FHS native leads new program with world-wide impact

Contributed photo
Lucky Little Learners has grown from Angie Olson’s need to create her own classroom resources, to a team of 20 master educators with world-wide impact.

By Lori Fischer Thorp


“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” said Angie Mohn Olson.

“Ever since I can remember, that’s the only job I ever wanted to do,” she said. “I knew it would be elementary, specifically the younger ones. I’ve always just been drawn to the K-2 area.” 

As a 2001 Frazee High School senior, Olson “ironically” shadowed her kindergarten teacher, Julie Wirth, and then earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Minnesota State University-Bemidji. Her constant passion for teaching has evolved into a thriving business, Lucky Little Learners (LLL).

Olson recalled the daunting challenge of “walking into an empty classroom with little to nothing” as a first-year kindergarten teacher in Bemidji. “You get the curriculum and some desks.” 

Being fresh out of college and adhering to a tight budget propelled her “to make everything that you can possibly learn how to make.”

She was gifted a subscription to “Mailbox” magazine, and “ripped and cut out all these ideas and put them in a binder.”

Her non-teaching time was often focused on creating more classroom resources. 

“I like hands-on teaching,” she said. “I don’t like board and lecture, that’s so not my style. I want to be on the floor with them, I want things in their hands. I want engaging and interacting things being done to learn the skills.”

By then, she’d met Brandon “Ole” Olson, a 2000 Detroit Lakes High School alum and fellow Bemidji grad. The two became a strong team, spending time in her classroom while football games played on the SmartBoard. 

“He has helped a ton through every phase of my career,” she said of her husband. “He’s very handy. He would build benches and shelves, and cut things out.”

“I started my blog before I started my business,” Olson said. “Pinterest started in 2010, and when I found that teachers were sharing on Pinterest that was like a goldmine to me.”

“It didn’t take long before I started wanting to share my ideas,” she said. “That wasn’t my intent to blow this up…They’d say tell me more about this, and it started to spread out to other states. I just thought that was so cool that a teacher in Nebraska or California was using my ideas.”

By then, the couple’s daughter Molly, now 11, had been born, and the family moved back from Bemidji in 2012. 

“Troy Haugen, who had been my band teacher, hired me to teach second grade. I honestly didn’t anticipate being able to teach alongside the teachers who taught me,” she said.

The Olsons were living with his parents prior to transitioning to their own home, when “I actually made my first product in the basement of my in-law’s house in Detroit Lakes,” Olson said. “I was holding my baby, sitting in an old recliner.”

After a year-and-a-half, “Finally things started to turn around,” Olson said. “It was hard to trust the process, and just believe that this isn’t where you’re going to end, you’re not stuck here,” she said.

Business headquarters were “initially in the clothes closet of our bedroom,” she said. “There was just enough space for a computer desk and a chair. I’d have to shimmy in sideways. I did that a couple years until we could add on to our house and add a workspace,” she said. 

As the demand for LLL grew, so did special needs. 

“Work was all over our home space, which we want to protect the energy of,” Olson said. “It’s very important to separate. When it’s on your kitchen table, it’s hard to walk away from.”

Three years ago, the Olsons started renovating space in the former Norby’s building in Detroit Lakes. 

“It was just in a shambles, with rubble all over,” Olson said. 

Now, the space is a welcoming space for Zoom meetings, recordings, and in-person groups. 

“It was truly a dream,” she said, which has become a reality with original hard-wood floors and brick, as well as sleek modern touches.

“The set-up is basically like a studio,” she said. “I do a lot of video, and as we grow our team, we are hosting retreats here, and we do things for other businesswomen. It’s set up nicely for that.”

Olson loves the location, where she can “come right from yoga in the mornings, go for lunch, or go for a walk. It’s very convenient, where we’re at.”

The Pandemic “was a crazy time,” for the business, Olson said. “COVID helped us. That was a time where teachers needed digital curriculum that school districts weren’t able to provide them, so we worked around the clock with all hands on deck, basically taking everything with print versions and converting to digital.”

“We had a quicker turnaround than the boxed curriculum that school districts provide. That was one way we could show up and serve our community,” she said.

That “community” includes the LuckyLittleLearners.com website, with a projection of  9,000,000 visits this year, and social media followers include 175,000 on Facebook, 117,000 on Instagram, 71,000 on Pinterest and 21,000 on TikTok.  

There are 10,000 people with All Access Membership. “Over the last 11 years, we’ve had over 300,000 teachers buy products,” Olson said.

The initial web design was built by Olson. ”Now that we have a membership for teachers which was more complicated, that had to be built out by developers over time,” she said

Olson says that although the business began as a hobby through which she could share her ideas, its growth is due to the talents of a group of master educators. 

“We have about 20 in our team,” who have masters or doctoral degrees, Olson said. “I’m really proud of the team we have, we have high standards for the people we hire,” she said. “They are so talented, and they come from all areas of the United States.”

LLL’s slogan is “Together we are better,” and the organizational chart depicts Olson at the bottom of an inverted pyramid, supporting the work done by other team members which include her husband.

Brandon Olson, whose educational background is in teaching and coaching, works with FHS Varsity Football and Baseball. “It’s important for him to be plugged in to youth and sports,” she said. 

He balances his coaching schedule with working on LLL’s payroll and other administrative duties. He also writes and records children’s songs for the company.

“I believe that all students learn in different ways,” Angie Olson said. “For some children, music can be a powerful tool when it comes to learning new skills. I have also found that when I’ve incorporated music in the classroom, my students have responded really well…you can literally hear a pin drop when music is used. Kids are like sponges!”

Olson describes LLL’s initial years as “insane—back then, between teaching and LLL it was at least 60 hours a week with the two.” Since the team has been expanded she is in “more of a visionary role” and can shift more energy to travel and family activities.

“In a small town,” Olson said, “my job is to bring those experiences to my daughter.”

The Olsons are confident that this community is a good fit for them. “One of the things I think is important to note, growing up in Frazee, it’s a small town, tight knit,” she said. “I feel like the connection with teachers and coaches is very important.”

“That’s why we chose to put Molly in Frazee,” she said, “even though with us having remote jobs we could work anywhere in the world, we choose to be there.”

The family enjoys outside activities on their Cotton Lake home and in the area, and “we also pretty much go to every sporting event there is.”

“Everything is compartmentalized,” Olson said of her time. “When I am a mom or wife, or when I go over to do the work things, it’s very bucketed. I’m working my butt off, I work hard and play hard,” she said. 

Olson’s outlook is summarized by a plaque in her studio: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”

Though Olson would like to “stay in my bubble” of current LLL achievement, team members are saying “We need to let that shine, Angie.” 

“It’s not about Angie,” she said. “It’s about why we’re doing what we’re doing.” 

The “big and bold” version of that, Olson said, is that while LLL is “already across the world,” she wants to give back, to “someday just come into classrooms in need, show up and bring LLL to them.” 

“I want our curriculum,” Olson said, “in every school across the world.”