We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Kurpanek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I left the world of classroom teaching in 2019 with a gut feeling that it was time for a change, but I wasn’t yet sure what that looked like. Meanwhile, I had begun sharing “zero waste” tips through my Instagram in 2017 just for fun and kept receiving a lot of positive feedback, interest, and questions. LOTS of questions. The more I learned about how to live sustainably, the more I realized there is a big lack of accessible education around these topics, at least in my area.
From here, I began to wonder what it might look like to make a coaching career out of this idea. In talking with my sister-in-law, my husband, and many other influential people in my life, the concept really began to take shape and grow. I began That Minimal Life, LLC, with a simple website, Instagram, and blog in January of 2020, with the intent of coaching in person… and then Covid-19 hit and turned the world upside down.
What became a surprising benefit, however, was the global-scale learning of how to work virtually! This has allowed me to connect with countless people I may not have been able to work with otherwise. Now I have the option to work from home with my son, and I can meet clients in-person depending on their comfort level.
The pandemic also deepened my love of listening to podcasts, and when I realized I could apply the same principles of meeting with people via Zoom for coaching, I decided to start my own podcast this way! “All Things Sustainable” launched on the 2-year anniversary of my business on January 1st of this year, 2022, and I’m enjoying every single interview with amazing experts across the realm of sustainability.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I firmly believe living sustainably is possible for everyone, but it will not look the same for everyone. We all come from various places, privileges, family needs, budgets, etc, and this can’t be a one-size-fits-all type of deal.
With that in mind, what sets my coaching apart is my goal to meet you wherever you are and to give you as many resources and as much guidance as I possibly can. Living in a way that takes care of the planet should also take care of you, your loved ones, and bring you joy, not another burden. I want to support you and empower you, which means this coaching needs to be highly accessible.
My support ranges from totally free (like my podcast episodes, blogs, social media posts, and the occasional free events), as well as more in-depth and/or personalized coaching options that are available in-person, virtually, and (coming this year) digital downloads, so you can go at your own pace and based on your budget.
You don’t need to go buy a bunch of fancy / plastic-free items to live sustainably. You don’t need to condense all your trash into a tiny mason jar. And you definitely shouldn’t be driven to make changes out of guilt or shame or fear.
I am your person when you need support, encouragement, guidance, and accountability. When you need eco-hacks and money-saving tips, I’m here. If you’re a total newbie, or you’ve taken a few sustainable steps but feel overwhelmed by what to do next, I’ve got you.
We’re in this together, progress over perfection!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I take everyone I can to The Zero Market, either in the Stanley Marketplace or Edgewater Public Marketplace in Denver. They were Colorado’s very first zero-waste store, and have inspired many others to pop up around the state! Their selection of refillable bulk goods includes household products, personal care items, loose-leaf teas, herbs, oils and more.
Both of these marketplaces also offer a fun variety of other local businesses to explore, shop, with cozy places to sit and talk. Grabbing some coffee to-go (in reusable cups of course 😉 ) and walking the nearby trails, parks, or Sloan’s Lake is always a refreshing activity in my mind.
Denver has so many options for plant-based food/drink, full of delicious, vibrant flavors! My dream day would include stopping by City o’ City for their vegan BBQ mac’n’cheese bowl, a crazy good vegan caesar salad from Sputnik, amazing dairy-free ice cream from Sweet Cow, and drinks from the urban winery Infinite Monkey Theorem.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shout-out to my sister-in-law, Elizabeth Kurpanek, who is an elopement videographer and creator of EMBR Films (http://embrfilms.com/)
She really gave me the boost of confidence I needed to develop this business idea, and has given countless forms of support along the way!
Other: You can find my podcast by searching “All Things Sustainable” wherever you play your podcasts, or just visit this website: https://allthingssustainable.buzzsprout.com If you’re interested in joining my Patreon community and receiving a bunch of perks like exclusive discounts to shops/services, joining Q&As with my podcast guests, and more — visit: www.patreon.com/allthingssustainable
Erin Lassahn Photography