‘My hardships became the best qualities in me’; Zion’s Tiny Homes creator says keep going through tough times

Composite image with the kitchen area of a tiny home built by Zion's Tiny Homes and L-R: Jared McGregor and Autumn McGregor smile for a self-taken photo in Salt Lake City, Utah, Circa June, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Autumn McGregor, St. George News

FEATURE The dust has settled on the 99.9 KONY Country’s “Huge Tiny Home Giveaway,” and Teena Cowan of Cedar City walked away May 5 with the keys to a brand new tiny home from Zion’s Tiny Homes.

Cowan works at Southern Utah Animal Hospital and is married to a police officer of over 45 years. She is the grandmother of 11 children and is getting set to retire.

Read more: Living tiny: Cedar City woman wins 99.9 KONY Country’s ‘Huge Tiny Home Giveaway’

At the start of the giveaway, Zion’s Tiny Homes and Zion’s Tiny Getaway owner Autumn McGregor said that she hoped the home would go to someone who could really use it.

Zion’s Tiny Home owner Autumn McGregor poses in the tiny home being given away in the 99.9 KONY Country “Huge Tiny Home Giveaway,” St. George, Utah, April 10, 2018 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“When I first decided to give a tiny home away, I said to myself, ‘We’re doing this for people in need, and I’m praying and hoping that someone gets it who really needs it,’” McGregor said in a previous St. George News report.

McGregor’s desire to help others in need stems from a lifetime of overcoming personal hardships and building success despite tremendous difficulties. It is her hope that she can use her business and her life experiences to uplift, inspire and encourage others to push through their trials and to help them find a safe place to rest while they are working toward a better life.

Living homeless

McGregor’s young adult life in California was characterized by homelessness and abuse – a cycle that is often difficult to break.

In her own words McGregor tells her story:

I grew up with my mother having six children. She was never married. I didn’t know my father. My mother was a single mom so it was really hard sometimes. In the rough times it got as bad as we were living in a tent next to my school. For about two years we lived in a tent. All my brothers and sisters who knew their fathers would go off to their fathers, so most of the time it was just me and my mom in a tent. When I was about 14, I decided I was going to try this on my own so I moved out of my mom’s tent.

McGregor moved in with a friend who had an older brother. He and McGregor began dating but McGregor said the brother turned out to be abusive and possesive of her.

I ended up being pregnant at the age of 16, and I had my child at the age of 17,” she said.

At one point, McGregor said the abuse and control was so bad that she was not allowed to leave the house and never had the opportunity to finish high school and receive her diploma.

Eventually McGregor was able to get away from the abusive relationship. And despite her setbacks – including life as a single mother to a son –  McGregor got a job, worked hard and was able to save enough money to rent her own apartment.

Not long after, fate knocked on McGregor’s door in the form of a Directv salesman from Utah. McGregor said he told her about how beautiful Utah was and introduced her to missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That salesman would later become her husband.

Living with purpose

The couple’s path to owning a successful business was neither straight nor easy but rather was marked by debt, the loss of a family member, job loss, flipping homes in Illinois and the birth of a daughter. It was also marked by hard work and taking risks.

L-R: Jared McGregor and Autumn McGregor smile for a self-taken photo in Salt Lake City, Utah, circa June, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Autumn McGregor, St. George News

Fed up with an unsatisfying job in northern Utah, the couple decided to sell their house, move to Southern Utah and go into business for themselves building tiny homes.

Their original plan, McGregor said, was to build a self-sustaining tiny home community where people could go in their time of need and be able to sustain themselves as they rebuilt their lives.

In the design, residents of the tiny home community would have been able to grow crops and use wind and solar power so that their utility costs and other costs would be low.

McGregor said if her mother would have had a place like that while she was going through tough times it would have made a world of difference.

“That would have changed our whole entire lives,” McGregor said, adding she would have had a home base to feel safe.

