We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Cox Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always loved the creative process behind real estate development – the “sausage-making” is complex and interesting and full of surprises. The fact that I could also have a tangible impact on peoples lives and solve pressing social equity problems through the development of affordable housing communities – specifically those enriched with supportive services – made me even more determined to start a company focused exclusively on empowering the disempowered. And, also… I saw other people doing a terrible job at running affordable housing development companies and I thought, what am I waiting for? I can do it better.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Rivet is a catalyst for and a steward of a community’s aspirations. We work to solve critical social problems and address basic unmet needs through innovation and a market-driven approach to real estate development. We believe our role as real estate developers is to break walls down even as we raise buildings up. We believe in the power of place to cultivate ideas, challenge beliefs, and encourage inclusivity. We believe that the built environment can be an agent for change while delivering value to residents, tenants, communities, and investors. Our impact investment model leverages public, private, and philanthropic capital in order to build healthy, equitable, and resilient places. We work to improve the lives of the underserved and marginalized members of our communities. I fell into affordable housing development out of necessity after being laid off from a multinational land development company in 2009. But, working in the public sector for a local housing authority was the single most transformative career move I could have made. My first development project was a 31 unit apartment building for chronically homeless adults. Needless to say, the NIMBY sentiment was overwhelming, but celebrating its grand opening after four years of hard work was beyond gratifying. Since then, I have devoted a large portion of my work to building homes for those experiencing homelessness. It turns out that starting a real estate development company alone, without a trust fund or a big bank account, is not for the faint of heart. Every day, I am building the proverbial plane while simultaneously flying it. The challenges are numerous, the setbacks are frequent, but when I look back at where I was in 2009, I can see all the progress that I’ve made. So, that keeps me going.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
OK! Let’s play “36 Hours in Boulder, Colorado.” First, ditch the car – we can ride bikes anywhere we want to go on Boulder’s extensive trail network. First, we will fuel up on brunch at Snooze (eggs benny – woot woot!) and then cruise the Boulder Creek path to the Farmer’s Market (pretending its Saturday) where we will load up on crusty bread and veggies for an al fresco lunch on my back porch. While admiring the view of the Indian Peaks Wilderness from said porch, we will plan a hike the following day to Arapaho Glacier. That evening, we will catch a live taping of some really cool and extremely entertaining musician at eTown and then treat ourselves to a fancy dinner at Oak. Late night, because I’m nostalgic for dive bars, consists of playing pool and drinking beer at the Sundowner. Moxie Bread Co will revive our spirits the following morning with espresso and kouigns. Armed with a backpack of snacks and hydration (including a few celebratory cans from Avery Brewing Co, to enjoy at the summit), we head off on our hike! A welcome-back-to-civilzation stop at Sweet Cow for milkshakes feels deserved before we go to concert #2 of the weekend at Chautauqua Park. Tickets for the evening show are unnecessary since locals just throw down a blanket on the lawn and listen to the tunes through the open barn doors. The view of the sun setting over the flatirons is a perfect end to a perfect weekend. And, yes, friend – we do this all the time, so don’t be a stranger and come back soon.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to say thanks to the women in my life who encouraged me, motivated me, accepted me, and helped steer me: Aunt J – for being a role model, Susan Powers – for opening doors, Monique Cadle – for teaching me to trust myself, and to my mom – for never once doubting me.
1440 Pine – supportive housing for transition age youth exiting homelessness Construction of 1440 Pine – TGTHR (formerly, Attention Homes) staff Grand opening of 1440 Pine Jose Beteta – co-owner of Raices Brewing Co.