Seeking Center: The Podcast

The New Type of Home: Good for You + Mother Earth - Episode 63

May 15, 2023 Robyn Miller Brecker, Karen Loenser, Rory Rubin Season 2 Episode 63
The New Type of Home: Good for You + Mother Earth - Episode 63
Seeking Center: The Podcast
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Seeking Center: The Podcast
The New Type of Home: Good for You + Mother Earth - Episode 63
May 15, 2023 Season 2 Episode 63
Robyn Miller Brecker, Karen Loenser, Rory Rubin

Here are a few truths that we know for sure. We all live on this planet together. We are all part of Mother Earth. Even though we're spiritual beings, we chose to have this human experience right on this planet. And so how we take care of this larger home that we call Earth matters if we care about ourselves and each other.

We've all heard the term sustainable living, and many of us are doing what we can to take better care of the earth and therefore humanity. However, what does that term really mean and what more can we be doing?

We're thrilled to welcome our friend Rory Rubin, Co-Founder and CEO of S.I. Container Builds, a company that builds functional and cost friendly living and working spaces in recycled shipping containers. Yes, we said shipping containers. We're going to discuss how that even works, as well as the why.

It's a tremendously attractive alternative to consider in your future. Plus, Rory is giving us all ways we can show more love to Mother Earth and ourselves. There is so much to discuss.

You can find out more about working with Rory, and container homes + working spaces at You can also check them out on Instagram @SIContainerBuilds

Visit for more from Robyn + Karen, plus mega inspo -- and the best wellness + spiritual practitioners, products and experiences on the planet!

You can also follow Seeking Center on Instagram @theseekingcenter

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Here are a few truths that we know for sure. We all live on this planet together. We are all part of Mother Earth. Even though we're spiritual beings, we chose to have this human experience right on this planet. And so how we take care of this larger home that we call Earth matters if we care about ourselves and each other.

We've all heard the term sustainable living, and many of us are doing what we can to take better care of the earth and therefore humanity. However, what does that term really mean and what more can we be doing?

We're thrilled to welcome our friend Rory Rubin, Co-Founder and CEO of S.I. Container Builds, a company that builds functional and cost friendly living and working spaces in recycled shipping containers. Yes, we said shipping containers. We're going to discuss how that even works, as well as the why.

It's a tremendously attractive alternative to consider in your future. Plus, Rory is giving us all ways we can show more love to Mother Earth and ourselves. There is so much to discuss.

You can find out more about working with Rory, and container homes + working spaces at You can also check them out on Instagram @SIContainerBuilds

Visit for more from Robyn + Karen, plus mega inspo -- and the best wellness + spiritual practitioners, products and experiences on the planet!

You can also follow Seeking Center on Instagram @theseekingcenter

robyn: [00:00:00] I'm Robyn Miller Brecker, 

karen: and I'm Karen Loenser. Welcome to seeking center. The podcast,

robyn: join us each week as we have the conversations and weed through the spiritual and holistic clutter for you, we'll boil it down to what you need to know. Now 

karen: we're all about total wellness, which to us needs building a healthy life on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.

We'll talk to the trailblazers who will introduce you to the practices, products, and experiences. That may be just what you need to hear about to transform your life. 

If you're listening to this, it's no accident. Think of this as your seeking center and your place to seek your center. And for even more mega inspo sign up for seeking center.

The newsletter at seeking center 

robyn: Here's one thing we know for sure. We all live on this planet together. We are all part of Mother Earth. Even though we're spiritual beings, we chose to have this human experience right on this planet. And so how we take care of this larger home that we call earth matters if we care [00:01:00] about ourselves and each other.

We've all heard the term sustainable living, and many of us are doing what we can to take better care of the earth and therefore humanity. However, what does that term really mean and what more can we be doing? We're thrilled to welcome our friend Rory Rubin, co-founder and CEO of SI Container Builds, a company that builds functional and cost friendly living and working spaces in recycled shipping containers. Yes, I said shipping containers. We're going to discuss how that even works, as well as the why.

It's a tremendously attractive alternative to consider in your future. Plus, Rory is giving us all ways we can show more love to Mother Earth and ourselves. There is so much to discuss. 

rory: Hi, Rory. Hi, both of you. Thanks for having me. 

karen: Oh, we're so glad you're here. 

robyn: So we're gonna start with how do you 

rory: define home, Rory?

 a lot in my lifetime. And so the definition of home to me is more about. Feeling and smelling and that [00:02:00] emotional piece versus the place that covers your head.

And I think everyone can relate to walking into a room or a comfortable chair or couch or laughter and the smells of someone cooking and. The definition of home truly was that safe place to be. And as a parent now, , my goal was really to make sure that it was a safe place for her to land wherever we wound up.

