We had the good fortune of connecting with Israel Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Israel, what role has risk played in your life or career?
From leaving my home at 17 to travel abroad, to following a girl across the border in a 1969 VW bug (that I restored with my dad), to launching an import/export business with only $1500 invested and no day job to fall back on, to putting every last minute into designing and building tiny homes… every big moment in my life has come from taking a “calculated” risk, and it has fortunately paid off. When I graduated high school, I moved from Mexico to South Carolina for a gap year. I only knew 1 person there and had no plans of how I would spend my time. I just knew I wanted to experience something new. I took advantage of every day doing a little bit of everything – learning English, working, mountain biking, racing, and a little partying. I’ve always had the mentality that everything I do or learn will be handy in the uncertain future. Now as I look back, everything I was doing at that time “for fun” affected my professional and personal life since. After a year, I went back to Mexico to study international commerce. Several years later in Mexico, through the same friend I was with in SC, I met my wife. She was living in Mexico as a Peace Corps volunteer, and I knew I couldn’t let her get away. So I left everything to follow her to California, not knowing what would come of our relationship or my future, but it was worth the risk. About 5 years ago, I launched an import/export business, starting with one outdoor gear brand. My passion for the outdoors from so many years before along with my education prepared me for this adventure. While launching a business is always a risk, this one was a well thought out and planned step. Most recently, my wife and I decided to go all-in on tiny houses and van conversions (RVs), the risk of course, being a tiny lifestyle and all the time and money invested in building. We originally designed one for ourselves and quickly saw the potential for expansion. While there are many tiny home builders in the US, we are the first and only company building in Mexico and exporting to the States. I consider myself competitive and adventurous, so I have always taken risks as a challenge to overcome. I understand that risk taking is not a fit for everyone, but it has served me well so far. For me, risks are essential to keep moving forward in my goals and dreams. However, I’ve learned over the years that it’s also worth taking the time to research, plan, and have alternatives in case anything goes wrong.
What should our readers know about your business?
Tiny Topanga is a tiny home building and van conversion company located in central Mexico, with a base in Los Angeles. We build RV certified Tiny Homes and Vans for export to the US. What makes Tiny Topanga unique, is that we are the only builders in Mexico, we offer a type of structural steel not found in other builds, and every one of our homes includes Mexican handcrafted artisan pieces incorporated into the build. What we’re most excited about is being able to provide a sustainable debt-free lifestyle to anyone looking for a simple yet, abundant life.
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 dedicate my shoutout to my dad and brother who have been an essential part of my success both personally and professionally. They have helped me grow my import/export business, have supported with every step of the tiny home building, and even take care of my little one, Leonardo, from time to time. Without their support and help, I’m sure that my life wouldn’t be the same.