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Christopher Webley has always known that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. At the age of 11, he started a lawn care business. He printed flyers on his home computer and handed them out to the neighbors. Soon, he was so busy, his father took notice and decided to help. His dad bought a truck and started transporting Christopher to his jobs on the weekend. In exchange, Christopher helped his dad with cleaning buildings during the week.
During college, Christopher started a menswear clothing line. After completing his degree in Textile Technology, Christopher went to work for Victoria‘s Secrets. As his corporate pay began to roll in, he made a crucial decision. Instead of increasing his lifestyle to match his salary, he continued to live at the standard of a college student. He saved over half of his paycheck. His savings gave him options. “I always wanted to give back,” he says.
One of the first social issues Christopher identified was housing. “If you don’t have a roof over your head, chances are you won’t be starting a business,” Christopher explains. With his savings, he started a development real estate company. He purchased and rehabbed several multi family buildings. “The whole idea was, I wanted to provide equitable housing for people living in subpar conditions.”
Christopher partnered with the YWCA to move homeless women into housing. However, the women he moved into his apartments were not able to pay rent, and in the long run, Christopher was forced to evict them. This sobering moment caused Christopher to take a longer view. “You can have housing,” he says, “but that does not mean you have a job. That does not mean you know how to manage your money.” He realized he would have to look more holistically at the problem.
Around this time, Christopher was recruited to Minnesota by the Target Corporation. As he disentangled himself from his properties in Ohio, Christopher had a chance to start fresh in Minnesota. He decided to focus on commercial instead of residential real estate. “We could have a place where we can bring people to influence the economic, education and health and wellness disparities.”
After only three years with the Target Corporation, Christopher was impacted by a layoff. “I thank God for that experience,” he told me. “I would have made the leap eventually to go into full-time entrepreneurship. That layoff was the push that got me started.” He started a new company, New Rules.
New Rules bought a building on Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis. They held a series of design meetings, asking members of the local community what they needed. “There were a lot of overlaps in the needs,” Christopher told me. Based on this feedback, New Rules’ 4,000 sq. ft. facility opened in October 2016. It includes a Maker space, shared workspace, retail and event space. Their coworking model includes skills building. They host a series of Lunch & Learns and webinars.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Christopher Webley
“I’ve always known that I would eventually become a full-time entrepreneur.”
“There are inevitable barriers that lie ahead.”
“Everybody has to have skin in the game for this to work.”
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- New Rules: http://www.newrulesmn.com
- New Rules on Twitter: https://twitter.com/newrulesnorth
- New Rules on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newrulesnorth
- New Rules on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/newrulesnorth
- Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: http://tonyloyd.com/book