An Interview With The Girls of ‘Normal Things’ Podcast

Have you ever had the urge to open a business in Joplin? Or host a huge event? Start a podcast maybe? If so, Emma and Kristen are probably the two girls you should talk to. This month, JULIE interviewed them about what it’s like in the entrepreneurial world of Joplin, their awesome side projects, and more.

Alrighty. First, for those who don’t know, who are you?

Emma: My name is Emma Ball. I am married to a local business owner. I have two kids- Douglas and Isabella. I work for Leggett, accounts payable, I also run the Hip Handmade Market, I co-host the Normal Things podcast, a lot of other little things.

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Kristen: I am Kristen Radaker I own Frosted Cakerie and co-host the Normal Things podcast.

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So your podcast, Normal Things, who is it for?

Emma: Hmmm… I don’t know, I’m going to say mostly for women, but anybody really. I want to say anybody 20-40? People who are kind of… I don’t know… I think a lot of people are very self-conscious (I think we all are) and if somebody else says they like something, you will always hear a “me too!” And we did that a lot when we met each other because we’re very similar and so it’s nice when you have people around you who are like “That’s normal, I do that too!” even if they’re agreeing with something that’s kind of weird.

Okay cool! So regarding the podcast, what have you covered thus far and what are your plans for the future? Do you have guests? Just a little recap and your future plans.

Kristen: Well, the first few episodes were just like, getting to know us and introducing how weird we are and then the things that we want to talk about are like entrepreneurship or confidence or just things that people struggle with in general.

Emma: We did a year-end review, which was a funny one. We had guests on that one. And we do plan on having a lot of guests in the future. We want to cover like, broad topics, like parenthood- we want to talk about people who don’t ever want to be parents, people that already have kids, people that didn’t necessarily want kids, but got kids, people that want kids but can’t have them.

Kristen: We did one on mental health which is so important too.

Emma: Yeah, and mental health has like, a stigma and so many people don’t want to talk about it and I’m very open about my issues soooo… yeah, that should be out next. Today we’re going to record one on confidence so we picked Mitzi (Starkweather)’s brain (a local photographer) and we’ve been focusing on that topic a lot this week. Basically, we pick topics that maybe will benefit people that are insecure about something and we kind of go for it. We just talked about goals in our last one  because everyone’s kind of doing their New Year’s resolutions so we thought we could focus on that.

I want to talk more about business and all of that. Especially being women in Joplin that do all of these huge things and projects and just run shit, like do you guys have positive or negative things to say about your experiences in the entrepreneurial world as women specifically or in general?

Emma: Um, I have nothing but positive experiences, personally. That said, the Hip Handmade Market isn’t an “everyday” thing so it’s a little bit different, but honestly, I think that to us- it’s not really a problem. It’s our job and our goals you know? I don’t think too much about it. I don’t know, I was raised by a single mom and even though she, in the Hispanic culture likes to have a man to “take care of” and to cook for and stuff, she never really instilled that in me. Even though, I think she wants me to be like that. Like, when we go to her house to eat, she’ll say “Aren’t you going to serve Mat?” And I’ll just say, “Uh, no, he can serve himself!” She didn’t instill that in me per se, but I think that since it was just her raising me, I grew thinking “Oh, I can do whatever, I can do whatever I put my mind to, I can handle everything. And if I need help,I’ll call a friend or a professional.” I don’t think I’ve every thought to myself “Oh, because I’m a woman, I can’t do [blank]”, I just never thought of it that way. And then I grew up in California until I was about 15 and I never thought about race……. until I moved to the midwest and it is kind of a thing, but out here, I try not to think about it. I try not to think about me being the only brown person in the room. So I think that’s important, don’t think you can or can’t do something because you’re a woman or a minority, just do what you need because it needs to be done and forget the rest.

Kristen: I would say I have also had overwhelmingly positive experiences in the business world. For the most part, people have treated me like a business-owner first. I must say though, I have had a few experiences in which I had been treated “as a woman” first. For example, when I had to get all of my licensing done for the building, a particular inspector came to inspect the building and Emma’s husband was going to be with me for the inspection, but since he was late, it was just the inspector and I for the beginning. So the gentleman had explained several things to me and I understood perfectly, but once Mat got there, he started explaining the same stuff, but in way more technical terms (which I also understood perfectly), but I noticed how this guy treated Mat completely different because of his gender, I saw this shift from like “oh you need to put thingie over there’ to “you need to put that[ specific item] over there.” He also shifted his entire conversation to Mat even though I WAS the business owner who was getting HER building inspected and Mat was just there because he has opened 2 businesses and was just helping install some things, but all of the sudden even though he knew I was the owner, everything was obviously directed at Mat and not me.