So that's how I feel about home in general. I love that. 

karen: It's true. Since moving to a brand new place, your home takes on a different meaning, especially when you don't know people maybe in your neighborhood. Now, especially for a lot of us who are working from home. So it's really become our working place, our sleeping place, our.

Our family place. Talk about how this idea of sustainable living fits into the home, and why that is so important 

rory: now more than ever. I think over the last probably 10, 15 years, the word sustainable has become that buzzword that people use. And I think it means something different to everybody, but the premise of the word means to [00:03:00] coexist.

And there are actually three buckets around that. And that's from Environmental piece, which we, a lot of people will probably gravitate to the economic piece, to the social piece. And I fell into the sustainability piece because I was looking for a way to support one of the core pieces to what my husband and I do, which is.

Camping you always have to build your shelter first. And so I wanted to figure out a way that made a lot more sense to more people. And it turned out that the way I was envisioning actually was a very sustainable way. And so that's how those two pieces came together to coexist was a real direct need the safety into the sustainability piece for me.

robyn: And then how did you dig into that sustainability piece? Did you always have an interest in it and did you have to do research? 

rory: what ended up happening? Yeah, so when I decided that I wanted to do the housing piece and tie it into sustainability, I really had to think about what that meant.

And our core [00:04:00] structure, like you mentioned, is the shipping container. And there are 23 million shipping containers sitting around rusting oh my God, 

robyn: Hold on. 3 

rory: million, 3 million. It's a real problem. And the thing is that now you will both be driving somewhere and you'll happen to notice, oh my gosh, there's 10 shipping containers.

They're stacked and there's like a billion over here. And it's what are they using them for? And really what happened is that we are an import driven country, so everything comes over overseas and they don't ship these containers back. It is cheaper for them to make a container again than to ship 'em back.

So other countries have been phenomenal about reusing these containers and coming from an architectural family and construction family, I'm like, that's it. now I have a structure. It meets the sustainability piece that I love. It looks at the tiny living, which I'm sure we'll talk about it down the road here, and it really just fits that whole genre of doing something good with something that's gonna sit there and rust.

karen: All of a sudden [00:05:00] I'm thinking about driving down these Texas highways in the middle of nowhere and seeing these containers, and they've always made my head do this little turn what the heck is that doing there? And, but I have seen people start to create little structures out of them.

Can you talk about what was that inspiration moment? For you guys, what made you go, this is where we wanna spend our 

rory: time and energy and get creative on how we utilize them. I laugh because I started off as a clinical social worker in my last life basically.

And then I went into a lot of management consulting and I woke up at 48 and I looked at my husband and I said, I wanna start a business. I'm having a midlife crisis. And he's oh my gosh, here we go. really, I looked at Our lives and wanting to live smaller at some point.

 I felt like that home, that first question of how do you define a home and what does it mean? And it doesn't mean stuff to me. It really means an environment that just feels really. Good. And if I knew that we were gonna be empty nesters in, I dunno, five or so years, how can [00:06:00] we really make that happen?

And then translated that into, if I wanna do this, are other people doing this? And you look overseas and people are living in small spaces. And they're happy. They're happy, and people we can live on less and be happy and still have the things we want. And it all just Snowballed from that, and I started to do a lot more research around it, and it was just the median I wanted to use.

And in the US it just wasn't being used as well and as often as it is in other places. So it all fell together. I know you talked 

robyn: about camping and then you also mentioned that term tiny living, what does that mean? I think some people probably have heard of it, and some people may have seen things on HGTV because they've done some phenomenal shows with it.

But what 

rory: does it mean? I think it means something a little different for everybody. I joke with Dan and I say, I want to convert a van and I wanna go live in it and live across country and really just enjoy and seek out the new adventures. And he says, okay, you go do that and I'll meet you in South Dakota for a weekend.

Like for him that became [00:07:00] too small. And I think that, really is. How can you create a space or an environment that's that just right concept? We have, my space for my office that sits in my backyard is eight by 10, by nine and a half ceiling. That's a great size little office.

But then if you have kids, you're not gonna be living in an eight by 10 shipping container. We do get up to the three bedroom, two bath unit, but we just try to keep it so that it is not wasted space. It's space that we still have an open floor plan and everyone does still have a bedroom and they do have a bathroom.

And it's really about utilizing space better. And some people can live really tiny on very little. And then there's people who, just wanna live a little smaller where we all live now. 

robyn: I'm just looking at Karen's face because. we talk about all the time.

Cuz what Karen would love to do is actually what you just said before, which was like, go live in some sort of, RV or van and travel around, right? 

karen: You wanna go Rory? I would be I'm your 

robyn: Girl. You center si something going on. 

rory: [00:08:00] You have to really assess what you can do.

And when we go off grid camping, we are truly off grid. And it was something that friends of ours that really inspired us to start doing and. we love that, but we're like dehydrated food and water and really living off there. And there are people look at me like, no, glamping is great for me.

I wanna go live in a place where I have running water. You gotta look at it and where you're at. But everyone can make a difference and put it in perspective, And what I love about what you guys are doing 

karen: Is and we'll have lots of links so everybody can really see how beautiful these structures are.

But even for people who may be not wanting to give up their home, but maybe want a like you said, I keep saying to Robyn I would love that little she shed in my backyard where I could literally go out and have my own meditative space and place to work and then shut the door. I know the people next door to us, they have a whole bunch of little kids that they're homeschooling and it would be a great place to have.

Outside of the home where they could just consider that their space. Or mom-in-law maybe moving in for a time and you wanna give her own space. So I love this idea of all [00:09:00] the ways you could potentially use these structures if you want that little cabin in the woods. But if you want just that little 

extra space in your yard to call your own, that's another opportunity for people to utilize your structures too.

What do you 

rory: call them again? people will either say cargo, architecture, or, shipping containers, repurpose shipping containers. We're very specific on what we use, and really it's about if you're gonna convert something into a dwelling, you wanna make sure it's safe. Before. So we are taking the one trip containers, meaning they traveled across the sea one time and we are taking those right off of the shipyards.

So now we have some control over the manifest. It's bringing in Nike shoes versus hazardous waste. And really that's important cuz it needs to be recycled anyway. And then we understand the quality of what we're doing. And I love the fact that you can appreciate that it really does repurpose until a lot of different things.

And I think the advantage that it has is that you can really blend it into your community. Robyn doesn't live that far from me, and if [00:10:00] you drive by my backyard, my shipping container office actually looks like my a hundred year old English stucco house. And that was one of the requirements of blending because if people wanna have these extra.

Places they still wanna make it maybe look like a home. the misconception of it, that it's a rusty old box. It just doesn't apply. It's not like that at all. And so that's a big education piece for us. And then you can do it as if your parents are older. We don't live unfortunately in a society that, that typically has their parents come and stay with them as a regular thing.

Now they can have a sense of independence in the backyard. Our 40 foot has a. Full bedroom, full bath, full kitchen, full living in the container, right in the backyard. And so what a sense of meaning when you can have your adult parent or your adult child that can't afford rent. We're really struggling with people being able to afford living spaces these days.

And that's really a big piece for us too. When you talk 

robyn: about the affordability. What do they start at? what [00:11:00] would people, if they start to look into this, , how much are you 

rory: talking? Sure. Because we follow everything to building code, so we do everything the way it's supposed to be.

It's not as cheap as people wanna think it is, because we're not just taking a container and throwing a desk in. So we are being, insulation and Framing and floors and all your electric and all of that. So our very small unit will run you about 15,000 and our three bedroom, two bath unit will probably be about 200,000.

And then we call that fully turnkey. So you are being able to go right in there and then decorate and hook it up to your electric and plumbing and be ready to live in 

karen: it. I think that sounds amazing. 

rory: I'm writing this Karen's gonna be my customer. I might 

karen: be your distributor.

rory: I love you even more. I'm not kidding. 

karen: I'm really excited about this. so what is the process then? So do, people just go to your website and then come up with the idea of how much space and do they customize it with you, Rory? 

rory: How does that work? So we had originally thought that we were gonna just do standard layouts, which [00:12:00] we do actually have on our website, which are stamped architectural and engineered plans.

We're licensed in all 50 states to be your builder. And then what we found out is that people might start that way, but in your head, you'll walk in saying, I need X amount of bedrooms, X amount of bathrooms. And then, so we start with that and then we customize around that. We really do wanna try to stay in our footprint because then it comes back to the sustainability.

But some people 

they like the cool effect of a 

shipping container. So at least I know that they're doing something by recycling, which is good too. 

robyn: And 

rory: then can you talk about 

robyn: In terms of if people use solar panels and what other ways are you helping from a sustainable 

rory: perspective?

So it's all around that whole passive house concept. And what that is, and that's become a little bit of a buzzword too, is how sustainable can you go? And we look at that into two, two breaths. One is, how sustainable can we make our warehouse? So we're always trying to make that as passive as possible with energy efficiency.

