March 2020

How Tiny Doors ATL became a local phenomenon

Looking to turn your passion into a business? That’s just what Karen Anderson Singer did. Recently, “The Heartbeat of Main Street” talked to Karen to find out how her company — Tiny Doors ATL — evolved from a personal art project into a successful business and local phenomenon.

Bringing big wonder to small spaces

Karen Anderson Singer, an art school graduate, got into the business of making tiny doors. Her Atlanta-based art project brings wonder to small spaces — by literally installing 7-inch doors in strategic places throughout the city.

Creating tiny doors — and only creating a few

According to Karen, she followed a non-traditional business model. She decided to go smaller and address supply and demand in a completely different way. Her solution? Make just a few tiny doors a year — and make each one matter. Each door Karen creates is inspired by and respects the neighborhood it’s in, whether it’s in a business area or a residential neighborhood. Her goal is for each door to invite interactivity and feel like it belongs right where it is.

Building multiple profit centers

Karen followed the path of artists — like muralists — who aren’t able to put out thousands of pieces a year, but can produce 10 or 12 great pieces a year. She explained that a muralist might look for 10 or 12 companies who are interested in commissioning. And that’s exactly what Karen did. She won commissions to do tiny doors, and then built additional business around that. For example, she sells other types of merchandise and has established herself as a speaker at area conferences and school events. Karen finds that it’s really fun to go talk to students who have seen the doors. And it allows her to be more than just a door production factory.

Turning a passion into a profitable business

When she was starting out, Karen turned to her friend Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls for some sage advice that Karen is only too happy to pass on: Do more of the things you love. And don’t do the things you don’t love. She slowly and deliberately made the leap into Tiny Doors ATL, and she’s really glad she did. While she took a lot of big steps along the way, most of her progress resulted from a lot of little decisions that allowed her to grow into a real business.

To listen to the podcast, visit the Small Business Community.