What is some advice you would give to women who want to get into this entrepreneurial world, who want to start a business, things like that?

Emma: Surround yourself with great people. That’s something we talked about in the goals episode. I do feel that you are a reflection of the 5 people who are the closest to you.

Kristen: I was going to say the exact same thing. But mainly for me, dealing with depression and anxiety about everything, there were so many days where I wanted to quit and just stop everything, and I feel that during those times, there were people who told me “You can’t quit, how can I help?” My husband has been so supportive and that helps too.

Emma: Obviously, we’re both married and that source of support is great.

Kristen: But if Luke doesn’t know the answer to something, he’ll tell me, “well, call Meg or call Emma.”

Emma: So even if you’re single, your friends…. are so SO important. I used to feel like I didn’t have any friends, but through all of this, I feel like I have so many.

Okay, so you guys are both married to pretty awesome guys, tell us about your husbands…

Emma: Kristen’s husband is famous.

Kristen: Haha, my husband is Joplin famous! He’s Luke Schaefer of Me Like Bees. He’s heavily involved in the music scene.

Emma: He’s a great songwriter.

Kristen: Oh yes.

Emma: He actually wrote our theme song for the podcast. And he sings it!

Kristen: It’s funny because when he’s working at my bakery, people will come in a say, “Wait, do you work everywhere?” Because he does! He doesn’t have a stable job, he works at the Bruncheonette, he works at Downtown Burger, he works at my bakery, he’s worked at Jb’s, Palace Pizza, he just got a substitute teaching license. SO he kind of fills in everywhere in Joplin because he travels so much with his music. He needs to be that way because music is his priority and it should be so he has to just find work when he can.

Emma, what about Mat, what does he do?

Emma: Um, well he hired Luke for a little bit… *laughs* Okay, so Mathew(Ball), when I married him, he was a farmer and we were married like, 6 years and then he got hurt and had a spinal fusion and after that he gained quite a bit of weight and in order to strengthen his back, he started going to this little gym in Carthage and he became friends with the owner and he got an idea in his brain. And Mat is a lot like me when he gets an idea, he’s just ALL in. So he and the other owner thought they could potentially expand and move to Joplin and…. at this moment, 24 actually has 3 gyms in Joplin! They’re closing one in March because they bought out another gym in town. So, they’re going to have two really nice locations in Joplin, they have one in Webb City, and they have one in Carthage. And I 100% believe that wouldn’t have happened without Mathew’s drive and he does bring in that “farmer’s ethic” and right now, with the opening of the new facility, he’s working 8-8.

One last question- What’s your favorite part about Joplin?

Emma: I love downtown Joplin. I really love that Dowtown Joplin is super supportive for new thigns. It’s kind of hard though because Joplin won’t support something for long, people here love NEW things, but I love that if you want to start something, it’s up to YOU to do it and keep people coming back. I think Kristen does  a good job with that with the bakery because she’s open every Wednesday and every week, they’re a new cookie or a new snack for everyone. Joplin likes the fact that it’s different and new every week.

Kristen: My favorite thing is the people here. I’ve lived in a dozen different places and I’ve never met so many driven people in such a small population. There are so many people here who want to be involved in things or who want to start things or who want to start businesses or events. I would love to see Joplin become kind of a small incubator for small businesses to start up and then grow. One of the issues though is that a lot of people don’t really want to work together, it would be great for people who are starting similar things to come together and harness their energy together to move forward as a community.

Oh yeah! Okay girls, so where can we find everything?

Kristen: The Normal Things podcast is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. And  you can listen on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud. The bakery, Frosted Cakerie is at 124 S. Main at 2nd and Main. We’re open on Wednesdays from 10-6 and we do custom orders at all times. We’re on Instagram at FrostedJoplin and at

Emma: The next Hip Handmade Market is on March 24th and March 25th. It’s getting close! That’s at and on Facebook and Instagram as “Hip Handmade Market”.


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