As it turned out, it was a lot more difficult to build an off-grid community than they had originally thought and they were unable to accomplish that goal, McGregor said. At least not yet.

Though building a self-sustaining community is still a goal of hers, McGregor said that in the meantime she is using her business to help others in any way she can.

Zion’s Tiny Homes allows owners to use their tiny homes as an extra source of income. The company will help owners rent their tiny homes to bring in extra cash flow when they need it, McGregor said.

The company also donates 5 percent of the profits from their Zion’s Tiny Getaway rentals to different charities in Southern Utah.

As a successful business owner now – Zion’s Tiny Homes has orders clear into October – McGregor said that she is able to see now how her hardships shaped her into the person she is today.

For those going through similar trials, she said to just keep going through it.

“There’s always going to be that light at the end of the tunnel even if you don’t see it now,” she said. “A lot of times my hardships became the best qualities in me.”

About Zion’s Tiny Homes

The inside of this tiny home built by Zion’s Tiny Homes features a loft bed, photo location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Autumn McGregor, St. George News

Zion’s Tiny Homes is a travel trailer manufacturer that specializes in tiny home recreational vehicles. They are dedicated to helping people live a larger life in a smaller space and go by the motto of “live free, live happy, live tiny.”

The homes are all custom built to the highest standards and have a cozy feel to them. Each of them is fully outfitted with a kitchen, bathroom, shower and a mini split system for cooling and heating. Zion’s Tiny Homes are continually adding amenities to make each home more comfortable.

“We can build anything,” McGregor said.

Zion’s Tiny Homes also offers a unique Zion’s Tiny Getaway for customers to experience a tiny home. Four tiny home units are available as a nightly rental for customers to enjoy the feeling of living large in a tiny home. To learn more about the Zion’s Tiny Getaway, click here.

For more information about Zion’s Tiny Homes, including photos and information on getting a quote, visit their website.

Written by HOLLIE REINA, St. George News

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • comments May 14, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    I like the whole ultra efficiency idea and also the off-grid idea. Your biggest obstacle to off grid around here is going to be A/C. Anyone who has tried will know. It would be possible to do solar panels and a battery bank big enough, but even a small a/c system is gonna really be difficult to accommodate without a very very expensive setup. Lead acid batteries are pretty crappy too, so if you’re running your a/c after sundown you’ll wear out the lifespan of those quickly too. Could do lithium ones $$$. Fun fun.

    • statusquo May 15, 2018 at 7:11 am

      Makes you wonder how the Indians and early pioneers lived through the summers in Southern UT.

      • comments May 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

        I have no idea. From what i’ve heard the pioneers learned to do their labors in the mornings and evenings.

        • RadRabbit May 15, 2018 at 5:02 pm

          I’ve seen some people in New Mexico overcome some of the heat by building into the hillsides. Not an easy thing to overcome though.

          • comments May 15, 2018 at 6:47 pm

            Well, I believe the native indians live in ground dwellings and mud huts. That probably helped. From what I hear the climate was a bit different back in those days. I have no idea how different.

    • jmasher May 24, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Yes you are right about the difficulty of overcoming the obstacles of AC a lot of times you do need an alternative power source but if you build your system appropriately it can handle AC there are even manufatures of DC air conditioning sytems. Solar is cheaper than ever before so it would pay for itself in a shorter time than it would even a few years ago.

  • Mike P May 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out how the winner of this tiny home giveaway was needy in any way (as reported in the pervious article) seeing how she had a good job, is married to a Police officer and are setting to retire but…o.k.

