In this episode of The Business Gay Podcast, host Calan Breckon speaks with entrepreneur Godfrey Riddle.
Godfrey is an artist, nonprofit executive, public speaker, and serial social entrepreneur who is driven to create inspiring communities where people can reach their full potential. As a visual servant leader, he has created and managed lines of business for nonprofit organizations that have generated over $19.4 million dollars since 2014 and with a lifetime profitability rate of 80 percent.
Godfrey founded Civic Saint in October 2020 as a protest brand offering affirming apparel and accessories to advance social justice through donations to advocate organizations. Today, it has pioneered a process to sustainably produce artful, affordable housing and adaptive communities for revitalization and wealth creation in redlined areas – for those who are unaware, redline is a term used for racial discrimination in housing.
In August of this year, Godfrey pitched Civic Saint in front of a live audience at the NGLCC leadership conference in Denver and ended up taking home the $30,000 dollar grand prize.
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Links mentioned in this episode:
Key Takeaways for quick navigation:
- [02:30] Entrepreneurship stems from curiosity, love for building, and a desire to unite passions and skills.
- [03:54] Civic Saint’s journey from apparel to sustainable housing was driven by personal passions, experiences, and a commitment to addressing the need for stable housing.
- [09:33] The compressed Earth block used in Civic Saint’s homes is sustainable, durable, and draws inspiration from ancient building techniques.
- [11:38] Civic Saint aims to offer affordable housing, with prices ranging from $30,000 to $65,000 for different models, addressing the issue of unaffordable housing in the market.
- [18:59] Entrepreneurial journey involves personal and professional challenges, requiring resilience, mentorship, and a commitment to a purpose-driven mission.
- [27:29] Mentorship involves finding someone who can actively help you achieve your dreams, whether as a sponsor, critic, or emotional support.
- [30:28] The $30,000 prize from the NGLCC Leadership Conference is being used to invest in training, equipment, and staff time for Civic Saint’s compressed Earth block production facility.
- [32:05] Civic Saint plans to launch its prototype in April 2024 during Kansas City’s design week, focusing on environmentally friendly design techniques for affordable housing.
- [35:42] The long-term vision for Civic Saint involves sustainable growth, providing lifetime employment, and empowering employees to balance work with personal pursuits.
- [40:36] Connect with Civic Saint on Facebook, Instagram (@CivicSaint), and their website civicsaint.com for updates, especially if interested in their upcoming housing solutions.
[00:00:00] Calan Breckon: Today’s episode is sponsored by SparkLoop. SparkLoop is the number one newsletter growth platform. I’m in the SparkLoop partner program and within the first week I saw my email list grow by over 12,000%. That’s insane. Their newsletter growth strategies and options are the most affordable rates I have ever seen on the market. I’m no longer paying between five and $10 per acquired email through online ads. Now I pay as little as $1 for warm emails that stay on my list and engaged for over 30 days. Everything is customizable in SparkLoop and they will set you up with a team member to help you through the process. Head on over to Calanbreckon.com/Sparkloop for more details or just click the link in the show notes. Now, let’s get into today’s episode.
Welcome to the Business Gay Podcast, where we talk about all things business, marketing, and entrepreneurship. I’m your host, Calan Breckon, and on today’s episode, I have entrepreneur Godfrey Riddle. Godfrey is an artist, non-profit executive, public speaker, and serial social entrepreneur who is driven to create inspiring communities where people can reach their full potential. As a visual servant leader, he has created and managed lines of business for non-profit organizations that have generated over $19.4 million since 2014. And with a lifetime profitability rate of 80%. Godfrey founded Civic Saint in October of 2020 as a protest brand, offering affirming apparel and accessories to advance social justice through donations to advocate organizations. Today, Civic Saint has pioneered a process to sustainably produce artful, affordable housing and adaptive communities for revitalization and wealth creation in redline areas. For those of you who are unaware of what redline means, it’s a term used for racial discrimination in housing. I saw Godfrey pitch Civic Saint live at the NGLCC Leadership Conference this past summer in Denver and was blown away by the work he’s doing, as well as his pitching skills. And so were the judges since he ended up walking home with the $30,000 grand prize. I am so excited to dive into the work Godfrey is doing and to find out more about what his entrepreneurial journey has been like. So, let’s dive in.
