Elmwood Park woman starts publishing business

Kat Lahr, owner of Thought Collection Publishing, holds two of her journals that highlight writers and visual artists from around the world. The Elmwood Park resident created the company to provide opportunities for writers and artists who may not have been recognized by mainstream publishing companies. | David Pollard/Sun-Times Media
Kat Lahr, owner of Thought Collection Publishing, holds two of her journals that highlight writers and visual artists from around the world. The Elmwood Park resident created the company to provide opportunities for writers and artists who may not have been recognized by mainstream publishing companies. | David Pollard/Sun-Times Media

An Elmwood Park resident has started her own publishing business to highlight her own writing, as well as literary and visual art by others.

Kat Lahr, founder and creative director of Thought Collection Publishing, has been in business since 2012. She started her business to cut out the middleman while publishing her work and decided to support other writers and artists, too.

Lahr, 33, has lived in the village nine years and runs her publishing business out of her home. She has a business degree from Benedictine University, but admits writing nonfiction is her passion.

So, she combined both.

“I’m a publisher and entrepreneur,” she said. “You have to be both, and there’s no way around it. There’s a lot to the business aspect of running this.”

Her publishing business is divided into three areas: Thought Collection Publishing, the twice-yearly Thought Notebook Journal and the online-only Thought Notebook Webzine.

For her journal, she solicits writers and visual artists to submit themed work for each issue. “Renewal” was the topic for one of her recent journals; another was “the first time for everything.”

“We ask the artist how their thoughts connect to the theme,” she said. “We don’t pay them, but they’re happy for the exposure.”

She said submissions of art and literature come from all over the world. For the next journal, she’s looking for submissions relating to health care reform.

“It feels good because it fuels my passion,” she said. “I love to write and I know I’m able to focus on my writing on my own terms.”

It’s not just about the writing or artistic expression, but delving into issues in creative ways to see what people come up with, Lahr said.

“This is research — we’re studying humanity’s thoughts,” she said.

The journals cost $10 and the most of the money goes right back into the business. Lahr gives 10 percent of the proceeds to nonprofits that focus on social change at home and abroad, she said.

Her next big plan is to provide a vehicle for teenagers to express themselves through literature and visual art.

“We can’t support teens in the same way that we use to,” she said. “I want to collect their thoughts on their biggest issues in life.”

With the help of her husband and volunteers, she’s been able to keep the business running and hopes in the future to expand and publish her own works as well.

“I’m grateful for the connections I’ve made so far,” she said. “I’d like to eventually have my own app for my online magazine and access it regularly like a newspaper. … I’d like to eventually host events featuring the works that we’re doing.”

For more information on Thought Collection Publishing, visit www.thoughtcollection.org

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