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Designing a New Beginning: A Journey of Entrepreneurship and Design by Katie Hartzog Owner of Hartzog Interiors

When individuals are confronted with the harsh reality of unemployment, they must make a pivotal choice: to either carve their path as entrepreneurs or seek the security of traditional employment. Katie Hartzog faced this crucial decision when her job closed its doors, presenting her with the same dilemma. Ultimately, Katie opted to take a leap of faith and pursue her passion for interior design by launching her own business, Hartzog Interiors, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Transforming your space with a expert interior design service at Hartzog interior design and studio k. This is a design company that will help your on your home projects in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Learn more about this home designing business at the Fort Wayne Business Journal

While her business flourishes today, back in 2009, Katie tirelessly laid the foundation for the successful venture it has become. Today, let's delve into the inspiring journey of how Katie's love for homes led her to embrace a career she had always dreamed of.

Katie Hartzog was born and raised by her mother in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When describing her childhood, Katie mentioned that she had always been fascinated by homes, and from a young age, she knew she wanted to get into interior design. After graduating from North Side High School, Hartzog followed her dreams and earned her degree in interior design at IPFW. Throughout college, Katie had the privilege of interning with a local home building and design studio, where she would later gain employment after graduation. Over the next few years, Katie expanded her knowledge about the industry while working closely with other designers in the company. Katie had often contemplated starting her own interior design business but had never taken the leap. It wasn't until 2009, when the market crashed in her industry, and the company she worked for went under that she finally decided to take a chance on her dreams.

Entrepreneurship is sometimes a scary leap to take when your interested in starting a business. Kate Hartzog is a Fort Wayne entrepreneur who took her opportunity in starting a interior design business in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

When we spoke with Katie about that time in her life, we asked her if she was scared to go out on her own. She said,

"It's always scary to start your own business, but the thing is, you can always go back and be an employee. I was bartending in college while I interned for this company, so when they went under, my initial thought was, okay, I'm going to go back and bartend. Then I thought, I'm coming up on 30, and I always wanted my own business, so it felt like a now or never thing. If it didn't work, I was bartending, so I had to try it to see if it would work. Little by little, I would chip away at getting a client and then another client, and then it got to the point that I couldn't go to the bar at night and work because my schedule was full of clients. So yes, of course, anything like that is scary, but as you go and get into a grove, you realize maybe this is what it is supposed to be, and you are doing what you were supposed to do."

Katie launched Hartzog Interiors in 2009 out of her home, where she would stay for ten years. Over that time, she continuously expanded her client base and often asked her husband for help on nights and weekends when he wasn't tending to his lawn care business. In 2012, Katie gave birth to their daughter, Kavi. As Hartzog Interiors grew and the time spent with their daughter became less frequent due to their busy schedules, they decided to sell the lawn business. For the next several years, Katie and her husband were the only ones working for the company, handling customers, managing paperwork, coordinating contractors, and handling their ongoing inventory. It wasn't until Katie was at the hair salon, working on paperwork, that her hairdresser introduced her to someone who could help her manage a lot of the backend paperwork that she branched out and hired someone to help.

As the business quickly took over their house, Katie's husband nudged her to start looking for a separate business location. In 2018, she closed on a storefront on the corner of State Boulevard and Kentucky Avenue, but she wouldn't officially move in until 2019.

When your driving in Fort Wayne, Indiana and you see a mura on the side of a black building off State Blvd and Kentucky ave in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This build is a business called Hartzog Interior and Studio K by Hartzog.

When we asked her why she didn't move in right away, she said,

"It took me a while to get on board, to be honest, because with my job, I'm never at home. I'm with clients all day, going from job to job, so it was more of what I was used to, and I was already settled in. All my things were at the house, and I could come home and sneak into my office at night to work on things and the thought of going into an office and not having access to that seemed more difficult to me. Obviously, you adjust as things change, but it was more of my comfort zone than anything."

Katie Hartzog is the entrepreneur and business owner of Hartzog Interior Design and Studio K located off E State Blvd. in Fort Wayne. As she started her business and bought the building she wanted to redesign the inside and outside of this office building.

As the new location sat empty, people began to vandalize the property, and Katie realized it was time to occupy the space. With the additional showroom at the front of the new location, Katie decided to open a secondary business called Studio K. She said,

"Studio K was a secondary retail business which sprung up when I bought the building. I've always custom-ordered everything for projects as needed, but a lot of people would ask me where I get rugs and art because there's nowhere in town to really go for unique pieces. I like to bring a lot of products that you don't typically see in Fort Wayne to the area to offer to people that's a little more unique, trendy, and funky, so I decided to open up Studio K to give people access to those products who may not want interior design help but want to get a cool piece for themselves or someone else."

