Meet the Team.
Nicholas Donlin Builder | Pilot
Jenna Wraye Designer | Co-Pilot
Our First Hello.
We met in February of 2016 at a super bowl party. (Of which I had attended with someone else.) Rocking sweatpants and his glasses, Nicholas managed a solemn wave from his snug and seasoned position on the couch. We never spoke or merely interacted.
Fast Forward: September 11, 2016.
His pick up line was, "I'm gonna be starting a design for a tiny house soon and was wondering if you wanted to help." To which I said, "Of course!" then again, didn't speak to him again. Two months later, not losing hope or lacking confidence, his next attempt at a pick up line consisted of, "Random question, have you ever flown in a small plane? Would you want to go?" I guess you could say, "He had me at hello."
Nicholas received his Bachelors in Construction Engineering from Iowa State University in December of 2014. He earned is private pilots license...well, sometime shortly before he asked me to put my faith in a near stranger and get into a small plane with him.
In the spring of 2016, I graduated with my Bachelors in Interior Design, also from Iowa State University. To my knowledge, our paths never crossed while at Iowa State. If I believed in fairy-tales or "a match made in heaven", you could say that is exactly what we are.
After months of dating and countless conversations with friends and family encouraging us to combine our talents, we took all the things we love: design, construction, and travel, and looked for a way to build a career that incorporated each one of those aspects. Today, so many people work to support their life that they end up working their life away. You get one chance in this world. Who wouldn’t want to jump in a small airplane with their best friend, fly to different destinations, renovate an existing home, or design something custom (tiny or not), and complete the build expeditiously (that means fast...on the fly...get it? :) ). We’re young, we may very well be crazy, but, in the words of Mr. Jon Bon Jovi, "We just want to live while we’re alive.”
Our dinner conversations consist of that of any other 23/25 year old couple trying to establish a career and build a life. We start off with a simple review of our days: issues that went astray in the field, sub-contractors that let us down, and projects that are are behind schedule. Small talk really.
During a trip to Boston with my mom, I was channel surfing before bed and in a cliche designer fashion, settled on HGTV. Catching the end of a show, a young woman was being interview and stated how it only took her a year to build her tiny house.
Upon my return home from my trip, back at the dinner table with Nicholas, our dinner conversation strayed a little from our norm. We discussed current building trends, sustainability, and thus, the tiny house revolution. Referring back to my stay in Boston, I brought up the show I had seen and the year it took for the woman on the show to build her tiny home. With an inquisitive look in his eyes, Nicholas turned to me and said, "How long could it really take?" That question became our obsession.
"How long could it take to build a tiny house, with everything you need and maybe a few things you might want?" My interest was sparked. If only that had been his pick up line all those months ago.
After doing the math and scheduling it all out, 48 hours was the amount of time Nicholas believed it would take to build a tiny house, with precise planning and an extremely skilled crew.
The Night Before the Build.
So here we are. Utilizing my connections to vendors and his connections to sub-contractors, we planned out and assembled our team to complete our tiny house build in a single weekend. Being the realist in the relationship, I made my campaign for the build to take place over a weekend (72-hours). To Nicholas's dismay, he reluctantly gave in to my request and agreed to my extended time frame. Now, here we are. The night before the build. Our recent nights have consisted of finishing details and our dinner conversations, just like your everyday 23/25 year old couple, consist of staircase designs, composting toilets, and where you can find the smallest, lightest bathtub possible.
We're starting a movement. We're creating an experience. We're proving to others, and to ourselves, that building a tiny house can be a cost-effective, mobile, and energy-efficient alternative to the traditional apartment or house.
For Nicholas, this tiny house build is a challenge; a feat that requires him to plan, demands he be meticulous, and forces him to be diligent. For me, this tiny house is our first adventure in design and construction that we will complete together. And though it is nearly a year later, this tiny house is proof he did intend to build one, it wasn't just a pick up line.