[00:13:00] And then how can we make somebody's. Home as energy efficient and in using other materials to make it sustainable and that. Sometimes depends on the person because unfortunately solar, which is fantastic and offered almost everywhere, is still not cheap. And so people have to make the decision of long-term.

This is not just helping Mother Earth, but this is just overall what we should be doing. Can I put the money in upfront knowing it's going to recoup the benefit, or do I just say, I'm going the traditional route? Solar is the one that people tend to understand the most. But we use things like mini-splits, which is making it very energy efficient and energy star.

We use insulation so that it's not gonna be moldy and mildew. There's this lavender based spray foam that's fantastic to use. all kinds of flooring and other types of Products that we like and we love recycling. If you guys can come to our showroom at some point, we reutilize the door of a shipping container for our conference table, we'll try to take the cuts that we use and [00:14:00] we'll try to do all kinds of really fun, funky things.

So there's a lot of levels and we encourage people, but at the end of the day, you have to meet your clients where they're gonna land on some of those pieces. 

karen: Are they more, durable. Is there some advantage to the actual material of the cargo 

rory: material? Yeah, so you know, you're talking about a COR 10 steel structure.

So a 40 by eight by nine and a half feet roughly is 18,000 pounds. And so that thing's going absolutely nowhere. So when you coming up against a hurricane, A tornado. The fires in California, it is just a superior structure to what most of us live in our stick-built homes. And with very little maintenance, it can last over a hundred years.

Wow. We will paint it with a fresh coat of marine gray paints, and then you can put cladding on it and all of that, but at the end of the day, these things are made to go over back and forth on the ocean. Dozens and dozens of times. And so the structural integrity, really is superior to what we are typically used to living in.

Karen, like I see 

robyn: us having seeking center,. I can see.[00:15:00] See using these. 

rory: Yes, please. Yeah. You can do your spa and your meditation. That's right. all of that.

That is just something we've just launched those kinds of pieces are really important to me. It It really ticks off the box in terms of my social work background and the holistic treatment and how we can use these structures for those pieces, and it's important because you can do it 

robyn: Talking about. All that you put into this from a soul perspective. And right before we got on, we were talking about what it's like to own your own business. Cuz we're on the same journey in that respect. what would you say you've been relying on as you started 

rory: this journey?

Women. Really? Yes. I am working in a very male dominant. Industry, and so finding women who have either paved the way ahead of me or the mentors that I have put into place in my lives have been a huge piece of my world as well as my husband. Dan works a full-time job. [00:16:00] Separate from this. And he has really been my rock in terms of getting me through those moments where you're thinking, oh my gosh, I just did this and this is hard and this is a lot harder than I thought it was gonna be.

And I really just think having people that know you well enough to support you, even when you're not supporting yourself, is probably really what it took for me to get even this far. I would like to leave that as a legacy for, especially my daughter, my son too, but to show that a journey can be multiple directions.

Robyn, I don't know as much about Karen's journey, but I've seen your journey a little bit and you did not start where you are now. No. Yeah. And. You utilized your skills and your knowledge, but I'm sure if someone asked you 20 years ago that this was what you're gonna be doing and you would've thought they were crazy, 

robyn: I would've actually, yes.

karen: And that's usually the sign that you're on the right path, 

rory: right? 

karen: When you're really go putting yourself out there and following an inspired dream. And I love what you just [00:17:00] said, about your legacy because. I think there's gotta be some of that. your children, your grandchildren, who knows, will be able to drive down streets and be able to see these structures and know that you had a hand in bringing them there, which is really cool.

It's really a legacy of home, of giving people A space. And I think that's one of the biggest gifts. It's something that sometimes we al almost take for granted And yet it's such a shaper of our daily lives and an influence on how we feel. And like you said, that shelter of feeling, safe and ideally it reflecting us as well and who we are as people.

So it's an incredible gift. Not to mention what you're doing for the planet. That's an added bonus of course. I just think that's such a wonderful legacy for you to leave 

rory: behind. And congratulations by the way, on following through on that, 

karen: because as we were saying it takes a lot of wherewithal, it takes a lot of belief and persistence and all of those things to 

rory: really carry out a big dream like this.

I think when you have a little person looking at you and seeing [00:18:00] the normal struggles, and Karen, I know with, your daughter, you look at their normal struggles and you think, oh my gosh, I know that they're gonna be strong enough to get through this. Oh, by the way, I'm a role model and so I have to show her that.

My problems might be a little bigger than hers, but I have to figure out how to get through this too, and in a very human way. and she gets to see how it's hard and that's okay because it actually is always gonna be hard at some level and she's gonna be tough enough to do it. those moments where she's looking at me and I'm like, oh my gosh.

