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Meet John Kernohan of United Tiny House Association in SouthEast Atlanta

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Kernohan.

After spending his adult life creating, developing and having patented at-home medical specimen collection mechanisms and immunoassays, John retired at the age of 49 when he realized, while lying in a hospital bed and being diagnosed with a life-altering ill-health condition, that his life-long quest of accumulating wealth was not a life of living. He made the decision to sell his medical research laboratory, to reclaim his health (he lost over 80 pounds and shed 10″ off his waist); then, began a quest of learning what it really meant to be truly happy.

John’s then girl-friend, now-wife and business partner, Fin, convinced John he needed to leave South Florida and move to the woods of Georgia where she observed he enjoyed spending his time. Additionally, Fin convinced John he should build a home in the woods with his own hands and together they built a 304sqft off-grid, tiny house, known as Beloved Cabin, where they have live for the past 6+ years.

In the Fall of 2015 and after the coaxing of Fin, John founded the Georgia Tiny House Association, since re-named the United Tiny House Association. In March 2016, they held their first event, the 2016 Georgia Tiny House Festival and since then, they along with their Board, have organized 7 Tiny House Festivals in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and Tennessee… including the World’s three largest tiny house events; the 2016 Florida Tiny House Festival, the 2017 Florida Tiny House Festival and the 2018 Georgia Tiny House Festival.

Their for-charity Tiny House Festivals have gained international recognition as being the largest philanthropy intended tiny house events on record, such as their 60,000+ attendee 2016 Florida Tiny House Festival and 116 tiny structure 2017 Florida Tiny House Festival, which have raised MANY THOUSANDS of dollars for over 50 charities and worthwhile causes. Over the course of the past two years, John’s for-charity Tiny House Festivals have built a tiny house for a homeless veteran, helped pay for a fifth wheel travel trailer for a homeless veteran, raised money and purchased equipment for fire departments around the Country, purchased life-saving medical equipment for multiple-children’s hospitals and has financially supported many charities and causes such as but not limited to: Alzheimer’s research and support groups, cancer research, breast cancer research and support groups, youth groups, Martin Luther King Holiday events, preservation & restoration projects, many churches, inner city projects, youth groups, and over 50 other organizations, non-profits and great causes.

Additionally, their organization founded and endowed the annual Tiny House Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to a college-bound high school graduate who has displayed high achievements both scholastically and in community service.

Also, in 2017, John and Fin founded their newest philanthropy project known as Tiny House Rescuers, which salvages unfinished tiny homes from being scrapped, completing these homes and gifting them to displaced families who are in need.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
For the most part, yes, it has been a smooth road. The only “struggles” along the way have been individuals in no way associated with our organization who illegally and improperly use our registered trademark name and licensed the business name to promote their own events, products and services. I even had to take a guy to court because he created a website and Facebook page in our name claiming our 2017 Georgia Tiny House Festival was going to be held at his event venue location when it never was going to be nor did we ever talk with him about having it there. That was really weird.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about United Tiny House Association – what should we know?
In a world where people are out to make a profit for themselves, which is very admirable when anyone can make an honest dollar, we are different from other events as we focus on serving others and financially supporting a cornucopia of charities, non-profits, and great causes.

Additionally, we give the attendees of our events what they pay for… A FESTIVAL!

We not only have many dozens of tiny homes for attendees to view and tour, but we also have live music, multiple bands and stages, fire performers, lots of entertainment and so much more!

We are also big on supporting the local communities where we have our events. In fact, we donate $10.00 per volunteer hour in the name of our volunteers to the local charity they designate. Example: If a volunteer offers 10 hours of their time during our event, they receive the customary t-shirt, free weekend admission to the event, food and drink, plus we will donate $100.00 (10 volunteer hours x $10.00) in their name to a local charity, non-profit or great cause of their choosing. Plus, we give local non-profits a free booth at our events where they can promote their cause and do whatever fundraising they want.

What I am most proud of is the direct impact we make in people’s lives. In just two short years, we have helped put roofs over the heads of families, food on tables, life-saving equipment into fire departments, help further a student’s education and so much more.When I see all the happy faces, listen to the laughter and witness so many people enjoying themselves at our events, I smile inside knowing that each of our attendees supporting someone in need – and chances are they may not even realize it.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Thinking of what others need first, instead of thinking of what I want, has definitely been the key ingredient for our huge success in such a short time. (I believe this is key to the success of any business.)

I firmly believe that by stepping out of one’s self and trying to walk in the shoes of others will allow a business the unique opportunity to succeed in any market – even a market that could be saturated by others.

Two years ago, there were no tiny house events and today there are 1-4 a month. Both people in the tiny house community and entities in no way related to the tiny house community, such as large expo and convention corporations, are all putting on tiny house events today. Some are successful, some are not and some are canceled right before their event dates. Yet, our events keep getting larger and more successful. I do not believe it is because we are special, but I do believe it is because we are unique. And what makes us unique is that, we organize each event with everyone else in mind. We are constantly thinking and planning on how our vendors and participants can make $$ during our events, how we can raise funds for all the non-profits and charities, what causes we can support and give benefit to and how we can make sure the attendees of our events have an incredible experience.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mandy Leap Photography, Corey Cecil Photography, Hartman Outdoor Photography, John & Fin Kernohan

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Carmen Shenk

    April 4, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Fin and John are the coolest people and I can’t wait to visit one of their events!!

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