“Get lost to find yourself” is the philosophy and goal for WalknTalk, a notebook supply company created by Loyola alum Nathan Minnehan.
Minnehan, a 24-year-old 2012 graduate originally from Rochester, New York, who currently resides in Chicago, began his college education as a journalism and philosophy major, adding a Spanish major his junior year. Today he is trilingual, fluent in English, Spanish and Czech. He decided to study abroad in Argentina his junior year, which is where his dream began.
In Argentina, Minnehan began making notebooks out of rooftop materials. He would stain pages with coffee and collect wood from the street. After staining them he would leave the pages out to dry, which gave them an antique look and made them smell like coffee and leather. The name has now evolved from Coffee Books WalknTalk to just WalknTalk.
Minnehan made a sign on a street corner in Argentina at a local fair and would sell his notebooks every Sunday. There, he said his notebooks “began expanding into international areas.”
“I did not only want to make notebooks, I wanted to have them be part of something bigger,” Minnehan said.
When he got back from Argentina he continued to sell his products, setting up a website and working off street corners in Chicago.
“Little by little, little seeds are planted and threads are pulled through,” Minnehan said about pursuing dreams.
Minnehan has sold 1,200 of his notebooks, which are sold in 10 stores in 20 countries, some of these being the Czech Republic, Peru, Australia, Italy, Spain, Germany and Ireland, as well as Argentina.
The notebooks currently range between $20 and $50, depending on the notebook’s size and the material that is used.
Fernando Garces, a former classmate of Minnehan’s, said, “Modern business follows certain parameters. To succeed in the business shark tank you need to break those parameters and schemes,” said the 21-year-old junior economic, finance and psychology triple major. “Nathan is definitely the type of entrepreneur willing to break those parameters. He has the kind of mindset that allows him to succeed and is the kind of person people automatically like.”
WalknTalk sells a variety of notebooks that are a combination of different styles and has accessory pouches made of leather. The company is also currently working on a leather iPhone case.
The first notebook created by Minnehan is the “Tom-Sawyer,” a leather notebook about the size of a normal composition notebook. It comes in the classic brown, bright orange, purple suede and royal blue.
Caroline Sletten Larsson, a customer of Minnehan’s, said the note books are more than just cardboard and paper.
“Nathan’s notebooks are meant to take you on a journey. As your pen touches the paper, [you] get lost in your words,” said the 20-year-old sophomore sociology and international studies double major.
According to Minnehan, if you have a dream, the “key thing is to keep track of the little things … get lost in your talent.”
In addition, Minnehan said he believes strongly in “keeping it green, keeping it local,” as well as “merging old-world design with a modern finish.” He brings in paper from local mills in order to strive for a more eco-friendly approach to making his products. The leather he uses comes mainly from Ohio and California.
At the moment, Minnehan sells his products off his website or through small local shops, as well as on street corners. One of the shops where you can find his products is at Armadillo’s Pillow in Rogers Park, which was the first store to carry his products.
Minnehan’s products can be found at www.walkntalk.com.