She's mom, you got this. And it's that's true. Maybe I do. 

robyn: I'm just thinking of things from a home perspective and the future of our planet and for our children and their children, and I can see shipping containers and little villages needing to be what ends up being the just like you just said to me, would, you have thought you were gonna do this 20 years ago?

And I would've said, no. Did you even know that you could live in a shipping container 20 years ago? 

rory: Absolutely not. And people think they started off just thinking about as being a very creative way to live, [00:19:00] and then that they realize that it's not just creative, it's actually meaningful.

And the sustainability piece is really important and really there. And it's our commitment. I would say that. Everyone has the ability to do a little something. the definition of sustainability is to coexist, then we're needing to coexist with this planet. Yes. And you don't have to do this in this big grandiose way.

You don't need to go start a business and recycle absolutely everything and only wear the same shirt and do something little I think that the Green Building Association, which is a national association that we use to look at how we can make things better. They have checklists and they have blocks of checklists.

And basically their concept 

is pick a few of these, go for it. Maybe every quarter, 

add a couple more. And this just happened to be the way that we could contribute to that. And then personally, our commitment is little by little. I'm wasteful in my own way but at least now I'm more mindful of that wastefulness, which has been good.

robyn: Speaking of that, what [00:20:00] would you suggest are little ways that people can start to be and live more 

rory: sustainably? That's a great question. I think you're you really need to have a passion in something. If you're gonna look at it from a environmental, economic, or social bucket piece. It's selecting what is most important to me and if I wanna tackle the environment, okay, what does that mean?

Maybe I recycle more. Maybe I'm committed to not using. one time plastic like your water bottles or whatever it is, those little things. Maybe you start planting a tree, maybe when you're recycling clothes or when you're buying clothes. I just heard this terrible thing I had to actually look it up, is when we recycle our clothes, like when we give them a charity the thousands and thousands of pounds of clothes that don't get used in clothes that are in landfill.

Do I really need that extra sweater that I'm buying in the winter? Maybe I don't, and so that there's, or food waste, we're really lucky we have food on our table and an abundance of it maybe we don't need so much. So there's, everyone can [00:21:00] decide on something that's meaningful to them and really start to put that into place because it makes a difference.


karen: really does when you think of each individual, we've had these conversations too about we all make that difference, even if it's just one or two little things, like you said, it 

rory: really does add up. 

karen: Can I just go back and ask one curious question? My gosh, please. about these buildings.

So once because I'm doing this in my head, Rory, I really am. Okay. Okay. So let's 

rory: build you a village. 

robyn: Love it. Like the light bulbs going up. That's 

karen: awesome. Awesome. That's great. I'm just trying to picture, so I'm in there and let's just say hypothetically it's a, she shed, little space for me in my backyard.

Do I design it all with you and then it comes complete on a truck bed somehow? Or is it. Built 

on my property. How, like how does that part of it work?

rory: Oh, that's a great question. So we had originally started the company where we were building on site and we quickly realized that was a really bad thing to do, especially if it was all over the country because now we're dealing with weather and zoning and building codes and all of that.

So we were able to get funded and we are in a [00:22:00] warehouse where we build everything. so what you would do is we would have a conversation on what your needs are and let's just. Consider it a she shed and you're doing the same one that I have in my backyard as an office. So you would know the dimensions, and then we would talk through just about the stuff that, how do we get it up to turnkey?

And then the cool thing is I would say, Hey Karen, this is what we have now. Pick your wall colors, now pick your floor Now build this out in terms of what you think would be really nice. For you, and then we finish it. We stick it on a flatbed truck because the trucks are shipping containers for the most part.

And we'll send it down to you. And then what happens? It comes right off the truck. We crane it right either you all have a foundation it, depending on what size. We make sure we help coordinate that. You stick it down and you're ready to hook it up and be inside of it. So you do have the ability to do some customization, but you don't need to customize the drywall.

The stuff like, if you're not a builder, you don't wanna worry about that. You wanna worry that you have [00:23:00] the right color yellow painted on, something like that. Or something that blends into what you're trying to do. I would work with you and show you a picture of the house, so that ideally you 

could create the outside 

karen: of it to aesthetically go 

rory: with that.

Yes, So we actually have five properties that are up in Wisconsin, and they are more in a wood-like setting. So the colors or the cladding that they would have chosen would blend into that type of environment. The city of Chicago, we're working on some affordable housing.

you the architectural kind of, Place that the city would do. We're not gonna do something super industrial. It's gonna blend into more of that townhouse feel of the south side of Chicago. And yes, you would find a picture and then we would find a way to blend it. And I think what I did for my office is the front looks like my house, but I kept the container doors on and they're bright red.

