Meeting the Makers guest post by Katie Clemons of Gadanke
Fast forward years and years. Imagine you’re 90 years old, and you don’t remember your story. You don’t remember what inspired you to start a handmade business. You’ve forgotten what made you passionate way back in 2011. And you certainly don’t remember all those fears and bits of joy in everyday life.
What do you do?
My grandma and I were sitting in a recording studio for NPR’s StoryCorp. It was her 90th birthday. She looked at me with sad blue eyes and said, “I don’t remember. I wish I did.”
There was nothing she could do. But I knew there was something that I could do.
My name is Katie; I run an award winning handmade journal shop – www.gadanke.com.
My goal at Gadanke is to help you get down the stories, the hopes, the fears, and the things that make you feel alive – all things my grandma has lost. I also want my journals to be a place where you can tuck away the bits of life; that’s why the bindings open and close. Tuck away letters from your grandma, photographs, and memorabilia. Or use the old fashion library cards, mini envelopes, and pockets in all the books. It’s seriously so fun!
When did you start your shop?
I launched Gadanke in 2009 while living abroad in Berlin, Germany. The name “Gadanke” comes from a German word that means thought, mind, or idea. Now there are thousands of people around the world celebrating their stories with my books. I build them all myself in rural Montana, and it feels like a dream come true.
Tell us about being a green business.
I believe with all my heart that we should be preserving our environment as well as our stories.
Earlier this year, Gadanke received the EcoStar Award from the governor for my green business initiative. All of my journals include 100 percent recycled papers, domestically-produced materials, and products from sustainable forests.
What were some ways you prepared to become an handmade biz owner?
Taking risks is a huge part of starting a handmade business. Living abroad taught me how to take risks because even going to the grocery store involved so many new challenges. It also taught me patience – with myself, with my new environment.
What is a current challenge are you facing, and how do you plan to overcome it?
Hmm, one big project my husband and I are undertaking is the remodel of an old airplane hangar. We want to build a little loft home in the back. We also want to give Gadanke its very own home in an underutilized storage space in the facility. It’s exciting! It’s exhausting. I’m blogging the progress at www.makingthishome.com.
All we can do is work at it one day at a time. We can’t let the big goal overwhelm us.
What are four tips you can to pass along to someone who wants to start her own handmade business?
Be patient with yourself and your business. There are so many little details that constantly come up. Just keep working through them.
Ask for help when you need it.
Make sure it’s something you love and that you love having as a piece of you.
Document the journey in a journal. You can learn so much about yourself, your ideas, and the direction you should take just by getting your ideas out on paper.
Katie helps people capture memories and express their thoughts creatively with her eco-friendly journals. Her award-winning business, Gadanke, offers handmade journals filled with writing prompts and fun embellishments. She also blogs at Making This Home about simple, handmade living from her homes in Berlin, Germany and a hangar in rural Montana.