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UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center

Stories from the Heart with Amy Butler, the Story Scribe

Amy Butler of The Story Scribe
The Story Scribe, LLC
Amy Butler | Kansas City, Mo. | Microenterprise

Amy Butler has always liked to listen to other people tell their life stories. It wasn’t until she read an article about a woman who was president of the Association of Personal Historians that she discovered she could make a living on recording memoirs.

After a career defining “sink or swim” moment, Amy decided to take the leap and quit her part-time job to make the Story Scribe her full-time business. Below, Amy shares the story behind her business and what makes her tick.

The Story Scribe, LLC is a memoir writing service. Through a series of interviews, I gather a client’s personal recollections and reflections and create a long-form narrative, told in the client’s voice. The story, together with photos and images of mementos, is printed and bound into heirloom quality books.

Who or what inspired you to start your business?

I’ve always been interested in other people’s stories—how they grew up, what have been their life’s passions, joys and tragedies. But it wasn’t until several years ago that I discovered there’s an industry devoted to helping people preserve their stories.

One day I was flipping through my college alumni magazine and stumbled on a short piece about a woman who had served as the president of the Association of Personal Historians. I called her, and she convinced me to join the association. A week later, the Kansas City Star ran a piece about personal history, and my first client found me on the association’s directory. It was a case of good luck meets good business decision.

What’s your big news in 2016?

I just finished a big project with a retired Air Force colonel, and I’m in the process of working with my colleague Kathy Evans on a book about a Special Forces soldier and another about a man who fought in Israel’s War of Independence.

The latter also worked as an Aliyah Betnik, a crew member on a ship that ran the British Blockade to bring Holocaust survivors to Mandatory Palestine just before Israel gained its statehood. It’s a fascinating chapter in history, and one I wasn’t aware of before I started working on this project. Learning about these kinds of things is one of the reasons I love my work.

Which entrepreneurial resources have you worked with?

I made the jump a few months ago from home office to Cowork Waldo. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done for my business. In the five years I’ve been operating The Story Scribe, I have visited KC Bizcare, worked with mentors from SCORE, and drawn inspiration from members of networking groups like Women’s Executive Club and Central Exchange.

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?

Courage. The funny thing is, I never would have thought of myself as courageous in the business-endeavor sense. But each small step toward success—and I count among those the failures that I’ve overcome—has led to a greater trust in myself as an entrepreneur and a businessperson.

What has been your biggest triumph so far?

My biggest triumph happened just a year or so after I started The Story Scribe. I was newly divorced and working a part-time job while running my fledgling business. I got a call from a new client one day and my first thought was, “No! I don’t have time for another book project!” Within seconds it struck me like a bolt—it was time to sink or swim. It was a defining moment for my career. I quit the part-time job and haven’t looked back since.

What is your favorite quote?

 “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” That’s a line from a poem by Muriel Rukeyser.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire.

  • Lori Bryan runs a hugely successful consulting business. Her warmth and kindness turns the stereotype of a cutthroat business owner on its head.
  • Kathy Evans, a fellow personal historian in St. Louis, has taught me reams not only about our business, but about being a businessperson in general.
  • And Pete the Bug Guy Weikel, owner of a KC pest control service, has a remarkable story of success followed by failure followed by success. His motto is, “Just do what you gotta do.” Simple and true.

Get social with The Story Scribe

Facebook: The Story Scribe
LinkedIn: Amy Butler

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