Van Veldhuizen considers sustainability when selecting materials for an installation. She’s used pingpong balls, coffee filters, straws, forks and paper clips; her incredibly popular balloon designs are made with air rather than helium.

In the past year, Girl Friday has created nearly 200 installations. Van Veldhuizen says the company has had the opportunity to go national, a venture she’s slowly exploring. She believes that continued success ultimately hinges on building the best team possible.

“We are a family. When it comes down to it, it’s all about the team.”

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 


For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today.