With her plans in place for the building, she got to work on the construction of the showroom first. She put in new flooring, painted the walls, and did a few other aesthetics to freshen up the space enough to launch the new company and move her current business from her home to the new location. She hired staff to manage Studio K and moved her current Hartzog Interiors employee to the new location. Over time, Katie continued to work on the space and did a complete renovation of the exterior of the building a few years later, bringing the eye-catching mural that we all see today.

As we talked through the transition into the new building and the ongoing growth of Hartzog Interiors, we asked Katie if she had encountered any product delays during COVID-19 due to the sourcing challenges affecting other industries. She said the most significant problems she faced were receiving kitchen appliances and flooring. She mentioned that it would take months after kitchen remodels were completed to get the appliances to finish the project. She said that today, receiving flooring materials is still not back to what it used to be. She noted that many of the vendors she uses are overseas because they have the best quality products, but oftentimes, the items she needs for projects get caught up in customs, causing delays in the project. We asked Katie how she handles challenges in this industry, and she said,

"Every day's a challenge. It's always random things that will go wrong at jobs, and nothing ever goes according to plan. It's more about managing how you respond to the challenges because every day there will be a lot of things that don't go right. I used to get very elevated and worked up over things, but I think my immunity has grown over the years. I've realized all the fires will be okay; you just have to put them out, and it's not always going to be an emergency situation."

Although every project is unique, we asked Katie what the average process looks like for clients once they contact her for interior design help, and she said the first step is always meeting clients at their homes to assess the project she is working on. From there, she will have several design meetings with the client to establish what style the client is looking for and go over all the different material options for the space. After everything is selected, Katie takes all of the chosen pieces back to the home to ensure everything still works well in the area and that the lighting in the room doesn't change the aesthetic. Once all materials are officially selected, Katie's team begins the construction process. The timeline for a project varies greatly depending on what she is working on, but she said the average project from start to finish is anywhere from 6 to 8 months. When we asked Katie what her favorite project to work on was, she had two answers: old homes and brand-new builds that she could design from start to finish.

Whether you prefer a minimalist, modern, traditional, or luxury home you can choose what best works for your when you start shoping around for home goods. If your looking to add a unique experience in your home oer where you live then check out Hartzog Interior design located in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Although the interior design industry can be competitive, Katie said her ability to offer clients the complete package sets her apart from the rest. She has the knowledge and experience to answer clients' questions about anything ranging from the construction process to the final finishings. As we discussed the future of Studio K and Hartzog Interiors, Katie said that she will be shutting Studio K down to the public at the end of March 2024. She plans to change Studio K into a by-appointment-only business so clients can still purchase cool pieces from her, but she needs to transform the current showroom into a functional design studio for her Hartzog Interiors clients. She wants to create a space for her clients to view all their material options in one place, ranging from flooring and paint colors to hardware finishings and accent pieces, so she doesn't have to drag clients all over town to see their options. She hopes that with this new building design, she can create a smoother and less overwhelming process for her clients. Aside from the significant changes happening in the businesses, Katie also hopes to continue taking on large-scale projects to continue challenging herself and evolving as a designer. To finish our conversation, we asked Katie what she would say to other entrepreneurs wanting to start their own businesses. She said,

"Go for it. You have to do it, or else you'll never know. Just try it, and if it's meant to be, it will."
When you take the leap as an entrepreneur into the unknown good thing can come out of taking the risk. You can find success if you work hard enough. Katie Hartzog is hard working entrepreneur that has built two business from the ground up. She is a success in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Check out her article at Fort Wayne Business Journal.

Fort Wayne Business Journal shares stories of Fort Wayne businesses and entrepreneurs. Learn more about Fort Wayne, Indiana and its history here!

We want to thank Katie Hartzog for sharing her story with us and expressing her love for her industry. If you have had the pleasure of seeing any of the projects she has worked on, you know that she pours all she can into every space she works on. We also want to thank Nike with Creative Roots Media for capturing the photos you see throughout the article. If you like reading the stories of entrepreneurs transforming Fort Wayne, one business at a time, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter so you're always in the loop about what is happening here at the Fort Wayne Business Journal.


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