Chris Van Nostrand
of remodeling her own home served as the catalyst for Margaret
Johnsson's newest venture, Magnolia Restorations. As an
"end-user," the 1991 Kellogg School graduate became aware
that no single firm offered the broad array of services required
when undertaking a major renovation. The company she founded
in 2003 outside of Chicago has come to fill that void. In
the process of restoring historic homes while making them
amenable to modern living, Magnolia offers everything from
bid assessment and budgeting to contractor selection and management
with the purpose of acting as an advocate for the homeowner.
represents the convergence of Johnsson's long-term career
goals, business acumen and personal philosophy of dynamic
change. "I always knew I wanted to go into real estate," says
Johnsson, who delayed entering the industry until she could
raise enough capital to make it on her own terms.
funds became available after Johnsson sold her finance and
consulting firm, the Johnsson Group, which she started in
1991 upon graduating from Kellogg and turned into one of INC
500's "Fastest Growing Companies" in 1999.
career transition exemplifies Johnsson's belief in pursuing
a life of professional growth and change, rather than just
riding the peaks and valleys of a single industry. One of
the key lessons that guides her came by way of her academic
experience at Kellogg. Says Johnsson: "In entrepreneurial
studies, there's always this focus on the endgame. So many
of the entrepreneurs I know don't have an exit strategy and
miss crucial opportunities."
manages Magnolia through a growth phase, she appreciates the
value of a Kellogg education when facing the realities behind
all new companies. "My degree is in marketing and strategy,"
Johnsson says, "And when starting a company, strategy is all