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Chris Schapdick was working in New York City in advertising technology when he started to think about what would truly make him happy. Suddenly he realized that he already knew the answer: being outdoors.
So, Schapdick decided to build a tiny house on the land he owns in the Catskills region of New York state. He started building the house in 2014. Now, the 145-square-foot, two-bedroom abode is now a refuge for him and his 13-year-old daughter. Schapdick enjoyed the process of building it so much, he decided to build more tiny houses. That's when his business, Tiny Industrial, was born.
"It was really designed for my daughter any myself," Schapdick told TODAY Home. "I grew up in Canada and spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid and I wanted her to have that."
Not only have Schapdick and his daughter grown to love the escape from their Clifton, New Jersey, home, Schapdick enjoyed the experience of building the house so much that he decided to turn it into a business. He'll even deliver the houses if needed!
"Minimalism is growing in popularity — with tiny houses and just downsizing in general," said Schapdick. "I don’t see that going away any time soon."
Schapdick sells the houses through his website for Tiny Industrial, as well as through Etsy (where you can buy a tiny home for $12,000, or one of his other creations like these unique skateboard lamps). Schapdick says Etsy has been a great way to raise awareness for his business. Once people purchase the homes on the site, Schapdick says that if customers have a vehicle that can tow the house, they'll typically come pick it up, but he will also help out by delivering the house if needed.
"I put them up there and the response has been really great," said Schapdick. "I didn’t really think of Etsy as a place to sell tiny houses."
While Schapdick still loves living in his tiny home part time, he also takes the homes that he builds to trade shows, and rents out a few of them on Airbnb on his property in the Catskills. Schapdick says that some people use the homes to travel, and some keep them stationary. No matter how they use them, he's happy to be able to help others experience a minimalist lifestyle.
"I really recoil at the word fad, because this is not a fad," said Schapdick. "It’s kind of a shifting of people’s priorities."
This shift is something that Schapdick experienced firsthand when he decided to leave his own corporate career.
"It was a re-evaluation of my priorities," said Schapdick. "I worked in advertising technology for a long, long time and it was just really starting to wear me down. And maybe that juncture of hitting age 50 made me really ask how much longer I see myself in that career."
As for his daughter? Schapdick feels as though he's definitely been able to communicate the values of spending time in nature and minimalism to her as well.
"She’s 13 at this point — she’s obviously headed into her teenage years and at some point she’s not going to want to hang out with her dad as much anymore," said Schapdick. "She’s really into it — I think that I've accomplished my original idea of wanting to expose her nature."