Dec 6, 2023

It's the little things

Kayla (Scholten, ‘16) Huizing is the co-founder of SoDak Stays, a collection of 25 of South Dakota’s finest short-term rentals ranging in size from studio apartments to homes that sleep more than 12 people.

Kayla (Scholten, ‘16) Huizing is the co-founder of SoDak Stays, a collection of 25 of South Dakota’s finest short-term rentals ranging in size from studio apartments to homes that sleep more than 12 people.

Most are in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which is anticipated to be one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

Through SoDak Stays, Huizing and her husband, Albert (’17), manage other people’s properties by taking “everything off the owners’ hands: marketing, supplies, turnovers, guest communications, and more.” Huizing oversees the guest and owner experience, while Albert manages the operations and maintenance duties. They both focus on giving guests a unique, hospitable experience.

Huizing has always enjoyed working with people. As a Dordt student, she chose to major in business: human resources. She became involved in the Business Club, starting off as a worker and making her way up to president.

“Through the Business Club, I was able to bring people together to learn and to network,” she says. “That experience set me up for my first job after graduation, which was working for the greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce as the Young Professionals Network (YPN) manager. Many of the tasks I did as president of the Business Club translated over to what I did for YPN.”

YPN has more than 1,000 members, all professionals ages 21-39. Huizing helped with organizing networking events to help foster relationships and build community.

“I loved getting to meet people,” she says. “Going to a networking event can feel intimidating. I enjoyed trying to put people at ease and seeing the sigh of relief on people’s faces when I helped them feel more comfortable, confident, and welcomed at the events.”

It was while she was working at YPN that she first dipped her toes in short-term rental property management. When she and Albert bought a house with a huge basement, she thought, “Why not try renting out the basement on Airbnb?”

And to her surprise, it was an instant success.

“We had guests every night of the week. It was so awesome,” she recalls.

When she became pregnant with her son, they stopped. But she couldn’t forget how much she enjoyed the short-term rental experience. When her parents purchased an apartment and asked Huizing if she would be interested in running it, she said yes. Another friend also approached Huizing about managing a property.

“A light bulb went off in my head: there could be larger interest in this management service,” she says. “So, I launched our business.”

Almost two years later, Huizing works full-time managing 25 properties, which came to her entirely through word of mouth. She wants to keep SoDak Stays a boutique-style family business, where she and her team can give attention to detail for both the owners and the guests.

The Huizings own their own rental property, The Ziggy. It’s a mid-century modern home with a bright décor and a funky 1970s vibe. “When people are traveling, they want to experience something new and exciting,” she says. “I made sure every room had something quirky and unique to look at. It was fun to flex my creative muscles.”

Huizing loves being an entrepreneur: having control of her own schedule, spending time with her young family, and making her own decisions. It can be tough to be on call at all hours of the day, but she is learning how to make time to rest.

Huizing’s Dordt education ingrained in her the idea that Christ is found in all things. It’s important to her that SoDak Stays “isn’t separate from our everyday life and our walk with Christ,” she says. “I have strong relationships with our 12 cleaners and inspectors, because they’re wonderful people doing hard work in our houses. How we treat them matters,” she says. “I also want to show the love of Christ with our guests so that they know how important they are to us – so they feel welcomed, loved, and appreciated.”

She especially loves being part of guests’ lifelong memories. And she wants to be a caring presence during the more difficult moments of life, such as funerals or final family celebrations.

“We hosted a guest in July who had a family member with terminal cancer,” she says. “They celebrated Christmas in July so they could have a final Christmas together as a family. As a surprise, we put up a Christmas tree and decked the house in Christmas decorations.”

Huizing wants to show the love of Christ through the little things, whether it’s a Christmas tree in July or a cleverly placed lamp in a nicely decorated room. And for every guest, she leaves a handwritten card.

“It’s important for Christians to understand that we can lead in whatever role we’re in,” she says.

Sarah Moss ('10)

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers