The Rising Tide Story
“HOW not IF”... that's the story of my life and this venture. It started as a broke college student working in the trades to put myself through school. In search of passive income to help my mother retire sooner, I stumbled into real estate. Through the website BiggerPockets.com, I connected with a local real estate investor who needed some extra help on one of his crews. With no car, I'd ride my bike or take the bus to the job site each day after my classes ended. Initially it was just demo, cleaning, whatever I could do to provide value. The below pic of me striking the sorority pose is from those early days.
I hustled, learned, and worked my way up. Within two years, I hustled my way from pushing a broom to a licensed GC with my own crew doing my own rehabs. By the time I graduated, I had several of my own properties and was well on my way to building a solid rental portfolio.
However, I had already begun to become disillusioned with the whole rental property thing. What I was able to charge for rent as a landlord was often significantly higher than what PITI (principal, interest, taxes, insurance) would cost if a tenant was able to qualify for a mortgage themselves. At the same time, I'd discovered a love for design and staging. So I transitioned from rentals into flips, flipping a peak of ten homes in 2020 alone.
In the process of staging these houses, I quickly fell down the rabbit hole of the home goods industry. I discovered what I'm sure many of you have: high prices, poor quality, and limited selection of furnishings. Initially I tried sourcing items from local vintage malls, but one to work with my hands, I eventually started making some of it myself too.
Around this time, an old 75,000sf school came up for sale in my town. Built in the early 1920's as an Intermediate School, the building was retired from its primary role of serving students and turned into the administrative offices for the School District of Beloit in 1980.
After several unsuccessful efforts by the school district to sell the building to developers, the building was auctioned off to the public in November of 2020. Inspired by my mother's career as a public educator, my desire to somehow help people in my community achieve home ownership, and my own experience renovating dozens of old properties; I purchased the building. I had no clue how, but I knew I wanted to turn it into some Community Center and trusted that I could figure it out as I went.
Such a venture would require several million dollars per year in funding, of which I did not have. Thinking "HOW not IF", I circled back to the home furnishings from staging houses. Surely others were frustrated by the same things I was, and if I could somehow think of a unique business model that solved some of these issues, I might just be able to fund the community center. I put on my thinking cap and did exactly that.
Almost two years later, here we are. Our Youth & Community Center (The Rising Tide Center) is scheduled to open this Winter, completely self-funded so it is accountable to no one but the local youth and community that it seeks to serve. Here at Rising Tide Design Co, we have an ever-growing team who work around the clock to keep up with all of your orders. It truly takes a team and monumental effort to pull off what we're trying to accomplish. That incredible team is split between Beloit, where this venture began and where you are welcome to pickup your furniture to see first-hand all the good that your purchase supports. And India, where we have our own 20,000ft facility in which our amazing team of craftsmen brings your furniture to life. To further our Rising Tide mission, we're also in the early stages of launching our own school in India for local disadvantaged youth in the town where our team works and our facility is located.
Due to the fact that we make and design all of our furniture ourselves, we currently only offer a handful of offerings. This is because each new item takes significant time to design, prototype, test, and perfect. This, combined with our small team, is also why we do not offer custom orders at this time. As time goes on, we hope to gradually expand our furnishings to a wider selection. We like to think we're only getting started. Both in our furniture, and the good we can do in this world.