MADE in the USA Gifts by Women Friendly Businesses. Our Story.


Katie Pietrak
Owner, Vintage Vinyl Journals
Telford, PA

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“Watching my father work really hard growing up really inspired me to work hard and showing me that starting a business was obtainable.”

Based in Telford, PA, Vintage Vinyl Journals was launched in the spring of 2011 by native Philadelphian Katie Pietrak.

Katie Pietrak has a Bachelors of Science from LaSalle University and an MBA from St. Joseph’s University and spent the majority of her working life in the corporate world. After organizing her vinyl collection one day, she realized the black vinyl, colorful labels, and great artwork on the sleeves would make fantastic book covers and came upon the idea to make notebooks out of them.

The unique journals gained interest among friends and family who encouraged her to fully devote her time to making journals and creating a business. As owner of the company she is now able to merge her creative, organizational, and business skills into a unique and eco-friendly project as well as showcase her passion for music.

VVJ-Abbey-Road-FrontWhat inspires you? Watching my father work really hard growing up really inspired me to work hard and showing me that starting a business was obtainable. He worked a full-time job as a Firefighter in Philadelphia and on the side studied to be an electrician and start his own Electrical business which he still owns and runs. My brother also started out in a corporate setting and realized quickly it wasn’t for him. He has owned (restores and sells old video games and parts,) for over 10 years now.My uncle, aunt, and cousin own their own candy store; and another cousin owns an Insurance Adjusting company.

The entrepreneurial spirit is definitely around me and inspires me to work hard everyday!

We’re really proud that our journals inspire others to create. Whether it’s writing, drawing, or collecting photos and concert tickets, our products encourage creativity on a physical medium in an increasingly digital world. In addition, we source our materials from and employ small businesses as part of our manufacturing process.

Do you have a favorite quote? For Vintage Vinyl Journals, Truman Capote said it best: “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” – Truman Capote
This quote perfectly captures how we feel about both writing and music.

In my personal life it is “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ― Albert Einstein

What are the most pressing issues facing women today? Pay equality and domestic violence are pressing issues women still face today.

What are the biggest keys to your success? Focus is definitely a big one for me. I failed at another business in the past where I had one strong product but thought I needed dozens to get the business off of the ground. With Vintage Vinyl Journals I’ve focused on one product that I’ve been able to call “my baby.” I think focus is underrated and often times it is very hard for entrepreneurs to embrace.

What are the biggest keys to the advancement or success of women? Support of one another is key. Personally I belong to a couple of women groups locally which focus on women issues and supporting one another has helped many of us to succeed in business and also living a more meaningful and fulfilled life.

katie pietrak vintage vinyl journals philly folk fest in boothWhere did the inspiration for your business come from? I originally created the journals as a new way to re-purpose and reuse the duplicate vinyl albums (every good collector is always looking to upgrade individual pieces of their collection) I had been accumulating for years; but now customer requests have required that I scour used record stores and thrift shops for records outside of my eclectic tastes. By up-cycling old vinyl LPs, we are saving them from winding up in a landfill – much of what we use are records in poor condition which no collector would even give a second thought to and we are able to give them new life.

Where is your product sold (if applicable)? Online ( and in about two dozen retail stores throughout the US and Canada.

What advice do you have for a woman who is considering starting a business? One piece of advice is to be flexible with your target audience and your product uses. When I first starting making the journals I was really targeting writers and journalers. The business has since grown into different audiences and I’ve flexed my marketing and tweaked my product to also attract these other customers. Our journals are used for more than just writing and I market to people looking for unique Made in America as well as eco-friendly gifts. People use them for wedding guest sign-in books, scrapbooks, drawing, books to store concert ticket stubs and photos — stuff I never thought of.

I get bulk orders from retail stores and companies who give the journals as client gifts and employee gifts. Also, I have small independent labels who have us make journals out of their bands’ vinyl. I haven’t cracked the big time with a huge artist yet but I do love the indie bands so it’s pretty cool for us to be a part of their marketing efforts. I also would love to break into doing private label journals for other businesses, like Hard Rock Cafe or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to sell in their stores.

What are the biggest hurdles you’ve faced in starting or growing your business? How did you overcome these? The biggest hurdle was how to “get the business off the ground.” I was new to marketing and instinctively did what “felt right.” I started off doing a lot of social media marketing, giveaways, I sent journals to celebrities, entered contests when I saw them, asked companies to review my journals, and would blog weekly. I got a lot of exposure without having to spend anything more than my time. I’d say my first big exposure online was on (Zooey Daschanel’s site) where I was a featured Item of the Day. Zooey loved the journals and asked us to send along another one of her favorite artist for her to keep. We received a lot of traffic and sales from being the Item of the Day and still have fans that we interact with.

I always kept my eyes and ears open to see which outlets would be a good fit. I remember reading a story about Ty Pennington in Reader’s Digest and how he loved vinyl and Johnny Cash was his favorite. The next day I wrote to his publicist asking if I could send him a journal and she wrote back. I was so excited, I sent him a Johnny Cash journal and he wrote a blog post about me and my journals and took photos of his new Vintage Vinyl Journal in his home atop his coffee table.

Early on I sent an email to the editors of our local papers and told them about my company and they contacted me and did a feature interview of me and my business.
And with being new to the area, I joined a couple of networking groups. The in-person networking was less about sales but more about meeting people in area businesses where we complimented and supported each other. I’ve met some wonderful people through the networking. From the beginning I have donated my journals to local charities and fundraisers. I think it’s really important to be a part of the community, support other local small businesses and to give back.

Can you describe step by step the process for making a journal? It all starts with the records. We find old records that are too scratched up to go into any collections but are still in good enough shape to re-purpose. While we do take lots of requests, we mostly just find great albums that have interesting artwork. The vinyl is then laser cut and we crop the album covers.

The books are sewn together using a bookbinders process called Smyth sewing, the strongest method of bookbinding, making every journal sturdy and durable, allowing it to be used over and over for years. We use 11 signatures of 20 pages each making every book 220 pages.

We then put it all together by matching a colorful bookcloth and no-VOC acid-free adhesive.

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