    I’ve been following this “tiny home” thing (We used to call them TRAILERS by the way”) for quite a while now and still havent figured out how and where the owners of these things LEGALY park and live in them for any realistic length of time. I have seen a couple parks set up for them but, well, their just Trailer Parks. Sometimes you see one in someones back yard for awhile but their usually evicted sooner or later for code and city violations. On the T.V. show about Tiny Homes, they rairly go into this subject and alot of future owners appear to see themselves as vagabons and think their going to hit the road and live free!! Problem here is, you can’t just tow these around with your little Honda. Ya gotta have a Truck, A LARGE truck and is come cases a COMMERCIAL truck with a licensed driver to haul your “Tiny Home” around. Once you get where ya want, you have to do all the set up. Leveling, Hook-Ups, Water, sewer, electrical, etc. It appears most of these Tiny Homes are actually just Tiny “Mobile Homes” because their permanent.
    Again, I realize these seem to be all the rage now but I still wonder where the heck all these things are going!

    P.S. I have a GREAT 160 sq. ft. travel trailer for sale at less than 1/4 the cost. It’s legal and can actually be towed!

    • comments May 15, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      These are all valid points and i agree. When it comes down to it it is kind of a silly fad. Most of them are too heavy to just be towed wherever, like a camper trailer. I also don’t believe the woman that won the giveaway one was needy at all. They’ve found a novelty fad market for these things and they’ll continue to build them so long as they can bring a profit. The things are not cheap either, so I hear.

    • RVer May 16, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      My family and I live full-time in a 44′ 5th Wheel. It’s a great experience, and it has also given us some exposure to the ideas of the “tiny home” enthusiasts and the realities that they face.

      Siting them is a major challenge. You can’t just buy a residential lot and park one on it. It would be nice if you could, and hopefully, communities will start to open up some areas for this. In the meantime, you need to find something zoned appropriately. For the most part, that’s an RV park.

      Especially in Southern Utah, most of the RV parks are “55+ parks”. That is a major limiting factor for younger people that want to do this.

      Most RV parks require that anything parked there have an “RVIA Seal”. RVIA is the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. If these don’t have that, they won’t find their way in.

      Many RV parks also specifically exclude “tiny homes”. Until that changes, there aren’t many options where you can just park, hook up, and live.

    • jmasher May 24, 2018 at 9:43 am

      Mike I am wondering why you are so negative about the tiny house movement is it because you are jealous of those who own one? It is not a trailer it is a home some are even built on foundations. Look at Portland Oregon and see how many people live in them full time its about simplicity. As far as legality Washington county has made it leagal to live in a tiny house do your research. Of course you cant tow it with a Honda and no you dont need a comercial truck if you are building one that isnt up to specs to tow yes you would need oversized load markers. There are many happy tiny home owners such as myself who has no problem with where to park it completely legal. This is not a classified dont post about your garbage rv you have for sale a tiny home is no comparison can you go to your local harware store and repair your roof if you needed to or what if you wanted to remodel could you do that with your …* RV. These tiny homes are leagal and regestered through the dmv. Your 1/4 of the cost RV will only last 1/4 as long as any tiny house would.

      * Ed. ellipsis added

  • asianspa May 15, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I am failing to understand why I needed to know every single detail about the owners personal life, upbringing, etc,… Am I a reader/ potential consumer or an armchair psychiatrist? A lot better information could have been put into this sponsored ad by sticking to the point and just talking about the product. You got comments with people asking good questions yet I know more about the owners emotional state than I know about the state of the construction and laws regarding placement of tiny homes. Am I supposed to relate soo deeply to them that I just wind up drawn to the tiny home lifestyle?? Yes I relate, let me fork down 50k to live like the unabomber!

    • comments May 15, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      The woman’s story was actually quite disturbing. I don’t know if she wants sympathy or quite what she’s aiming for? Will a life story like that help sell these mini houses/trailers?

