DALLAS — It took a pandemic for Linda Tietje to find time to launch her business platform, Storyna. The storytelling concept was spurred by a desire to help people capture as many real-life stories as possible.
Tietje came to the U.S. from Germany to be with her husband 15 years ago.
"It’s been much longer than I thought," she chuckled.
Living away from family isn’t ideal but distance reminds her about the importance of sharing her heritage at home with her kids.
"I want them to know where their family is from and what that culture is like and what we as a country have learned," she said.
Tietje’s grandmother grew up in Nazi Germany. She had to flee the east side before the borders were closed.
"There’s a lot of pain but also perseverance and a lot of lessons that she could have passed on and we talked to her about it, but she didn’t feel comfortable for me to interview and record what she was telling me," Tietje said.
With her grandmother gone, Tietje is left with only bits and pieces.
"When I realized that we had lost that story is when I thought there has got to be a better way to capture those memories and those lessons learned," Tietje said.
The pandemic’s pause and her own brief illness spurred Tietje to create Storyna.
"I want them to hear my voice, to hear my perspective even though I’m no longer there," she shared.
Storyna's video-based platform guides people through tutorials to share their stories. It's coupled with goals, easy-to-follow assignments, and help with editing. Not good with words? No problem.
"The intention is not for us to help you to publish and be a bestselling author," Tietje said. "Imperfections I think is what makes this so valuable later. I can hire a ghostwriter and they can put together this perfect story, but I won’t be able to hear my mom’s voice the same way."
"That’s the beauty of those stories that they’re not perfect because we’re not perfect," she said.
When Storyna launched last August, Tietje used outside-the-box thinking, such as using LinkedIn to advertise.
"Trying to get the word out, I think that’s probably the biggest challenge for us as a bootstrapped small business to just let people know about it," she said. "We’re still growing and learning talking to people adjusting so that we can really offer to them what they really need."
What everyone needs, is to be heard.
"Their story really matters because I think that is always a big question, 'Do I have to have this outrageous life in order to write it down?' But I think you don’t. I think a lot of people need to know that somebody wants to hear it," she said.
Start early, don’t wait until you’re older. If the last year has taught us anything, it's that time isn’t guaranteed.
"It’s always good to reflect, to pause, and use that as a way to plan your next chapter," Tietje said.
Storyna recently added Magic Moments to their platform, which is a smaller project for people to write down 5 to 12 individual moments in a book. The company is also opening up its new online writing platform free of charge through March 2021, waiving the monthly subscription fee.