POEM: Minot's hidden gem — People of Earth Matter Studio making its mark in Minot’s creative community
Ashton Gerard/MDN Large sheets of metal decorate the basement of Minot’s POEM Studio. The sheets were designed at POEM and then cut and engraved with their equipment.

Ashton Gerard/MDN Large sheets of metal decorate the basement of Minot’s POEM Studio. The sheets were designed at POEM and then cut and engraved with their equipment.

ASHTON GERARD Staff Writer, Minot Daily News agerard@minotdailynews.com

Your imagination is your limit. If you can think it, you can do it. These are just a few of the sentiments echoed at People of Earth Matter Studio in Minot, which has been referred to as one of the town’s hidden gems. 

“Our equipment is really limited to your imagination,” founder Clarence O’Berry said.

POEM, owned by the Three Affiliated Tribes, took years of planning and developing to become what it is today in Minot. 

What is POEM Studio?

The People of Earth Matter Studio, located at 36 Third Street Northeast in downtown Minot, specializes in engraving technologies and 3D captures. Walking in the door, a visitor will see tons of art ranging from engraved wood and steel to little figurines and models showcased in a studio-like setting. 

The studio is constantly investing in new equipment and stretching the boundaries of what that equipment can do. Heading into the 3D capture space, O’Berry acquired a hand scanner to go around an object to capture it. Then he invested in a computer that can capture small objects in one go. Now, in the center of their studio, is a 3D capture booth that can capture large objects in less than a second. 

Currently, the capture booth is set up in the center of the studio as a sign of the studio’s capabilities and also as a piece of art itself. 

“If you use a camera (or hand scanner) it takes time, but with the (capture booth), within a fourth of a second we’ve caught and we’ve got your image,” O’Berry said. “From there we can send it to print.”

Currently, POEM sends off any 3D captures to an outside resource that will print and paint the scanned image. The crew has a few 3D printers, but they don’t paint because they have many other areas they focus on in the studio. 

Aside from their newest venture, the POEM Studio focuses on engraving and can engrave almost any and every surface and material. The studio has two CO2 laser engravers, a T-shirt printing machine, a vacuum form machine, a CNC woodcutting machine with a lathe and they also have sandblasting capabilities. 

The studio also does consignment work for artists. 

O’Berry’s brother, Patrick, manages the studio space in Minot and their employees, James Adams and Matt White Bear. O’Berry is in the shop when he can be because making designs and seeing them come to life is one of his passions. 

The road to POEM in Minot

As president and CEO of Mandaree Enterprises, O’Berry has found himself at many trade shows trying to make his business stand out since 1993. 

In an effort to standout, O’Berry thought instead of passing out flash drives and little trinkets like every other small business, he could bring something from the Three Affiliated Tribes and their heritage. 

“I came back (to Mandaree) and went to one of the members that made dream catchers,”he said. “I said ‘I want a thousand.’ “

O’Berry found himself going to different artisans whose crafts have been passed down for generations trying to acquire drums, flutes, blankets and dream catchers but couldn’t build up the inventory from the members. 

“The reason I couldn’t get them was because this was something that was handed down to them from their parents or their grandparents and it was cultural, it had significance and it was something they enjoyed doing,” O’Berry said. “It wasn’t a business thing for them. It wasn’t something that paid the bills.”

Still on a mission to set Mandaree Enterprises apart, O’Berry began to think of what they could do internally. He then invested in a small engraver and started engraving at home. 

“I started bringing stuff I did to work and everyone loved it,” O’Berry said. “I thought ‘Well, will everyone like it?’ I took some things to a tribal gift shop and they bought everything.”

Next thing O’Berry knew, he was being called up for more engraved products for the gift shop to sell. Three years in the making, O’Berry finally came up with People of Earth Matter to set it up as a brand that people could recognize and resonate with. 

“This was before Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter or Red Lives Matter, so we own that trademark here in America and (it) has been filed in five other strategic countries,”O’Berry said. “If you think about People of Earth Matter and the initiatives that could fall under it, it’s almost limitless.”

O’Berry decided the studio would specialize in custom content and orders from the area. The shop is set up like a gallery to encourage people to think outside of the box and push boundaries of what they think they can achieve.

The road to POEM was a long and winding one, but the studio space has been established in Minot for over three years now. Their open house was hosted in September 2016. 

“I never really expected to make this a profitable business,” O’Berry said. “But a lot of people come in here and they’re just amazed… They see what our capabilities are and they say we are the best kept secret in Minot on what we could potentially do.”

Expansion and the future

Recently, in October 2018, POEM expanded to amazon.com to sell some designs for the holidays. They chose six designs to sell and throughout the holiday season, those designs kept the O’Berrys and the crew very busy. 

“We’ll be adding more designs on the Amazon platform,” O’Berry said. 

He also has visions of setting up an online library of designs so anyone around the world with a laser engraver could be a customer of POEM Studio. 

Locally, O’Berry is thinking about opening up a membership program where people can pay a monthly fee to come in and use some of POEM’s equipment. 

For now, the POEM studio in Minot takes custom orders in the studio. Whether you have a design you want or just an idea, they will work with you to create the work of your dreams. 

For more information about POEM, visit their website facebook page or give them a call at 509-8466.

Scott Larkin