Welcome to the show, Godfrey. I’m so excited to have you. How are you doing?
[00:02:23] Godfrey Riddle: I’m well, thank you for having me.
[00:02:25] Calan Breckon: Yeah, well, once I saw you, I was like, I need to have him on the podcast. He’s amazing.
[00:02:34] Godfrey Riddle: You flatter me so, my friend. You flatter me.
[00:02:37] Calan Breckon: So awesome. Cool. Well, let’s just jump in. Dive in. Let’s start with why did you become an entrepreneur?
[00:02:46] Godfrey Riddle: Lack of other options?
No, truly, I’ve always just been a jack of all trades and really curious about the world around me in a generalist. So entrepreneurship is a space that’s kind of allowed me to unite all of my passions or interests and skill sets and also put me in a place where I’m constantly learning. So I just love building, I love discovery and those, in my view, are two elements that are essential to be a good entrepreneur or entrepreneur in general.
[00:03:24] Calan Breckon: Yeah, definitely. Curiosity is one of the biggest reasons to be an entrepreneur. It’s like the curiosity of, like, well, can I do that? Should I do that? And then also just being a bad employee because I was a bad employee.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs are just like, not that we’re bad employees. We’re actually very good employees, but we’re bad in the sense that it’s like, OOH, that’s not efficient, or, oh, I wouldn’t do it that way, or, oh, why do I have to do this? It makes absolutely no sense. And we’re constantly questioning things.
[00:03:51] Godfrey Riddle: Agreed. Greed.
[00:03:54] Calan Breckon: Yeah.
So, Civic Saint, speaking of your new businesses, civic Saint started off as an apparel and accessory business. How did it get all the way from over there to then becoming a building sustainable and affordable housing?
What? Walk me through that journey.
[00:04:15] Godfrey Riddle: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of a jump. Technically speaking, your home is where you keep your clothes, so I think the alignment is pretty clear.
Thank you. I worked on that one for weeks.
But more genuinely, I mean, for me, I had a mentor who told me that entrepreneurship is hard, so you should probably pick things that you know about or that are drawn from your lived experience more directly. So what are your passions? What fires you up as an injustice or excites you as a moment of exuberance and joy? What gives you curiosity? You know, those probing questions. And for me, I’ve always had a passion for the arts in general, creativity and public service. Those are all interests that I inherited from my parents and my grandparents because they were all public servants, clergy members, and active in the community. And my grandmother, or my grandmother, she’d be so mad. My mother.
I know, Missy. Rest in peace, Mama. But yes. So she loved to dress, and I picked that up from her because as a kid, I was always in her closet, putting on her clothes, dressing her, just and they were very supportive of it. I had Barbies and played dress up with them and all that. So that really seeded the passion for fashion. And my Aunt Beverly was also in the industry. But long story short, I ended up going to school for architecture because I also love the built environment. Growing up, I always loved building Lego homes. When the Sims came out, my friends would actually ask me to build their homes.
And it’s just something we did as a family for leisure time, is drive around looking at homes.
And we also lost our home twice growing up. So all of those things really bounced around in me for a lifetime. The curiosity of understanding why housing is such a precarious thing, understanding the role of housing in a community and a family’s life, and all of the positive social determinants just having stable housing period, provide.
So to me, it just seems like that should be a top priority in our society.
So ultimately, I got a degree in architectural studies, went and worked at the City of Phoenix, discovered this thing called City Management. Came back to Ku because they have the number one program for that area and that area of interest of city and county management. And then, lo and behold, it all just came together to help me see that there is a need for stable housing. There’s a lot of obviously talk about affordable and accessible housing, but I feel like we’re not doing a lot to actually try to solve the problem.
I feel like I’m tired of that. So that’s really what led me to have this curiosity about housing.
Another bit of advice that I got once is like, being an entrepreneur is about being a filter. So I also really enjoy reading a lot, listening to podcasts a lot, a lot, and YouTube, just following people who interest me. So I happened upon a YouTuber who followed the prefab housing movement, and I also found another one who did tiny Homes. And then I stumbled upon, through a Netflix series, I was watching this thing called Compressed Earth and Block. So I started to know, why isn’t it possible to put all of these things together to offer a housing solution that’s both environmentally friendly, but at the same time satiates that demand for beautiful, affordable, infill housing?
[00:08:38] Calan Breckon: Wow, that’s a lot. Oh, my goodness.
[00:08:41] Godfrey Riddle: I know.
[00:08:43] Calan Breckon: Right? Where do I dive in?
[00:08:45] Godfrey Riddle: Okay, I know, and I’ve got a brick right here, too, so I should pull it up for display. Oh, God. It’s very heavy.
[00:08:53] Calan Breckon: That does look like a giant Lego.
[00:08:56] Godfrey Riddle: Right? Literally.
Yeah. So what’s cool is because it’s like a giant Lego, these little bumps that you see, you basically just offset to do what’s called a chasing brick pattern. So you and I could start constructing a wall now because you have the information you need, and then we just basically use an earth and glue to stick it together. And the cool thing is that because it has these channels in it, that’s where you can run Conduit, you can run HVAC, you can put rebar in to reinforce it, but it’s just a really quick way to erect a building. And this is made of 90% dirt. So very sustainable.
[00:09:37] Calan Breckon: Okay, so sustainability in regards to, like, Earth, Mother Nature, amazing. What about sustainability in regards to durability and how long the lifespan or anticipated lifespan for a house like this built like this would be?
[00:09:52] Godfrey Riddle: Yeah. So I love this question.
So this is what’s called a structurally sound brick, meaning that when it gets wet, it doesn’t melt away like a normal mud brick we’d make in the backyard. So the other fun fact is that this building material is actually what humans have used to build since 8700 BCE. So the great pyramids of Giza, the Mayan and Aztecan pyramids Mykonos, if you’ve ever been there, those are all earthen structures, and they tend to last for hundreds, if not thousands of years. So that was the other concern for me growing up in the black community, learning what I’ve learned about urban planning and city management. I just noticed the trend that in red line or marginalized communities, they tend to experiment and also not truly invest in longevity in a way like structural longevity, so using materials that can last forever.
And the other great thing is that since this is a material that can last for hundreds of years, requires little to no maintenance, and is also because it’s so thick and bricks hold on to their ambient temperature, the maintenance cost is low because there’s no heating and cooling. Really?
Yeah. It’s just all around. I can’t understand why it’s not a more widely available building material.
What questions do you have?
[00:11:36] Calan Breckon: How many of these homes have you built? I went to your website and I saw one, and it was very beautiful. And I love how you marry the artwork on the outside with thank you. What you’re building, which is just magical and amazing, which is why I loved it so much. But the exterior was beautiful with the artwork. How many of these homes have you already built and how many are you planning to build moving forward?
[00:11:58] Godfrey Riddle: So this is a really exciting time for the company because we’re in startup phase. So I have my first site in my hometown, Kansas City, Missouri. We have a historical area of town called 18th and Vine Jazz district. If you know of Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington or Billy Holiday. They all played there. Charlie Parker is actually from Kansas City, so it has a UNESCO World Heritage designation for jazz, and it’s the only city in the world that holds that designation.
So I’m planning to build my first prototype there on a site called the Biden Street Castle. And then around the corner, I’m currently in negotiations to secure some parcels of land to stand up my first stone homes. So I’ve got three product offerings. I’m starting with two because you eat an elephant one bite at a time, I suppose.
And I’m trying to know, how would Tesla do this? The item with the least variability goes first.
So to that end, I’ve got my Geocabin. That will be the prototype. I’m standing up on the Vine Street Castle, and those are 200 to 300 sqft. Really intended to be an adu or accessory dwelling unit.
You could do it for short term stays. You could live in it. It’s really a tiny home for most. I think they probably end up being more comfortable with my mid size product, which is the stone home that’s pictured on Civicsaint.com. And that one’s, 600 to 750 will be around the corner on that site. I mentioned we’re negotiating right now.
[00:13:46] Calan Breckon: Okay, awesome. I’m really curious. The stone homes. So the bricks are the outside. What about the flooring and interior stuff?
[00:13:57] Godfrey Riddle: Yeah, so the interior would look like a normal finished wall. Kind of like what’s behind you, except it’d be stucco. You can leave them there. Kind of like you might see in America and where I’m from, everyone has a basement because we live in tornado alley.
Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is from my home.
You know, if you go down into the basements here, you’ll typically see the cement block and it may be painted or it’s just bare. So you could leave it bare if you want a rougher look, but ultimately it would look like a standard finished stucco wall.
[00:14:39] Calan Breckon: Okay, but what about the flooring? Is that also going to be made out of the bricks or is that going to be wood flooring or how does that work?
[00:14:46] Godfrey Riddle: Oh my God. Yeah, I totally missed the thought. Yes, all of the above. So I really like natural elements. So I really want to do like I’d love to do some sort of like birchwood flooring that looks like it’s been maybe lightly kissed by stain.
I’ve also, I’m really interested in cork flooring because it’s extremely sustainable.
So, yeah, that’s an option.
My dream, my plan is to similar to Tesla, when you order your home, order your car, you’ll have different options. So if you want a natural CEV for great, your dishes are going to break anytime they hit it. But that’s all you.
[00:15:33] Calan Breckon: Yeah, don’t get those breakable dishes then.
[00:15:37] Godfrey Riddle: I know, right.
But truly, it would give you the ability to pick a package option based on your comfort, your aesthetic. So ultimately I would love to I’m piecing those options together right now.
[00:15:52] Calan Breckon: Amazing.
So walk us through the price range from your starter model, smaller model, all the way to the bigger one that you have planned. What’s that price range look like? Because I know that affordability is definitely one of the biggest things that you’re looking at.
[00:16:07] Godfrey Riddle: Yeah, I mean, to that point I had the opportunity to sit down with the Urban Land Institute.
I don’t know if you have something comparable in Canada, but they’re basically like a nonprofit planning partner for the community and they’re just interested in land very, very dry to most completely fascinating to me.
But I sat down with their CEO of the Kansas City affiliate, Catherine Carter, and she mentioned in that conversation that new builds in our community right now for 1000 square foot home are hovering around $250,000 for a stick built home SEO. That’s high obviously for a very small space.
Right now my goal is to deliver for sub $100,000 for the two products I’d mentioned, the Geocabin and the stone home. So the Geocabin I’m working to deliver for anywhere between about 30 to maybe maximum $40,000. Ultimately my goal would be to drive it down even further to maybe get to a price range of 15 to 25,000. But that’s a price ceiling I probably can’t achieve until I have obviously more volume, because economies of scale and then the Stone Homes are going to be $50 to $65,000, depending on the options. If you want to upgrade, I may offer premium upgrades. Again, we’re still exploring all of those options, but I just priced out my prototype and I know for a fact I can achieve the 50 to 65,000 for the Stone Home, which is really exciting to me, because if you think about that, you could buy this house for 65K. Worst case scenario. And in my situation, I have a backyard, so I could prop it back there and either live in it, rent it, make it an artist studio, it just becomes another site on my property that gives me options financially as a landowner to build my own wealth, to grow my own business, or whatever else comes to mind.
[00:18:25] Calan Breckon: That’s really amazing.
For me, living in Toronto, the place that I’m in here is like $800,000 for a two bedroom, very small, 700 square foot apartment. And that, to me, is just insane with the unaffordability of most people and mortgages and all the things. I don’t own this place. I am very much renting.
[00:18:47] Godfrey Riddle: Just FYI, you can donate ask.
[00:18:54] Calan Breckon: The link is in the show notes.
But for me, just like, affordability is so important, and we’ve commodified housing to a degree where it just really bugs me and pisses me off. So I’m really excited that there’s people like you out there being like, look, we need to fix this. And we can’t wait for other people to do it or for legislation to change and these other things. We need to figure out ways to fix these problems now. And it’s really exciting because what you said back at the beginning, just stability is so important. I grew up in a very unstable household. My mom had to move out, had no job, no money, and it was like she bounced around a lot. And having that instability as a child really kind of drives that into you as an adult. And all I crave now is stability. And it’s still so hard in our generation, the below 40s, it’s getting harder and harder for us to find that stability for ourselves unless we decide to live at home. And our parents aren’t going to love that. And this is the first generation where a 30 year old man is actually or 30 year old person is actually less well off than their parents generation was. And things are going backwards. And so it’s really reassuring to have somebody like you out there who’s building these things and doing this for the future because I could definitely see many people going after these options once you are at mass and at scale.
[00:20:19] Godfrey Riddle: Thank you. And that’s the dream, because to your point, I want to give people the capacity to live their dreams honestly, like full stop. Our brand promise. Our mission is to make housing attainable so you can live your dreams, because that’s what my house has done for me. I never thought I would be able to own a home after my family lost our second home when I was twelve, or excuse me, when I was 18. Rather. The first one was twelve, the second one was 18. I was actually in Russia, came home and the house was like, Where’s my family?
But yeah. So for me now, having a home, it’s literally allowed me to shelter my friends and my family, to invest in my parents when they were alive. And now it’s allowed me to start a business and even become a place where I found love. And I’ve started that relationship and just knowing how much of a boon it’s been for me, I can’t even begin to imagine how others could leverage this asset if it’s done in a way that’s more scalable and just attainable.
[00:21:34] Calan Breckon: Oh, magical. Okay. What’s been a pain point for you when it came to growing as a business owner and an entrepreneur? Because I can imagine this journey has not been easy.
[00:21:47] Godfrey Riddle: No.
Both personally and professionally. But if you want to build muscle, you must endure some pain.
Yeah. So I would say the personal hurdles have obviously been losing my parents a lot earlier than I would have liked because my dad passed away when I was 29 and my mom when I was 31. And it’s just been hard to navigate some of these choices and opportunities or challenges without having that advice and having that life. Term partner, essentially someone who has seen you from birth to this moment and knows you deeply, in some ways better than you may know yourself, to be able to just be that outside reflection point.
So rebuilding that has been a little bit of a challenge, finding that mentorship to fill the gaps because I’m never going to be able to replace or even create that level of advice.
So that’s been hard.
And then how it shows up in the business.
Gosh, I would say having the confidence to take the leap is always hard because when you’re staring at I’m someone who goes by the numbers and when you’re staring at the spreadsheet and maybe seeing the risk that moving into housing has financially, it’s terrifying.
But at the same time, it’s just reminding myself that if I go down, I go down trying to make housing more attainable. So for me, it’s worth it. And I think the blessing and all that I’ve been through because I also am a cancer survivor. During the time I was losing my parents, it’s shown me that as long as I have my life and my loved ones, that’s all I need.
And even if my loved ones aren’t with me physically, they’re still with me spiritually, emotionally, in my memory through things my parents told me that I didn’t want to hear because I was young and hard headed, that I’m like, oh, that is some good advice.
But yeah. Does that answer the question?
[00:24:26] Calan Breckon: I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs. I feel like there’s two entrepreneurs. There’s ones who just want to make a lot of money, but I think that that also just stems from craving stability in their life. And then there’s the ones that are so purpose driven that they have to be an entrepreneur because they have to change some sort of injustice or something they see in the world that they want to make it a better place for other people. And I think the majority of entrepreneurs do genuinely fall into that camp of being like, I see something. I need to fix it. I have to, because nobody else is, or I’m not seeing anybody else doing it. And even if I go down, I’m going down knowing that at least I tried.
[00:25:07] Godfrey Riddle: Yes.
And the magic in that is when it works.
[00:25:16] Calan Breckon: Right?
So I noticed you mentioned Mentorship. How big of a role has Mentorship played for you on your journey?
[00:25:26] Godfrey Riddle: It’s been big, and for me, it’s been a retroactive realization, I would say, because I haven’t had a walk by my side, Mentor, outside of my parents, I’ll say that edit this out.
[00:25:47] Calan Breckon: There ain’t no editing on this show, girl.
[00:25:51] Godfrey Riddle: I got caught up in my word soup.
[00:25:54] Calan Breckon: It’s all good. No, I don’t ever edit my shows because I find people love the authenticity of it. They love the mess. That’s what like, why do you think people love reality TV? They love mess for that true.
[00:26:07] Godfrey Riddle: That especially when it’s mess you don’t have to deal with directly.
[00:26:12] Calan Breckon: You’re like, I see you over there. I’m clocking that. But I’m staying over here eating my popcorn.
[00:26:19] Godfrey Riddle: There is literally a meme of a llama that’s like chewing its cud, and it reads close enough to hear the tea, and that’s me.
[00:26:30] Calan Breckon: Amazing.
Okay, so Mentorship mentorship has played a big role.
[00:26:34] Godfrey Riddle: Yes, it has. Truly. Because for me, I’ve taken kind of like the board assemblage approach. So there’s someone that I see who does something really cool, and I feel like there might be kismet or connection because of how they approach their business or what they’re actively doing just interests me. So I’m like, hey, can I sit down and just pick your brain and have a conversation like this?
So I did that a lot in my early career when I was an AmeriCorps Vista member. I was at the city of Phoenix, Arizona, and I was fortunate to have a really supportive supervisor who told me that very thing. You’re here know, A, get your job done, but you’re also here to learn. So if there’s something that sparks your curiosity, go and seek it out. I am here to support you. I am here to make those introductions and my God, she delivered.
So I would say even if you I share that story because I often think people think mentorship means finding that singular person who can follow you through the arc of your career or whatever journey you’re on. And that’s not necessarily the case. I think mentorship is about finding the person who’s best able to help you achieve your dreams, who can work as a sponsor so actively getting you those opportunities or opening the door for you or promoting you up into that space.
They can be a critic to help you see yourself from a different perspective, to learn and grow. And they can also just be emotional comfort, like, yo, I am going through this really hard thing. Can you relate? Thank God you can. I’m not crazy. So that’s kind of how I pieced together what I would call the full body of a mentor. But if I were to add it up, the tally right now for people I go to for those things is probably around a dozen.
And within that, I don’t want people to think that that means that you’re sitting down with them regularly, like every week. That’s not necessarily true. It’s more so a, hey, I noticed you’re really good at this thing. Let’s have our initial intro talk. Could I stay in touch with you if I have more questions?
Answer is usually yes, fortunately. So that’s how I’ve approached it.
[00:29:01] Calan Breckon: Awesome. I love that. And that’s so true.
I’m very much the same on my journey. I’ve kind of had mentors along the way just because I picked people’s brains and I’ve watched a lot and I’d like to watch and observe because I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I want to improve upon the wheel. So I’m like, well, who’s fucked up?
Who’s fucked up enough that I can watch and be like, okay, well, I’m not going to do that. But I do have one mentor who I actually just caught up with yesterday, and we do like the once a month kind of a thing. And it is so grounding to also have that person who is like a consistent, I know what I’m going to get when we come together, we’re talking about business, but also personal lives and stuff like that because it does intermingle, it does mesh together. But being able to find that and have that in your life is so important, and I think anybody listening. If you don’t have a mentor and you want a mentor, it’s not about finding just a program or something. There are tons of them out there. I know NGLCC has them, CGLCC has them, lots of programs out there have them. But just finding people in your world that are in a place you want to be at and asking if they’ll go for a coffee or talk to you about it, and then you can lead into making it if you want it to be professional and consistent, being like, hey, can we do this once a month? And can this be a professional mentorship or just picking people’s brains and be like, hey, I want to know what you’re doing?
[00:30:26] Godfrey Riddle: Yes. Tell me more.
[00:30:29] Calan Breckon: Right?
So you ended up winning $30,000 leadership conference in Denver, which is where I saw you, which was amazing. You absolutely blew me out of the water on the stage. How are you going to be using that prize money to further your goals with Civic Zane?
