Mary Ann Kristiansen was born and raised in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. She moved to New York City in 1985 and to a farm in New Hampshire in 1991. There she began making soap, building gardens and raising sheep and chickens. Through her soap making, gardening, and farming contacts, she realized there was a shortage of markets for locally-made products, while at the same time there was a shortage of business skills on the part of local producers to enter and succeed in those markets.
She founded Hannah Grimes Marketplace in 1991 as a “retail classroom” providing both a market for locally made and grown products as well as business support to those makers and growers. These efforts expanded in 2006 with the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship – a thriving entrepreneurial hub with workshops, programs, and networking that helps businesses of all sizes, stages and sectors start and grow.