A few months ago, I had the pleasure of connecting with the great people behind Tiny Heirloom, who make the highest quality and most custom Tiny Homes that I have ever seen. You may even remember a couple of Instagram posts that we created together! We quickly realized that we were very likeminded in the ways that we approached our respective businesses, how they are operated, and the passion behind them. Ever since then, we have spent a great deal of time bouncing ideas off of one another on how we could creatively collaborate further. In fact, looking back at our latest e-mail chain… There are 74 messages going back and fourth between their social media manager, Jessie Lewis and myself.
When we began to feature some of the great, local businesses here in the Pacific Northwest, we knew that we needed to team up! My dog Evergreen and I loaded up our car at about 5:00 AM in order to get down to their beautiful property outside of Portland by 8:00 AM. We really wanted to meet them in person, hear their wonderful story, and share it with the rest of the community.
One of my wife’s biggest dreams is to own a small Christmas tree farm. Just big enough to be able to have both of our families come over every year for a big Christmas party, chop down a few trees together, and create a fun, family tradition. We are always drawn to larger properties and would love to have some acreage, gardens, and be near some water. Having both been born and raised in the Willamette Valley, I believe it reminds us of our roots. Pulling into Tiny Heirloom’s property for the first time seemed to bring all of those elements together, and more. It creates an inspiring atmosphere for the 20+ employees and the incredible amount of work that they are taking on at the same time.
Jessie and I walked throughout the large property and talked about the great deal of creative freedom that comes along with her position. She runs all aspects of their social media and has particularly found success with Instagram (which is how we connected too!). Tiny Homes were planted throughout the property like seeds and I had the opportunity to see how they creatively utilize each nook and cranny of the different homes. They truly customize each home and do not have “standard” models or styles. Each one comes with a unique vision and top quality craftsmanship. Jessie coined the phrase “if you can dream it, we can build it,” while we were talking and it really stuck with me. It seemed to describe their style and approach to a tee. Gorgeous loft spaces, hidden storage, accordion doors, custom decks, claw-foot bathtubs, even fully attached solar energy systems... Each custom detail makes the dream of tiny living possible for anyone in only a matter of weeks.
After exploring multiple Tiny Homes and their property, we wandered into their production area, met more of their team, and discussed more aspects of their growing business and brand. A large part of what they are doing right now is their TV show on HGTV, Tiny Luxury. As someone who admittedly does not have cable TV, I found out you can stream it through Amazon! The TV show documents each step of the process from conception to completion and even brings the home buyers out to their gorgeous property for a big reveal. I actually have an episode streaming right now as I write this… but more on the show soon!
We talked about how hard it is to keep things balanced, in and out of the workplace, with how much they have going on at the same time. They keep communication with employees and buyers as streamlined as possible. Jessie has personally found success in scheduling social media posts through Hootsuite across multiple platforms. Naturally, some content has to be posted live, but it can help a lot to plan out your weeks and content in more depth, in advance.
We discussed what being based in the Pacific Northwest means to them as a company and Lindsay, their digital designer, added that she “Believes it goes hand in hand with the lifestyle and freedom of the region.” They believe that creating a high quality product, by hand, goes a long way. Having the opportunity to simply escape the city and build these homes amongst beautiful nature also adds to the overall experience and inspiration; they start to simply become a part of their surroundings.
I then had the opportunity to sit down with the three owners and founders of Tiny Heirloom, brothers Zach Francis and Jason Francis, and brother-in-law Tyson Spiess. I was eager to learn about how this all began, where it started, and how it has evolved. Jason discussed the first Tiny Home that they ever built, which was out of their garage in Portland about two years ago, and how it all sparked from an idea from their mother-in-law. He added, “We put a luxury twist on it. At the time no on was doing a really high quality Tiny Home. We put it on social media and it spread like wildfire.”
We discussed the level of customization and quality that they put into their products and how it differentiates them from any other Tiny Home builders. Jason added, “Each project starts with a blank page and they can literally customize just about anything. We add top of the line construction materials and finishes.” After seeing quite a few of the Tiny Homes myself earlier, I could absolutely see what he was referring to.
We discussed the lifestyle that comes along with living in a Tiny Home and any advice that they may have for someone who is considering purchasing one. They suggested staying in a couple and personally testing them out. You can frequently find them for rent on AirBnB. Sometimes, people can be attracted to the lifestyle but not fully understand the commitment and sacrifice that it takes, so make sure you do your homework!
So more on that TV show! We talked a lot about their partnership with HGTV to create their show, Tiny Luxury and the logistics behind it. In fact, while I was interviewing them, they were getting fitted for microphones and were heading straight into filming after sitting down with me. They are currently filming 13 episodes that will start airing on Monday, July 25th at 9PM (on HGTV). Combined with 5 episodes from their previous season, there will be 18 total. Each episode features a different completed, customized, and staged Tiny Home. The turnaround time from beginning to end on an episode is oftentimes just two or three weeks and each one is a race to the finish line. They are hoping to sign on for a more long-term partnership, but for now, have to focus on making each episode and home better than the next.
I asked what their favorite part of the entire process was for them and loved the answers. Jason talked about seeing the finished product and having their clients fly in for the big reveal. Seeing their reactions, joy, and excitement for their new homes has been incredibly rewarding. They also really enjoy having the ability to be inventive and creative with their designs. Zach added that he “really enjoyed how every single day was a different challenge. Part of the challenge is brought on by us and part of the challenge is the nature of what it is.”
My favorite part of the entire conversation was when I asked them what it meant to work alongside family, because all three of them lit up. Their wives have collectively collaborated on the interior design of past units and now each couple takes on a specific design together. “It makes it more fun,” Tyson added. We talked about how partnering with your significant other on projects like these can be so rewarding, because oftentimes, you think and see things in completely different ways. When my wife and I work on photography campaigns together we will often use her images instead of mine in the end, because she sees different angles and shots than I do. “That’s the way it is supposed to be,” Tyson said.
After that, they really wanted to know more about myself, my wife, how we had met, and learn more about our story as well. With the many things going on around them, it meant a lot to know that they were genuinely interested in me as a person more than anything else. It was clear to see that what motivates them most is sharing the experience with the one’s that they love – and that is an incredibly powerful thing.
After an early wake up, a long drive, and awesome morning with Tiny Heirloom, Evergreen and I packed up the car and headed back out. Meeting and learning more about who they are, what they are doing, and how they are doing it was a really wonderful experience. Deeply rooted in the Pacific Northwest, they took a small idea and dream… and have turned it something so much bigger. They are taking on each and every step with family by their side and at the end of the day, are helping turn other people’s dreams into reality as well. From the quality of the people to the quality of the product, Tiny Heirloom is doing it right.
For more information about Tiny Heirloom, please visit their website and links below. Be sure to follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook too!
PNWonderland / Tommy Blades
@pnwonderland / @mrtommyblades