In 2011, Anna Lardinois, an English teacher at the time, turned 40 and vowed to learn something new every week for the rest of her life. She probably has a couple of Pinterest-filled projects in her basement, but one of her new endeavors was so successful it is now her full-time livelihood.
Lardinois started a "historical ghost walking tour" business called Gothic Milwaukee. She leads tour groups through the dark streets of Downtown and regales them with spooky, historical tales that live somewhere between fact and lore.
Prior to starting the venture, she spent months researching and compiling information, then gave practice tours to friends before officially offering her historical walking tour to the public. The first year, she pre-sold 1,600 tickets. The response was so positive, she later left her teaching gig to pursue her business full time.
This past winter, Lardinois created a self-guided audio tour of Wisconsin Avenue that works via the GPS in walkers’ phones. It is available here for $2.99.
"I take the walker from the public library to the art museum," says Lardinois. "Along the tour, I make note of interesting buildings and provide some historical background on the street. I think it will really meet the needs of visitors who want a tour at their own pace and at a time that works for them. It’s also great for budget-friendly staycation shoppers."
The tour, according to Lardinois, is also ideal for Milwaukee enthusiasts who want additional insight on the buildings they see everyday, people coming into the city who want to slow down and see the city from a new perspective and anyone with spring fever who wants an outdoor adventure.
Before committing to the business full-time, Lardinois completed the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation Start Smart class. She was also one of Milwaukee’s first KIVA Zip loan recipients.
"I love telling stories and helping people find new reasons to fall in love with the city," says Lardinois.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.