    • jmasher May 24, 2018 at 9:58 am

      This was supposed to be an inspirational story that you turned into something completely wrong. You know nothing about the owners life and they were just trying to share and let people know there is no hole too dee that you cant climb out of. No matter what the circumstances are you can find success in life. I was homeless once and now I work in a very successful career. No one asked you to be a psychiatrist if you were one people would probably kill themselves after talking to your negativity. This was not about a product it was about a person if you want to know more about a product then pick up a phone look up the company. What comments are you referring to about good questions? I see nothing on here but bashing a pertthat has found success after a hard start of their life. Why dont you Look ot up if you did then you would know that they are a licensed manufacturing company. Want to know where to put the tiny home then pick up thr phone and ask them I am sure they could answer all your questions or refer you to the person who could based on your location. This isn’t about you feeling deeply for them and not a marketing story just supposed to be inspirational and for those that are in bad abusive situations to show that they can have a life putside of an abusive environment if they find help and escape. So the unibomber is related to her how and why would your relate that horrific person to this family you are a sick person yourself. Not all tiny homes cost 50k if you want all the bells and whistles it can cost a lot but if you compare it to a $100,000 rv that will depreciate rapidly over the years and fall apart rapidly I would gladly pay $50 k for something that will actually hold its value and be more like a home than an RV ever would.

  • Emily May 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

    I’m pretty disgusted by some of the comments on here…this was a beautiful article about a woman who went through more hard ship than what anyone should have to go through, and how she over came it and how it lead her to want to help people and build tiny homes for a living. It wasn’t about selling the tiny homes. It’s about rising above obstacles and hardship. It’s inspiring. What is wrong with you people? It’s dumb you guys can’t see the connection of her story to the tiny homes. She puts her heart and sole into them because of where she’s been and Because Of what it could do for people to help them. This was an incredible generous thing to do, to give away a tiny home. Because no their not cheap. But their a heck of a lot cheaper than being stuck with a mortgage for years and years. It allows for freedom and stability in a place that’s nothing like a trailer! Something that’s high end and comfortable. Not ghetto like a trailer. That’s safer and more secure. If you wanted more questions answered about the tiny homes themselves they gave you clear links to follow. It’s not asking you to pitty her or to relate to her so deeply that you buy a tiny home. It’s congratulating someone who did a really cool thing,and how that really cool thing is connected with her story, and to inspire others who are going through tough times. Sure their small ( that’s why their called tiny homes) but their not creepy like a unabombers shack. It’s embracing a culture of minimalism and freedom. But if you can’t understand a beautiful story like this it doesn’t surprise me you relate to a unabomber….(toward Asiaspa)
    They have hit walls of building a community because of people who want to take away freedom and because of the misunderstandings of what tiny homes are and what the movement is really all about. Places like Oregon Arkansas And Oklahoma and other places the idea has started to grow because of people like Autumn McGregor who fight for it and educate people. The movement is more that just about the construction of a tiny home and selling them. It’s about financial security and freedom and living comfortable at the same time. And giving a nice place to go for people in need. And because of people fighting for it I heard It just became legal in Washington county to have them.
    This tiny home giveaway if you were following it pretty closely… was open to everyone in the public. It didn’t exclude anyone. That’s why she said she HOPED it would go to someone in need. She didn’t rig the contest.
    Also have you ever been inside a tiny home? Their nothing like a trailer. Their built better. Their prettier. They use better technology and save a ton of money in the long run. The nice thing about tiny homes is you can build them to any specification and so if you build them the right way no you don’t need a huge powerful truck to tow them. You don’t need to level if their on wheels and you don’t need hookups for it unless you have it built like an Rv. A lot of them are off grid. That’s what off grid means….no hookups. It can be connected or not. Permanent or not. It’s all however the person wants it to be who built it according to their own needs. Different shapes different sizes. Tiny homes are amazing. Name a trailer that can be any of those things. You people talk like you’re so educated about this but you’re not. (Ps Mike p. Love how you try to use all this to sell your own trailer no one wants. Real classy). This is not a silly fad but rather hopefully a way to a better future for sooo many. Also with the A/C and other comforts if equipped With the right stuff the tiny homes can easily handle it. It’s $$$ upfront but pays for itself with how much you save in the long run. It’s a new idea, and that scares people. But try to educate yourselves more before you knock it down and think outside the box a little. We’ve been conditioned to think this way so we don’t take money out of big corporation monopoly and government pockets.

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