Turning a Passion into a Business

by Kelly · 3 comments

in Guest Posts

This interview is with Katie from Making This Home. She’s been featured before on This is What Frugal Looks Like, but she recently launched a new shop, turning what was just a passion, into a new business. I like what she does, so I asked her to share!

Tell us about how you got to be where you are now:

I’m an American; my husband is German. We split our time between a 480 square foot apartment in Berlin, Germany and a home made out of recycled tires in the Rocky Mountains. We have an enormous passion for life and just getting out and doing as much as we can. Last summer, I earned a pilot’s license.

My journals document our adventure. It took me years to figure out how to write interesting journals.

I started journaling in second grade. I could write and write and write. And today reading those journals is about as interesting as cleaning the shower. I fall asleep, and these journal entries are my own!

My problem was a common one: I had no idea how to write about who I was.

All I could write about was what I did every day – swimming lessons, Girl Scouts, speech and debate…

Today I use all sorts of fun writing prompts, lists, and papers to really keep the creativity going. I study literature, poetry, politics, art, history, nature, foreign language – all sorts of expressive art forms that I incorporate into my books. I think we’re always learning. And journaling is important because we’re always learning about ourselves.

You write a blog, take lots of pictures and journal- what are the most important elements of telling a story for you?

You have to be true to yourself and explore the things that matter to you – not what your parents think or your friends think or anyone else. That can be a really difficult thing. But journaling really lets you be yourself. No one else is reading that space. It’s all you.

Sometimes I imagine blogging and photography that way, too. But they’re not completely expressing the story of “you”. You’re writing for a specific audience, seeing what they comment, and keeping many types of personal items off the internet. I think that’s totally fine. Blogging is well worth it! I guess for me, the real “you” story comes out in journaling, so I have to do that, too.

Why did you decide to turn your hobby into a business? Does having done so change anything for you?

My husband and I were visiting my hometown in the United States to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. NPR’s StoryCorp was in town, inviting folks to share their stories. My dad and I thought it could be a really beautiful opportunity for my grandma to share some of her stories.

I created a list of prompts and questions for my grandma – much like the tricks I use in journaling. My grandma and I practiced a little over a bowl of ice cream, then stepped into the recording bus.

The only problem was my grandma couldn’t remember it all.

Later she tried writing her story about college and meeting my grandfather. You can imagine how much she struggled. Too much time had gone by.

My dad turned to me and said, “Katie, I need you to write about what life is like for you today.”

He was fascinated by his parents’ story, something he’d never truly get to understand. That’s when I really started thinking about the stories we all have to share with others or document for ourselves.

Turning my hobby into a business has been one of the greatest things. I know a lot of people want to journal. Many struggle with blank pages and slip into the this-is-what-I-did-today type writing. Knowing my journal products are helping people achieve their journal goals has changed everything for the better for me. No question!

Where do you get your inspiration and resources?

I’m incredibly lucky to have experienced life in Europe and the United States. It’s opened my mind to so many values and ideas about life, so I can create prompts that can feel specific and personal to one person as much as a completely different person.

Living on two continents has also given me the great opportunity to select beautiful journal materials. My favorites are Italian patterned papers, American library cards, and 100% recycled German paper. The texture really inspires so much in a writer!

I am also inspired by my world. I am not just journaling for me. I’m documenting my husband’s story. I’m recording Berlin’s journey and the changes in America’s West.

What are some of the issues related to turning a hobby into a business?

The lines between what you’re doing for pleasure and what you’re doing for work get blurred. That gets tricky. Some people lose their passion for the hobby. I haven’t experienced that yet; I try to keep other hobbies where I never have to think, “Okay, how can I incorporate this into my business.”


1 Jenna May 21, 2010

I'm not going to lie, I got totally side track while reading this article about "home made out of recycled tires in the Rocky Mountains" would look like. Can you share more information on this? And where the name "gadanke" came from (I'm assuming it's German for something)?

2 Katie @ Making This May 22, 2010

Thanks for sharing this interview, Kelly. I appreciate it!

Jenna, here's a tour of the house made of tires:

Here's an explanation of the word "gadanke":

Hope those help!

.-= Katie @ Making This Home´s last blog ..The Decluttering Project : In the Pantry =-.

3 Jenna May 24, 2010

Thanks for sharing Katie. I wonder if Earthship homes work other places in the US. Like places where there isn’t a ton of sun and tends to be a little more rainy…like the Pacific Northwest?

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