“Folks say they've just had an ordinary life, but that is universally not true. Ordinary lives have remarkable experiences in them. What seems ordinary to them can be powerful and helpful to others.”
There's no such thing as an "ordinary life" in the eyes of Signal Mountain resident Hilarie Robison.
Many may know her as executive director of the Mountain Education Foundation, which is dedicated to providing Signal Mountain students with educational opportunities not funded by Hamilton County Schools. But she is also co-owner of Legacy Tale, an online business dedicated to preserving memories and telling families' stories.
Services provided include custom interviews, publishing family books, and providing e-books for do-it-yourselfers on how to conduct interviews, organize photos and write life stories.
Robison and her husband, Ben, began their family-run business in 2013 when an older couple who were friends of the family asked Hilarie to help them write their life story as an heirloom to leave to their children and grandchildren. Having an extensive background in writing and editing, she agreed.
She believes that families who share their trials and triumphs with their kin will not only strengthen their relationships, but also the generations yet to come, who may experience similar struggles in their own lives.
"I love to help people recognize how history has shaped their lives and how recording their history can shape their future," Robison said. "Not only have [clients] found healing, growth and understanding, they become more strategic in planning their future."
Pleased with her work, the older couple began referring Robison to other families. In 2015, she and her husband decided to leave their jobs in Las Vegas and pursue Legacy Tale full time.
Robison and her family moved to Chattanooga from Las Vegas nine months ago. They were drawn to the area because of the thriving startup business community, she said.
Since their move, their goal has been to expand their online platform and grow their membership base. They want to teach families the art of the interview and how to effectively tell others' stories through their e-books and online courses.
"Interviewing is an art but there is some science to it," Robison said. "You have to prioritize. I encourage families to sit down together and figure out what is most important."
The courses also deal with covering sensitive information with an interviewee.
"We wouldn't be the tough, determined person we are without having had that trial in our life. It's our reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines our life story," said Robison.
Telling other people's stories has also impacted her own.
"Everybody has overcome hard trials, and that puts my own life in perspective," Robison said. "I feel privileged that they are willing to share these things with me. You gain intimacy very quickly. It's impossible to have a client without having a friend because you become so connected and intertwined in their lives."
Legacy Tale's online services and contact information can be found at legacytale.com.