Small Business Stories: Wayfaren
You know those businesses you've been following so long, you're not sure how you even first found them? I've been eyeing Wayfaren's beautiful keepsake boxes and pushpin maps for years, dreaming of the day I'd use some of their products to chart my travels or hold my kids' keepsakes. So what a joy it has been to actually get to work with them and interact with the sweet people behind the brand!
This couple is filled with integrity and honesty as they embrace their business, their growing family, and their dreams of travel.
But I'll let them give you the full scoop on how Wayfaren was born and where it's headed...
Tell us a bit about YOU!
Hi there! I am Abby Hatteberg and my husband, Luke, and I run our small business, Wayfaren, out of our shop/studio in Dallas, TX. We sell handcrafted + travel-inspired goods and have a passion for living like we travel – slowly, savoring the small moments, seeking out adventure all around us. We have two beautiful little girls (that we were 100% convinced were both going to be boys :)) When we are not working on this business of ours you can find us exploring outside, most likely with a picnic in tow, trying new restaurants, refining our new hobby of bread making, or making the ultimate reading fort with our littles :)
What led you to start your own business?
When Luke and I first met in 2008, one of our initial draws to each other was our interest in travel and other cultures. I had lived and taught in Italy for a year after graduating and Luke had just spent 4 months backpacking through Europe (a small pack and $800 in hand alone!), so adventure has always been at the heart of our relationship. In the summer of 2012, we served in Spain and after returning home we were burdened with all these incredibly beautiful photos just sitting on our computer screen. We were both eager for a creative outlet at the time and Luke anxious to dive into woodworking, so we decided on a whim to list those photos on Etsy (hey, it's only 20 cents to list an item right?!). Well, we didn't end up selling any of those Spanish landscapes, but we did catch the itch for entrepreneurship and the thrilling adventure of starting your own business. Quickly, we saw a gap in the market for a push pin travel map – one that was beautifully designed for the modern traveler and home, not looking like it belonged in a outdated office. From there, we've been on a mission to design and craft the highest quality, travel-inspired goods to help our customers hold onto their greatest memories and dream up that next trip as well. Even though, we weren't able to live abroad when we started the business as we dreamed, in a way we could vicariously live through our customers and these travel-inspiring products (push pin maps, custom keepsake boxes, personalized travel journals), and that has just been the greatest joy.
Has this business been what you expected + hoped? What have been some of the transitions your business has taken?
Absolutely, 100% not! Goodness, since I was 10 I wanted to be a teacher and Luke a pastor, both dreaming of living in Europe one day. Never in a million years did we think we would be running a business together in Dallas, TX, a hobby turned full-time endeavor is definitely not the plan originally envisioned.
Building and sustaining Wayfaren has been possibly one of the hardest challenges we have ever undertaken, yet it has also brought more joy and satisfaction that we ever imagined. Entrepreneurship is HARD WORK – you are the craftsman, the CEO, the accountant, the janitor, the supply manager, the designer – it all falls on you. I do not think we expected the grit required. In the beginning you're running off adrenaline and the thrill of the new adventure, but a few years in, the weariness sets in and you have to really root yourself in your why's.
We have gone through so many transitions and transformations- a name change and complete rebrand, a total overhaul of our product collections, many team member transitions, two moves (one to a larger home, one to our first commercial space), learning how to balance owning a business while simultaneously navigating becoming parents twice over – goodness it's been a journey, but we are still here! And so deeply grateful for that.
What is your biggest frustration with your industry?
Now that we have a business based in woodworking we have really been exposed to how overlooked the trade industry is. In America it's all about which 4-year college are you attending, climbing the allusive success ladder, that high power corporate job... but the trades are at the heart and foundation of our country! It is so frustrating to see those industries and jobs devalued and not seen as "successful" as the 9-5 office job.
What is your greatest source of encouragement + inspiration?
Absolutely, travel, travel, travel! There is something about exploring a city you've never stepped foot it, interacting with a culture completely different than your own, taking in the beauty of God's creation- man it is SO good for your soul. And when our hearts are full, we are at our most inspired.
Even if we can't take some epic trip (which definitely has been more limited now that we have two little ones) new experiences can be the most life-giving surge of encouragement- taking the time to explore a new park over the weekend, trying a restaurant that just opened in your neighborhood, even a quick weekend getaway- it can all be very powerful.
How do you define success in your life and business?
First and foremost, we are "successful" if we are glorifying God in all we do in life and the business, if anything there isn't aligned with Him we can't call it success. Beyond that, for us right now success looks like the gift of running this business together (even though at times it quite literally drives us crazy :), taking exceptional care of our customers and always going above and beyond to make sure they leave saying "wow," spending intentional and rich time with our girls and them grow up watching mom and dad build Wayfaren, being able to have a very small hand in ending the global water crisis by partnering with The Her Initiative and giving back a portion of our profits, and the ability to fully support ourselves and a few team members with this business, that is very humbling.