[00:30:50] Godfrey Riddle: Yeah, so that money is really important because it’s the first seed of an investment. So I’ve already used that money to book a training course so I can actually learn how to run a CEB. Excuse me? Compressed earth and block. That’s what that stands for. A CEB Production Facility. So my business and life partner, Chris and I are going down to that training in November.
And then I’m also about to order I actually have the invoice in my inbox order our production equipment today. So that was the other yeah.
I’m so excited.
So truly, that is groundbreaking pun, fully intended.
I love my dad jokes, but I’m like as an aside, that’s in the handbook. Working at Civic Saint, you got to come with your best corny jokes.
I love that. I love it here for the puns, but truly. So to that point, we’re ordering our production equipment that will allow us to build that prototype I mentioned starting as soon as it arrives, roughly in three months. So that would be roughly January, February, if I’m doing the math right, at the latest. So we’ll build and then in April, we’re going to have our public launch, or Prototype Party is what I’m calling it, in the office right now. But essentially it’s going to be the last week of April during Kansas City’s Design Week, which brings together folks from our design, architecture and creative industries. And my other business partner for this actual prototype site, Pat Jordan, she was excellent and secured the actual site itself. So we’re going to stand up one of Civic Saints geocabins there, and use it as a show home to really talk with these folks about how they can use environmentally friendly design techniques to create affordable housing. How they can use the principles of neuroaesthetics to create more enriching spaces so that when you are working in marginalized communities, you’re not just putting in hideous stuff. You’re putting in stuff that actually inspires people and can create a sense of community and produce better mental and physical health and community outcomes.
So none of that would be possible without the NGLCC Pitch Award because it’s paid for, again, the literal class, it’s paid for the equipment, and then it’s paid for our design and staff time to build toward that manifestation.
[00:33:50] Calan Breckon: Good. I’m so glad. I’m so glad.
[00:33:52] Godfrey Riddle: I know, right?
[00:33:56] Calan Breckon: What’s coming next in 2024 for Civic Saint?
[00:34:00] Godfrey Riddle: Well, I mean, first and foremost. That prototype I mentioned. So, again, that’s during Casey Design Week, which is in April of 2024, so please look it up. I believe they’re going to be announcing those dates anytime in the coming weeks publicly. So you’ve got a little bit of an insider scoop here.
So that’s going to be big for us because it will allow us to have a physical product to get even more market feedback.
And then from that, we’re going to be introducing our very first product. So my goal is to launch the prototype in April, let that stand, give tours, do brick building demonstrations to help people build familiarity and understanding with the material, and then gather market feedback. And then towards the end of the summer, that’s when I’ll open up public orders.
My target date is September 1, and that will be for a limited run of our geocabin so that folks can have them in their backyards or wherever. And then from that, I’ll probably take a pause, see where we’re at in the winter, do some tweaks, and then in 25 go even bigger. But I’m trying to one thing that I heard from a really great podcast called How I Built this that I follow. There was an entrepreneur there that talked about having a lifetime business. And while I do want to grow very quickly because the issues we’re trying to solve for need to be solved yesterday, I also want to make sure that I’m growing in a way that’s sustainable so that I can provide, ideally, lifetime employment for my employees and for myself and my family. I want to be a business where I empower my employees to have some form of stability with their civic st income, and maybe I’m 20 to 30 hours of their work week. And then ideally, because I’m employing artists and people involved in the community, they’re spending that other time that would be devoted toward a 40 hours work week doing what brings them joy, working on their artistic practice, volunteering, spending time with their family, or just taking a goddamn nap.
That’s what I would be doing.
[00:36:23] Calan Breckon: Yes, I love that. That really strikes a chord with me because I’ve had similar thoughts. I’m just at the precipice of starting to create my own agency for search engine optimization, for SEO and kind of building that out. And my whole thoughts about doing that is doing it sustainably, getting people who know certified from the bodies that maybe were certified, the CGLCC, NGLCC, diverse peoples, the IWSCC, which is veterans and people living with disabilities and really being very conscious about the people that I’m hiring and then also making sure that I’m paying them a really good livable salary. And I’m not saying like, livable as in, like, this is the standard livable, as in like, $80-$90,000 a year, which is well above others, so that they can actually afford to have their own one bedroom condo or their two bedroom condo and to not live with a weight of debt. And then also have educational classes once a month about finances, making sure I’m setting them up with people so that we’re setting them up for the future. And I think that a lot of conscious business people is the way that the future is going, especially our generations. We’re like, we’ve got fucked from a lot of shit that happened.