And the only way you can see that is by walking around, cuz I like the industrial piece. But the city where I live in didn't wanna see the industrial piece, so I blended all of [00:24:00] that and hit it away from them. That's so cool. 

robyn: and It's been easy to hook up the electricity and the water 

rory: and all of that.

Yeah. It's hooked up right to my house, so this one doesn't have plumbing in it. We can do it as a design of an an RV and hook it up that way, otherwise it can hook up to general sewer. People will build a well. People will use composting toilets. Once again, that gets into all of that sustainability.

How far do you wanna go? There's incinerating toilets, there's water retention where all the water's collected, obviously, and you can use it for water in your plants and gray water and stuff like that. Very easy. We have the ability to take it through the spectrum. You wanna be completely off grid.

We've got that package. You wanna blend into the suburban life around you. Then we can blend it into where you are there. 

robyn: Can you talk about too, how you're using these in a more creative way 

rory: for good.

we were blessed to partner with Taraji Henson's Foundation, the actress Boris l Henson Foundation and the Kate Spade Foundation to put wellness.

We're [00:25:00] calling 'em She Pods, wellness pods on university campuses. Really aligning with the fact that the mental health area among women of color is lacking. There's still a lot of taboo around that. So this was a supportive measure to help encourage young black women on college campuses to enjoy ways to.

Explore other alternatives to help with mental health, yoga, meditation, therapy, outdoor space. it's a pilot, so we put the first one down at Alabama State University. They were in our warehouse one. They're just spectacular and you'll have to go onto the website to do that. And Taraji was on the Today Show and the View and all that kind of stuff it's nice that she has the star power, but it was a very personal project for her and her foundation. And Tracy Jenkins is the one who runs her foundation. And obviously we all know what happened with Kate Spade and so around, suicide prevention.

So these units we had. There was a student artist that did the wrap around one of the univers. 

robyn: they're so gorgeous. Everyone will need to go check [00:26:00] them out on the site because, it was actually so inspiring on all of these different levels, knowing how they were gonna be used and then actually seeing 

rory: them.

they're really breathtaking. They're breathtaking. The design team did a fantastic job on what, you know when designers come in and they say they're gonna it this color or use this, and you're thinking, oh my gosh, that is not gonna work. And of course they know what they're doing and they pull this all together and you're like, I wish I had this on my campus.


robyn: when I saw them, I'm like, oh my God. 

rory: Look what we can do. And so talk about a legacy now, these young women on this campus, and there'll be more coming. The goal is to do the and then do the He Pods because men struggle with just as much mental health.

And then do the non-binary pods as well so that everybody can enjoy it's really cool. I'm so proud because. Of the end result. And obviously I know that we're the builders, but this team of people that I work with just gave out so much joy and so much energy and collab that it was priceless.

And they're all women. Yes, [00:27:00] the person who runs the show on our floor as a man, and he's fantastic, but these women all came together to make this project work. 

karen: I just think about the use of all of the different places right in almost any stage of life. The customization, like you were saying before, of really giving people that opportunity to.


rory: a space that reflects them and what they need 

karen: in that space. 

rory: you love the concept that we have created, we haven't implemented yet, but it's called a workplace live environment. So the containers actually develop a site plan with a village where you have your living, your homes, whether it be town homes or small homes.

Or row houses. And then you have your work where it's the people who are in the coffee shops and the people who are running those retail spaces. And then you have the play pieces, which are these meditation places. so it's a whole workplace village all out of containers. And so you can really mix and match what you're trying to do, and you really just never have [00:28:00] to leave your little village.

It's a very community feel then in one place. 

robyn: has anyone done anything like 

rory: that yet? We have two that are being proposed right now, not far from here, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that, this will come into fruition and we'll be able to do it. Oh my goodness.

karen: It feels just to your point, 

robyn: like they are more affordable. 

rory: it's obtainable. It's something that I hope that we can really explore for more and more people and to help provide people who can't afford anything. We are not able to target the homeless at this point because we're gonna need to probably have the support of grant money and other types of nonprofit funding, but we are able to support families that are working and still can't buy a house.

Those kinds of people that really are. Busting there rear ends off and still can't make their ends meet. And that should not happen. You should be able to put a roof over your house of what we would wanna live into. I'm not gonna build you something that I would not wanna live in myself.

karen: No, it gives that dream. Of having a home and making it a reality. [00:29:00] They don't have to have a large plot of land. it doesn't have to be monumental. And yet even what you were saying before about the cost efficiencies of some of the ways that you can build that will also help them save on the backend as well.

rory: so much more 


karen: just. reinventing a shipping container. Rory It really is. And 

rory: and it's a you asked the question, Robyn, early on about Tiny Living and Tiny Home. If you think about our own home and how much wasted space we actually have hallways and, little nooks and things like that, that we decorate.

