• 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.”

Minnesota offers vibrant autumn color and provides a kaleidoscopic backdrop for your event.

New England often gets the most credit for its spectacular fall color, but many rank Minnesota in the top tier for seasonal beauty, making fall an ideal time for meetings anywhere in the state. From the North Shore of Lake Superior to the Twin Cities and Rochester, there are a variety of venues with ideal seasonal settings that can cater to groups of all sizes. 



Experience Rochester MN appointed Angie Richards to the position of vice president of sales. She previously held the position of area director of sales for Avra Hospitality in Rochester, Minn. 

Richards will lead Experience Rochester MN’s sales team, which is responsible for the booking of meetings, conventions, and other events at Mayo Civic Center as well as group sales for the entire city.


Radisson Blu Mall of America promoted Kate Anastasi to director of sales and marketing. Anastasi has been with the Radisson Blu Mall of America team for eight years and has held many support and leadership roles within the sales team. She had most recently served as the assistant director of sales and marketing. Anastasi won the 2021 Radisson Blu Manager of the Year award.