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Off the Beaten Path

The first thing to know about Moonlight Laserworks, LLC, is that it’s off the beaten path.

Off the Beaten Path

A one-woman shop in a town of 23 people is finding ways to grow the business.

By Caroline Heller

(Originally printed in the January/February 2023 issue of Insights.)

The first thing to know about Moonlight Laserworks, LLC, is that it’s off the beaten path.

“When I got to thinking about what I would talk about for this article—what makes my business completely unique—what came to mind first is how remote and how different our location is,” says Sarah Fischer, owner and founder of Moonlight Laserworks.

Her production and storage site is located on her property, which is a few miles outside of a town of 23. Yes, you read that correctly—23 people. “According to the 2020 census, 23 is the total,” Sarah says. “The census before that said 80. And even then, I remember looking at that and thinking that it was way too high.”

According to a February 2018 article in The Washington Post, Glasgow, Montana, was designated as the official “Middle of Nowhere.” The second-most isolated city in the 48 contiguous states was Scobey, Montana. Moonlight Laserworks is about 80 miles from Glasgow and 25 miles from Scobey. Needless to say, it’s a bit out there.

“We’re 2.5 hours from the closest Walmart, which is in another state,” Sarah says. “To have a storefront didn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

But these physical limitations haven’t prevented Sarah’s shop from blossoming. In just a couple of years, she’s greatly expanded her equipment and the store’s product capabilities. “Our local town is fantastic, and at some point, I might consider a storefront.”

During these early years of Sarah’s business, though, her focus is on other priorities, namely, capitalizing on what the surrounding area does offer—strong community support—rather than what it doesn’t.

Making the Change

Sarah is not originally from the remote Montana frontier. She grew up in western Canada and worked in Alberta for a while. “My husband’s job, and the fact that he loved the area, is what brought us here,” Sarah says. Before Montana, Sarah was living in Texas and working for an oil and gas company. She spearheaded the technical side of her company’s expansion into Mexico.

After moving to Montana, she spent some time raising two young kids. But after a few years, she started discussing with her husband the idea of starting a business. “Coming from the career I had, I wanted something more,” Sarah says.

But as for the kind of business she wanted to start, she wasn’t sure. “I really needed to be passionate about it. I’m either all in or I’m not in at all. There’s no in between for me.”

It wasn’t until Sarah happened upon an Epilog Laser booth at a large outdoor trade show that she found her calling. “They were featuring their Mayan calendars, as they tend to do at their demo booths, and I thought, ‘This is super interesting and technical. I can see that a lot goes into it,’” Sarah says. She knew there was nothing like it in her small town, and she spent the next year heavily researching laser engraving and how to operate the equipment.

All photos courtesy of Moonlight Laserworks, LLC

“Finally, my husband said to me: ‘You either go ask the bank for a loan or you stop talking about it,’” Sarah says laughing. “I drafted a business plan, and my local small business development center helped me get a commercial loan.”

All the business paperwork was completed in February 2020. In March 2020, she flew to a tradeshow to purchase her first laser. “The show lasted one day, and then the world shut down.”

In the Heart of It

But Sarah was determined. She ended up purchasing her first laser engraver despite the COVID-19 pandemic and demolished a shed on her property to build a production area. “My husband, myself and a local contractor built the shop. My shop literally has my blood, sweat and tears in it,” Sarah says.

In July 2020, they finished the shop and set up the laser engraver. “I had to hit the ground running. I had a county fair that was still going on despite the pandemic. I thought, ‘I have to get out there so people know what I’m doing,’” Sarah says. She had a few days to make some products for her show table.

“The response was overwhelming,” Sarah says. In her first six months, she exceeded a revenue goal she had set for her business in year two or three. “I probably didn’t sleep like 90% of December,” Sarah says. “But that’s how it goes for most of us in the industry during that time, right?”

Fischer's shop has boomed-despite being in a town of 23.

To this day, Sarah is still pulling long hours since Moonlight Laserworks only has one employee: Sarah. Recently, however, she has been able to outsource some work to two students, one of whom is part of a work-study program.

Small-town Support

Whatever Sarah’s nearest town lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in support. “Most of my business is local,” says Sarah. “I have the best community ever. They are so supportive.” To provide for her local customers, who were rapidly wanting more products in 2020, Sarah was able to purchase more equipment in 2021, including a heat press and fiber laser. “I really wanted to get into making leather hat patches,” Sarah says.

By June 2021, Sarah’s business was so successful that she was already outgrowing her production space. She had to purchase a 40-foot shipping container to store inventory. In 2022, she purchased a UV printer and several industrial sewing machines.

Moonlight Laserworks now offers a little bit of everything. “I feel that’s more of a necessary service for the community since we don’t have a lot of gift shops or retail stores. Our other options are driving three hours to a larger store or ordering off Amazon, so I’m glad I can provide more options for my community,” Sarah says.


Fischer launched her business just before the pandemic.

Most of the products that Moonlight sells are promotional materials. “My real focus is on helping businesses [level up] their brand and creating products that their customers will use daily, like stainless steel drinkware or cutting boards,” Sarah says. “What I love about what I do is the fact that I’m helping other small businesses grow. I’m part of helping another person’s dream come true, which was the case for me only a few years ago.”

Moonlight Laserworks might be a smaller, younger business, but giving back to the community is still important to Sarah. “There was a charity event for a local boy who had been diagnosed with leukemia,” Sarah says. “I was able to donate an item that raised several hundred dollars for medical expenses. To see something that I made directly affect a local family meant a lot.”

Sarah has big plans for Moonlight Laserworks, including getting a bigger shop and employing more people. “I grew up always wanting to help people and to make a difference,” Sarah says. “What I’m starting to see and what I’m really excited about is how I can make a difference in my community through my business as I hopefully grow beyond my community. So that I can not only bring joy through my products, but I can give back monetarily or donate more products for charity events.”

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