Over the last two decades, Daniel Jennings, Sr. has endured the construction and real estate business. After watching the gap in house affordability widen, Jennings created Tiny Cottage Concept LLC, which specializes in building energy-efficient small-footprint homes with innovative home capabilities as an alternative source for affordable housing. Tiny Cottages are built in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and transported to destinations across the country. Understanding what it’s like to dream of a brighter future, Jennings donates ten percent profit of every tiny home sold to nonprofits that shelters victims of domestic violence.
At 19, Jennings decided to step out on faith and chase his dream of owning a business. Jennings bought a carpet cleaning machine and truck mount and gained a reputation for quality work with corporate clients. By twenty-one, Jennings took his entrepreneurial vision to the next level and purchased a Jani-King franchise that provided tailored janitorial and disinfecting services. At that time, Jennings was the only Vicksburg franchise, making it appealing to larger commercial clients.
Jennings credits all of his success to divine intervention and timing. The previous owner of the Jani-King franchise sold to focus on his real estate investing career, which piqued Jennings’s interest. Becoming his mentor, Jennings learn a new industry. Jennings utilized his cleaning business’s revenues to purchase fixer uppers to renovate and resale. During that season of his career, Jennings recognized the need for affordable housing and grew passionate about helping first-time home buyers.
“I bought my first property to flip in 2005 and made no profit,” said Jennings. “But I knew there was a learning curve. Within a few properties, I was doing well.” “By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was making six figures.”
But what comes up must come down. And, when the real estate market crashed with the 2007/2008 recession, Jennings found himself humbled and back at square one.
“My real estate coach warned me the business wouldn’t be this good forever,” recalled Jennings. “But I was young, making good money, and naive.” “Then the recession came in 2007/2008, and everything changed.”
“I went from buying and selling homes with my name on the houses to dumpster hopping to survive,” shared Jennings. “That’s when I noticed all the cardboard tossed away, so I started recycling.”
Jennings would put on his best suit and go to business storefronts, asking to pick up their used and discharged cardboard, then change into street clothes and go to dumpster sights looking for more cardboard. Jennings returned his findings to a warehouse he still owned and bundled cardboard himself to resell. Before long, Jennings was back in business, adding a fleet of trucks to his company to ship recycled cardboard all over the united states, feeding his family and making a respectable living.
Jennings never lost his love of real estate or the desire to give back to his Warren County community. A by-chance meeting with a gentleman who had traded his traditional mobile home for a shipping container renovated to become a livable space sparked the idea of the Tiny Cottage Concept. Jennings started building this home style seven years ago, knowing the affordability could help the homeless, the underserved, and anyone looking to create financial stability through homeownership.
“I am finally able to tie in selling homes to create money to build homes and donate homes for the homeless to nonprofit organizations that will provide housing for the homeless in America or victims of domestic violence,” said Jennings. “Everything I have been through has provided me the insight and foresight for Tiny Cottage Concept.”
Recently, Jennings received $25,000 to continue his efforts to build energy-efficient affordable homes in the community of Vicksburg after giving his pitch to Shark Tank investor Daymond John for Black Entrepreneurs Day.
You can learn more about Tiny Cottage Concept LLC by visiting their Facebook page.
Photos provided by Daniel Jennings, Sr.