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Small Business Spotlight: Creative Monke

Alerus | FEB 28, 2017

With a Name Like That

Alison Monke lives in the world of branding and marketing, a world in which people tend to outsmart themselves too often in the pursuit of being different. When Alison decided to start her own business after years of doing freelance design work and working for other companies, naming her own business was a first step, and she didn’t overthink it. “With a last name like Monke, pronounced ‘monkey’, you have to use it and embrace it!” she explains with a laugh. 

She had always been inspired by off-the-wall, inventive, and unique designs and campaigns, which stoked her own desire to embrace creativity in ways she hasn’t before. And so Creative Monke was born, and has been growing in Fargo-Moorhead ever since, serving customers around the Midwest. 

Art Becomes Life

Growing up, Alison always loved art. She loved the way a piece could carry meaning to an audience, and how the same piece could mean different things to different people. But when it came to making a living, the unavoidable images of the “starving artist” kept appearing. So Alison decided that one way to use her creativity while surviving economically would be to pursue a career in graphic design. 

After getting her degree at Minnesota State University – Moorhead, she worked for a family business, a large corporation, and a non-profit, helping each employer further their marketing goals and improve their brands. She also freelanced on the side, which required a lot of time. Eventually, with a growing base of freelance clients, she needed more time for design, meetings, and maybe even a little more sleep.

Relying on the network she had built up over the years, the experience she had gained, and the support of her husband, Alison took the leap. She left her full-time job and turned the freelance work into a genuine company of her own. 

Alison and a few examples of her work are shown below.

Not just a designer, Alison is a creative problem solver who also helps companies with marketing strategies, social media strategy, and event marketing. She dives into each customer’s business to figure out what its audience wants and needs, as well as the business’ competitive position, goals, and growth needs.

More than anything, Creative Monke customers get answers from Alison. She is always there when a customer has a question or needs additional materials to be created. Creative Monke is about much more than just pretty and professional designs – it’s about thoughtfulness and developing real solutions that help business grow.

About the Alerus Relationship

Alison says she really wanted a bank that catered to small businesses and where she wouldn’t feel lost in the shuffle. “I wanted an actual relationship,” she explains. “I felt like my previous bank didn’t do much to connect with me and made it difficult to have a small business account.”

Today, that relationship is provided by Alerus bankers Bethany Sortland and Andrew Hanson. They helped Alison and Creative Monke get everything set up and squared away at the beginning, and they continue to keep in touch, even sending tips and other businesses to Creative Monke when those businesses need marketing help. 

Alison mentions customer service as one of the biggest benefits of banking at Alerus. Online banking and the Alerus mobile app also make business banking easier, she adds. Most of all, if Alison ever has a question, “everyone at Alerus goes above and beyond to answer my question or find a solution for my needs.

Getting in Touch With Creative Monke

If your small business could use a creative marketing boost, don’t hesitate to reach out to Alison at Creative Monke. You can visit her online to see more of her work, or call 701.799.9625 to speak with her. Feel free to send her an email at as well. She’s located in Fargo, but works with customers from many different areas.

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