Founding a company at 18. My Tiny House Belgium Journey
This picture was the first picture on my Tiny House Belgium Facebook page. It shows the Tiny House I built in California right after I turned 17. So for those of you who recognize it, you’ve been following me for a while…
Tiny House Belgium is a project I started with back in January last year (2016). My cousin Reinout Bauwens and I built Tiny Houses in our workshop in Ghent (BE), and I also concentrated on promoting Tiny House living as an alternative housing solution.
Why did I start Tiny House Belgium?
To explain why I started THB we have to go all the way back to when I turned 9 years old. I know, that’s a long time ago. My parents and I lived in Melle (BE) in an average-sized house near the City of Ghent (BE). I loved it there, I didn’t ask myself any questions and lived life like I thought it should be lived. Everything was fine, average, nothing special, until we moved.
My parents, mainly my dad wanted to start a B&B in the town he grew up in, Adegem (BE). It’s about an hour away from where we lived now. So they decided to build a new house out there. I was excited! I remember how fascinated I was looking at our house being built, and I looked up to the people that were building it. Eventually, we moved into that house in the winter of 2007.
Being so close to the construction of our house I guess I picked up on woodworking. After the move, I got a drill from my grandfather and soon after started experimenting on some really crappy construction projects: bird nests, chicken coops, and other small structures of this nature. I enjoyed it a lot and people seemed to notice that.
A few years later, on a Saturday morning, I was working away on one of my projects in my parents shed, and a car pulled up the driveway. It was my cousin, Reinout Bauwens. He was in the process of building a new house that was almost finished, and he asked me to help him with his next project; building a shed. I said yes, and that’s where it all began for me.
Shortly after, I left traditional education for a trade school, and started investing in machinery with every dollar I had. 2 years into my school program, I got the opportunity to furnish a full office space, and that’s when I decided to quit school altogether. Let’s be clear, this was not an easy task and not something I would recommend to anyone, but at the time it was the right thing to do, and I’m happy I did.
This project was the start for me. I made enough money to buy the machines I needed to build this project and to rent a little workshop close to my parent’s house. So from this point on, I did home schooling, and after 8 months I got my High-School degree. The last 3 months that time period, I had the chance to go to California. The first time I was in the US was a little less than 1 year before this, and I loved just loved being there. I loved it so much that I asked everyone I knew if they knew anyone in the US. That’s how we found the Vermuë’s, a mutual friend of my parents who had a second home in Mount-Shasta, CA. They gave me the chance to stay with them for 3 months if I would assist them with the construction of a Tiny House. This was something I had never done before, but I had built structures, kitchens, bathrooms, and more before, just never all for one project, or on this scale.
After this 3-month experience, I came back to Belgium and tried University for a while. I majored in Criminology, something totally different that I still am fascinated by. But after a few months, during the exams, I quit. While the university had many interesting classes for me to take, they would ask exam questions such as “when was the writer of this book born?” At that point, I ask myself what the difference was in studying at university and studying Wikipedia. Educational systems are way too focused on knowledge, even though that’s the one thing we all have access to at our fingertips, so I dropped out and started building my own Tiny House.
In the process of building this tiny house, I also built a Facebook page, which surprisingly gained a lot of attention. On this page, I would share our progress and develop interesting content for followers to consume. People started asking questions, a lot of questions. The questions led to an interest in purchasing one for themselves. And so it started…
About Louis De Keyser
Louis is a 20 year old, in the process of moving from Belgium to his dream city, New York. He was the founder and CEO of Tiny House Belgium, a Tiny House Design and Construction company that focused on promoting the idea of 'smaller living' and 'living life without a mortgage'. He sold his business in January 2017 to pursue his dream of moving to North-America. Right now, Louis lives in Toronto Canada. Stay up-to-date by signing up to my Messenger List!