We really don't need. And so people are like, oh, I don't wanna be on top of , each other. You're really not, you get used to how you feel and it's not uncomfortable. I'm not talking about a box. And I think people realize they just need a lot less, and then they utilize the spaces just much more efficiently.


And I think a lot of people now, 

 Are looking at that simplification, and this just gives them an inspiring way to do it because then they can not only have this beautiful space, but it can be a space that does good for the earth.

rory: and if you're not even into [00:30:00] sustainability now, is a way for you to do it just by accidentally Yeah, that's 

karen: right. 

robyn: That's right. . Tell us what you feel like is the impact that you want to leave 

rory: on this planet. I think for me, it's probably a couple of fold the legacy for my kids to see that you can do what you wanna do if you just put some grit into it and the persistence around that and that the impact doesn't have to be big, it can be smaller, but really, coming from that family that has the architects and the construction people, I'm leaving something that people can visually see.

That is maybe a smaller footprint, but still beautiful. And that kind of warms my heart because now you can use it and really impact a lot of people in a lot of different types of ways. So the legacy piece is really important to me for 

karen: long term. And what advice would you give to someone who might have a dream like this who might wanna launch their own?

Idea business. What has it been for you? I know it's it is challenging, but what kinda advice 

rory: would you give to that person? I think [00:31:00] my biggest. Takeaway from my experience as an entrepreneur and I just had a friend whose daughter's in college interview me around entrepreneurialism.

And I think that there are two kinds of entrepreneurs. I thought about this for a long time. I think it's the entrepreneur that has big ideas. And really they have wonderful ways of impacting other people and other ways to utilize ideas and integrate creativity. And they're needed in one way.

And then they're the entrepreneurs who are crazy to start a business. Me who might have a good idea and then really has to put in all of that work and persistence. And I don't believe you need to be an entrepreneur in both ways. I think you can find a way to be an entrepreneur in either way, and Really it's about if you're gonna do something, you should go for it. But you should do it with a knowledge of what it means, which for me is talking to everybody you know, and then everybody they know and really helping to flush all that out because you might find out that you start in point A [00:32:00] and it doesn't mean point A is not wonderful, but point A, you might not have enough information to get to point C and if your goal is to be successful, You gotta start talking to people because you're really gotta dig into the research is this viable?

Is it just me that loves this? Or do you think other people are gonna love this? And then just dig in and go on that 

robyn: journey and be on that ride 

rory: And realize it's hard and there are moments you're just gonna kick yourself and wonder why you did in the first place. And then you have the joyous moments that keep you going.

robyn: One question I also wanna ask, going back to the actual creation of these, and if you're someone like Karen, who I think, or seeking center that will end up building and 

rory: creating one, how long does it take, 

robyn: typically from the week that you know that someone reaches 

rory: out to you?

Yeah, no, that's, it's also a question and we get a lot, which is really an important question because we're able to build them in a factory, so it's weather controlled and quality controlled. We say that it's about eight to 12 weeks, so from when you come to me and we do your plans, we will [00:33:00] build that out in eight to 12 weeks and it should be on your property.

So it's, that's amazing. 

robyn: That's incredible. 

rory: Wow. Yeah. So there's a big difference. You 

karen: have to remember, I'm using a structure that's 

rory: already in place. I'm starting with something that I'm taking off the shipyard and that whole structure is the house piece, and then I'm just building out the inside of that house piece.

so we start with something that's already been started for us. 

robyn: Obviously Karen and I talk every day and she just went through this whole process of building a home 

rory: and Oh, Karen, had I 

karen: known 

rory: I know well, and 

robyn: knowing now also because of Covid and all these other reasons, how much things have gone up in terms of building a home.

In the more typical way. And so when you think about the cost, and the time like things for Karen end up taking much longer. that's when my mouth dropped when Rory said eight weeks. 

karen: 10% cheaper. I 

rory: don't wanna tell you that now, Karen, because, materials have gone up tremendously and shipping container costs have also gone up, [00:34:00] but not as much.

And so we don't have as much lumber and we don't have as much of some of the other pieces. So think they're dirt cheap. It's not, I typically say it's usually about 10% cheaper than an average stick build house. Yeah. 

karen: No We can't look backward. No. 

robyn: Your place is beautiful.

Your home, you love. 

karen: I will say, I have been talking about this idea of this she shed and what would that look like and how would we go about doing that? And I have to say too, that is a huge thing down in Texas right now because 

rory: there's a lot of land here and a lot of 

karen: people like us wanna pool because it's so hot.