Amen. And there was no lube. And we are now looking for.
[00:37:47] Godfrey Riddle: A.
[00:37:48] Calan Breckon: Way that all of us can move forward together. And it’s the only way that I can see the world really coming together and surviving as a humanity is by us being like, look, we have to change. And I’m so glad that you’re implementing those kinds of things in your business as well, for the long term future of Civic Saint.
[00:38:05] Godfrey Riddle: Thank you. Yeah, true to the name, I really want people to see that there are different options in how you choose to do business.
I remember when I was really little, I heard that quote by The Economist and now I’m going to forget his name. Milton Freeman, perhaps?
Yes. Fact check me. But essentially the quote was that the job of business is to make money for its shareholders, period. And I’m like, I was nine when I heard that. That didn’t make sense then. And you got a 65 year old economics professor saying that who paid him off.
So it’s never made sense to me, unless you take the viewpoint that shareholders and I think this I hope this was the myth that shareholders are the employees, the community and the leaders that make up that business and the customers, obviously too. In that sense, then, yeah, I could accept making money for the shareholders being the top goal. But as it’s been practically implemented, it’s really meant that companies have lost their attachment to community. They don’t invest in their employees.
We’re seeing it to your point. We’re living these negative outcomes and are all starving for something new. So while I can’t solve every problem, I do want to show people that you can make small choices in your business that can have a big impact, even if you can only do one thing, like pay your people living wage. That’s really darn huge.
[00:39:45] Calan Breckon: Definitely. I just have to point out this whole interview. If you’re watching this on YouTube, the Kansas sign behind you, because it’s a circle, has literally made you look like a saint the whole time.
And I’m just like, how perfect is this?
You’re going to go back and watch now and be like, oh, yeah. Literally the whole time you’re talking, it’s just been this perfect halo around your head. And I’m like, you know what? It is what it is.
[00:40:14] Godfrey Riddle: And I got this angelic glow coming in.
[00:40:18] Calan Breckon: Exactly.
This has been an absolute delight and pleasure. I’m so glad that you agreed to come on the podcast. Thank you so much. Where can people find out more about you and the work you’re doing with Civic Saint?
[00:40:32] Godfrey Riddle: Well, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. This has been an amazing conversation and you’ve got me wanting to move to Toronto now because everyone’s so nice.
But yes, I would love to stay connected with everyone. So we’re on Facebook and Instagram @Civicsaint and then you can also find us online civicsaint.com and if you’re interested in staying updated about when the houses launch, please scroll down and actually opt into the notifications to be the first to hear about that. And then I will say another little tidbit is that I may genuinely be coming to Toronto soon. So we’ll have to stay connected because there are some bubbling opportunities there to participate in your houselessness and homelessness crisis to hopefully provide Civic Saint as a solution. But we’ll see how that goes. That’s a little outfit. Amazing.
[00:41:32] Calan Breckon: Well, we’ll stay in touch and you’ll have to let me know. Thank you so much for being on the show, Godfrey. I hope you have a magical day and peace. Love rainbows to you.
[00:41:43] Godfrey Riddle: Likewise. Thank you so much.
[00:41:45] Speaker A: Wow, what an absolute magical episode with Godfrey. He is just I mean, it’s all in the name. Civic Saint like, he is here doing the good work, helping out, making sure that this housing crisis has solutions coming down the pipeline. And I’m so excited to see what Civic Saint and he does in the future.
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The Business Gay podcast is written, produced and edited by me, Calan Brecken. If you’re looking for a free website audit, you can head on over to CalanBreckon.com/Audit and I’ll set you up with a free website audit where I will give you a rundown of your website and I’ll share with you how you can improve your SEO today. Thanks so much.
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Peace. Love. Rainbows.