Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interview with Tofurky Founder Seth Tibbott: Living 7 Years in a Treehouse

A couple of years ago, I reached out to Tofurky confessing my love for their products and asked if anyone would be willing to give me an interview for my blog. I never imagined that I would receive such a positive response, and certainly didn't expect the company's founder, Seth Tibbott, to respond. He was a sweet, down-to-earth guy who shared his story with me and told me how he went from making tempeh to building one of the top vegan companies that come to my mind when I think of plant-based options!

He shared his story openly, and I was so excited to interview him. Then he mentioned he had lived in a treehouse. Say what?! I was intrigued and quickly asked him another set of questions that I hoped to one day share here as my interest in minimalism and financial savviness grew. I've been meaning to post this for nearly a full year now, and I finally have sat down and finished this post! Better late than never, and you'll love his story.

To read the full interview about Tofurky's company history that I had previously posted, click here.

The Little Red Journal (LRJ): How did you go about renting a tree to build your treehouse?

Seth Tibbott (ST): In 1985 I was making tempeh as a cottage industry in the small town of Husum, WA. My take home pay was $300/month and I needed a place to stay. I proposed a deal with a neighbor to rent three trees for $25/month, build a treehouse, and when I moved out, the treehouse became part of their property. I spent about $2,000 on the house and lived in it for seven years.

LRJ: What gave you the idea to build a treehouse?

ST: My friend Kirk Hoessele had built a really cool treehouse in a nearby town. I admired his house and thought, "This could work for me." Unbeknownst to me, another friend was building a treehouse in Husum (population 80) at the same time. We didn't find out about each other's treehouses until they were well underway.

LRJ: Did you gradually update as the years passed, or did you build out the treehouse completely in the beginning?

ST: The thing about a treehouse is you always keep building onto it. I added the third story coupola about two years after moving in. Just before moving out, I started building a cool pathway through the forest canopy but never finished it. The "treehouse peehouse" was added rather soon after moving in.

LRJ: Did you ever have guests in your home, and if so, where did they sleep?

ST: I had room to sleep two to four visitors. Downstairs there was a window seat that folded out into a double bed that you screwed legs onto (I had learned this trick from my father) and upstairs in the coupola I added another fold out bed.

LRJ: What do you miss about living in the treehouse?

ST: I miss the nightly visits from the flying squirrels who would land on the side of the house and poke their heads up to my bedroom window. That and gentle swaying of the house in the wind at night.

LRJ: Where do you currently reside? Are you still living in a small space?

ST: Currently, my wife and I live in a relatively small house of about 1,600 square feet, which is a lot bigger than the 264 square feet of the treehouse. There is a creek on one side of the house and a 12,000-foot mountain on the other side, so it's not a bad alternative to the treehouse at all. There is a small cottage about the size of my treehouse that my son stays in when he comes home from college.

Note from The Little Red Journal: Thank you Seth for taking the time to chat with me about the experience of living in a treehouse! It's so inspiring to hear a story of simple living.

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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