Entrepreneurship Inspires Us

May 13, 2020

Back to News

In keeping with our culture statement, there's nothing that inspires us quite like entrepreneurship. It's how Milhaus started, and it's a spirit we look for in all of our team members. We are constantly amazed at the unique skills and talent each one of our #TeamMilhaus members brings to the table in addition to their work ethic and know-how. Whether they are crafting handmade goods, sharing a product that sets their soul on fire or just doing something they love, Milhuas employees follow their passions and, sometimes, those passions turn into a business.

Below are just a few of our talented team member and their "side hustles" that truly inspire us all.

Oliver Haste, Superintendent

Occam's Handmade

In addition to his work at Milhaus, Oliver creates custom leather goods by hand. He has a small workshop in Putnam County, Indiana, and particularly enjoys making messenger bags, satchels, duffle bags, totes and ladies' purses. Visit his Instagram page @occams_handmade to check out the goods.

Q: How did you get into working on your business?

A: When my oldest son was graduating from college, I wanted to get him a leather weekend duffle bag for a graduation gift. I noticed as I searched for homemade bags that they were $800 to $1,000, and the ones we could afford were mass-produced and imported.

So, I bought one of those mass-produced bags but started a journey to make my own duffle bag out of leather. Initially, my idea was to make something that would last a lifetime – an heirloom-quality bag that my sons would be proud to travel with and even pass on. I researched patterns and different elements of bags to learn how a handle was made and the construction of an outside pocket. I think it took me about a year before I made that first duffle bag, which took me a month to make.

There must have been a thousand hand sewn stitches or more as I worked on that bag every evening after work. I made a fair number of mistakes but enjoyed the process and the result of making something with my hands.

Q: What continues to inspire you in this business?

A: A friend of mine was getting on a plane and noticed a gentleman with one of my custom messenger bags. He started a conversation with him and even sent me a photo of the bag. I recognized the bag as a custom piece I made for a gift, but never knew or met the owner. It was neat that my bag stood out and someone recognized my work.

I really enjoy making things that people use. I love seeing a bag, wallet or notebook cover I made being loved and enjoyed. It's cool to see the story that leather tells – the scars, scratches, stains and parts that are polished by use. I love the custom work! When a client picks out the leather and tells me how they intend to use the item, I find myself thinking about the person and where the bag will travel.

Q: What are your future plans for your business?

A: I plan to continue making custom leather goods, one at a time. I enjoy the craft and seeing the things I make used for their purpose.

Jen Hedges, Director of Residential Services

Tori Belle

Jen Hedges, Director of Residential Services, sells a brand of makeup and eyelashes called Tori Belle. She operates her business through social media and maintains a business and training website for her "Lash Slingers!"

Q: How did you get into working on your business?

A: I have always loved makeup and had worn eyelash extensions since I lost all of mine during chemotherapy treatments about four years ago. I was spending over $180 per month on my eyebrows and eyelash fills, and it was just getting unmanageable. A girlfriend introduced me to the magnetic lashes and brand called Tori Belle and I decided to try them out. I loved the product immediately as it returned my confidence without spending so much money! Selling them just "happened" and it has turned into such a blessing for my family!

Q: What connections have you made through your business?

A: Wow! I have met so many people with such amazing stories. This business is made up of women that love what they do in addition to finding a supplemental way to support their families!

Q: Future plans for your business?

A: Honestly, I am not looking to be huge by any means. Tori Belle lashes and makeup is a product I firmly stand behind. Additionally, I love the people I get to meet and help achieve their goals. It is very similar to what I do as my "main gig" as a director in property management. I have a passion for teaching others how to be successful and watching them soar and build their dreams. It is just what I love to do!

Andrejs Kancs, Manager of Finance and Asset Management

Bella Bridesmaids

Andrejs Kancs co-owns the only bridesmaids-only wedding boutique in Indiana with his wife, Dina. The boutique has the largest collection of bridesmaid dresses from the world's leading designers. At Bella Bridesmaids, they recognize every bride has her own vision and each bridesmaid is unique.

Q: How did you get into your business?

A: Owning Bella Bridesmaids combines my wife's two dreams that she had since she was young: Being in the wedding industry and owning a boutique.

In terms of how we got started, it almost didn't happen! Eight years ago, the original owner of Bella Bridesmaids was selling the store and my wife, and I thought it would be a great idea to try and buy the store then. Luckily, it didn't work out. The experiences we have had both personally and professionally between 2012 and when we purchased the store in June 2018 taught us the tools to successfully run and own Bella Bridesmaids today.

Q: How do you grow and support your business today? 

A: Bella Bridesmaids uses social media to market. We are also very lucky that the designers we work with promote us, as well. We also have three wonderful stylists who work in the showroom with my wife on a daily basis and an amazing franchise team based in Chicago that provides help and guidance whenever we need it.

Q: What unique stories can you share? 

A: Every wedding, every bride, and every bridesmaid is unique. My wife and I love when our clients have great stories to share with us, as it helps us connect to our clients on a personal level.

Aaron Miller, Manager of Information Technology

Arcade Cabinet Repair

In addition to being Manager of IT, Aaron Miller collects, fixes and sells old arcade games in his spare time.

Q: How did you get into working on your business?

A: I've always been interested in arcade games, but never had the opportunity to own one myself. About six years ago, I bought my first arcade game, Space Invaders, at a garage sale for $100 that didn't work. I brought it home and watched a crash course in circuit bubble logic gates and got the monitor running.

I have owned and sold around 250 arcade games – they multiply faster than you think! I usually find them at garage sales, antique malls and on Facebook Marketplace.

Q: How do you market your business?

A: People usually find out about my projects by word-of-mouth and social media. I am also part of a local group where we share tips, buy each other's machines and get together to talk about all things arcade games.

Q: What is one of your most interesting repair experiences?

A: My car is pretty small, so I usually plan to rent a truck or use someone else's vehicle. But one time I came across the perfect deal on Craigslist and needed to get there immediately. The cabinet fit in my tiny car sideways, with the majority of it hanging out of the car… in the pouring rain. Surprisingly enough, the game worked when I got home, even though it was soaked.

Another interesting thing is I had a part in the opening of Tappers Arcade Bar, which is right across the street from the Milhaus office. I've sold a couple games to them and it's always fun to see a game I worked on in the bar.

Q: What are your future plans for your business?

In the future I would love to host classes to share my knowledge with others. I just really enjoy the social aspect of the community and all the knowledge I have found learning from others.

We hope you are as inspired by some of our employees and their side hustles as we are. Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Come join our team!