And so they, there's shipping container pools. There 

robyn: are, yes. 

karen: And spas, 

rory: they're crazy. We don't typically do them because in my opinion, that's a niche area that has a different type of skillset. But you go to, I'll even talk about a competitor, you go to Mods Pools and that's what they specialize in doing, 

robyn: shipping at Dator pools.


karen: I really do genuinely see, and as you had mentioned earlier, the weather down here is so unpredictable, so things like that, even. [00:35:00] My mother keeps saying, Karen, where are you gonna go if there's a tornado? 

rory: Oh, we don't. We're gonna go to the she shed that. We're gonna, now I 

karen: have an answer. Really I think there's just so many cool 

rory: and wonderful advantages for 

karen: everyone to at least look into this because just going to your website is inspiring and seeing what you've 

rory: done.

I should make mention, company is called SI Container Builds, but the SI stands for sustainable imprints. Originally, that was what our company was called. It was just sustainable imprints until we realized that nobody knew what that was. And we had to add in the container piece.

But I kept the SI because that is really where our core is around sustainability. That was important to us too. 

robyn: I'm really glad you said that. I was gonna ask. What SI meant. That makes so much sense. 

karen: And the word imprint is so inspiring in its sense too, You are leaving an imprint on the planet, on people's lives. it's a great name for what you're doing. And 

robyn: have you, just because you're in this. Industry, have you seen this growing [00:36:00] globally? 

rory: Absolutely.

If you go and you just search like on Pinterest container homes, you are gonna see structures that are gonna blow you away. Architects have just been superior in their design of these and all of Australia Europe. All other places have been doing this for a very long time and we're just starting to build those bridges around it.

And now it's been able to use the concept and like we were talking about other ways for this workplace village or for the she pods that are down at Alabama State now. There's other ways to do it. We're just getting more creative because what are you gonna do with 23 million containers that are sitting around.

It's not gonna change. We're getting stuff every day that is not 

robyn: changing. And do you find that there are certain states that you see them more in certain places than 

rory: others? Absolutely. I think, California a year and a half ago passed a statewide zoning for the ability to put what's called an A D U in your backyard, which is what we're talking about, the accessory dwelling units.

And [00:37:00] it was because of all the fires and the destruction of people's dwellings that they basically said, you're gonna be allowed to put this in your backyard. You can live in it until you rebuild your home, and then you can use it to rent out again. And so those types of things, are there, California is very progressive.

I gotta say Texas is very progressive for containers Florida. Now we're really trying to show like if you want something that's hurricane proof, we've got covered. So there are areas, being in Chicago and being in a port town, it's easy to take the containers right off of the shipyards. So that tends to be why they might be more popular in certain states.

Even though they transport really nicely, it's just easy. That's really helpful. Yeah, 

robyn: wow. I think there's gonna be a lot of people listening today that have never heard about them, to be honest. 

rory: We're the only ones in Illinois that do a full turnkey shipping container build.

There are people who do fabrication just fabrication, but we are the only ones to do that. And it's been nice to really break into your own community. Yes. 

robyn: [00:38:00] Rory, I'm I know, for me just seeing you go through this from the beginning, it's been. A privilege, and I know we're on this adventure together.

So we're seeking together with parents, we're 

rory: seeking. Oh, I feel that way every single day. I feel so blessed when you meet somebody that you have a relationship with, and doesn't matter how much time goes by when you connect, it's just, that's a real feeling. And I get to meet Karen now.

Who's your other half here? Yes, she's, 

karen: I always feel that, yeah. I always have the advantage of meeting Robyn's extended family, and then they become my kindred. Right after there's, 

rory: yeah. If people find each other, that's what it is. If I could only do a referral for friendship from the people I love, that's how the friends 

karen: will be for me.

robyn: And then, but to your point, it's all about the networking and the talking to people. One person leads to another, so that's what this life's 

rory: about.

You can't be afraid. Even if you're shy or you're more of an introvert, then use the [00:39:00] internet to talk with people. ask questions. this is, I guess where you come in about this, the seeking piece. The only way to be successful is to learn from other people, because most likely someone has done it before and has some experience, then you're not supposed to know it all.

You're just not ever and that would be my, that's the truth. 

robyn: Everyone listening, you can find out more about working with Rory and Container homes and working spaces at You can also check them out on Instagram at SI container builds. And we know we're gonna be in touch.

I have a feeling that like I love it. You started something here today. Thank you. I appreciate it. Appreciate you. I appreciate you too. Thank you. Take care 

The New Type of Home: Good for You + Mother Earth