We had the good fortune of connecting with Lori Helke and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lori, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have been a travel blogger since 2011, but in 2019, before I published my first children’s book, Beatrice The Little Camper Gets Rescued, I knew I had to start my business. Until that time, my blog wasn’t making any money and hoped the book and future books would elevate me into a profitable business at some point. I wanted legitimacy.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’d always loved writing. From a young age, the only way I could express my feelings was by keeping a journal. The words were and continued to be my therapy. In 2011 I took my first trip to Paris and it changed my life forever. I became more confident than I ever had been. I discovered things about myself on that trip that I had kept hidden my whole life. Mostly, I discovered a deep love of travel, exploration, and an appreciation for other cultures and people. That is when I started my first travel blog to share this unknown part of me with the world.

After losing my actual job in 2016, after 32 years, I rebranded and rebuild my travel blog (called Lori Loves Paris), and began getting serious about pursuing travel as a new midlife career choice. I quickly found that it takes a long time to make any money from blogging, so I went to work for my local Post Office delivering mail while traveling and writing as much as I could.

In 2017, I pitched an idea to my very handy husband, Rick, about renovating a tiny vintage camper to use as not only a backyard writing retreat but a camper I could hitch up and camp when I wanted. It took 10 months to rebuild a mostly rotted 1969 camper. When “Beatrice” was finished, I took one look at her and envisioned a children’s book character going on camping adventures, making friends, and learning lessons along the way.

I dreamed of seeing my name on a book of my own for as long as I can remember, so I completed the rough manuscript of “Beatrice The Little Camper Gets Rescued” in two hours. Life got in the way and that story was filed away until 8 months later. Encouraged by a friend and author, I went forward with self-publishing that book. I learned everything I could about publishing a book. I hired an editor, illustrator, and third-party printing company. There were a lot of mistakes I made, like ordering WAY too many copies.

A few months later, 2000 copies of that book arrived on my doorstep. Now I had to sell them. As a naïve first-time author, I envisioned my children’s book would sell out. Reality set in and I did what I was familiar with. Signing up for vendor and artist fairs. Covid hit and halted all that. What saved me was a letter and a copy of my book that I sent to Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World. A couple of months later, I received a call from him praising my book, and a purchase order for 1400 books!

That gave me the courage to write and publish my second children’s book, “Beatrice The Little Camper’s Brave New Friend” in 2020. I put the things I learned from publishing the first book into action the second time around.

Meanwhile, I quit working outside the home in 2020 and again rebranded my travel website, which is now Lori Loves Adventure.

I recently published two camping journals and will begin research this summer for an upcoming guide to Wisconsin Harbor Towns.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would head to the nearest city of Sheboygan. First, we’d enjoy coffee and breakfast at Paradigm Coffee or Field To Fork on 8th street. I would suggest a visit to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and the only botanical garden in Wisconsin with a children’s book theme, Bookworm Gardens. A great lunch spot is II Ritrovo for the best wood-fired pizza. Next, I’d head to Deland Park for a walk along the beach and if we’re lucky, we will spot some surfers riding the waves of Lake Michigan. Then I’d take her to the new John Michael Kohler Arts Preserve to see the cool artist environments. We could then stop at the mystical James Tellen Sculpture Garden. Finally, we would have an authentic Wisconsin Supper Club experience (don’t forget the old fashions) at Majerle’s Black River Grill.

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 would like to dedicate my Shoutout to my husband of 32 years, Rick. He has been a tireless supporter of everything I’ve done. He supports me whether I am traveling on my own, writing and marketing my books, or if I come up with crazy ideas like renovating an old beat-up camper.

Website: https://lorihelke.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lorilovesadventure/?hl=en

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lori-helke/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lorilovesadv

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorilovesadventure

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.