my story

I went RVing…because I wanted to be free.

I want to be free of extra possessions (though I miss the double sinks and soaking tub in our bathroom!)…free of extra bills…free of the over-scheduled busy-ness of our professional lives…and free to enjoy the everyday moments of life with my husband.

Summary

Born: 1971

Home: Denver, CO

RVing with: Tim (husband) and Chase (yellow lab)

RVing full-time since: June 2010

Type of RV: 2006 Trailmanor 3124KS, tow vehicle 2010 Honda Ridgeline

Best thing about RVing: Freedom to change the view outside my door any time I want

Biggest challenge in RVing: Managing the technology needs of my business from the road

Life philosophy(ies): There is a sovereign God who loves us and has a purpose for our lives. We all have gifts we are meant to share with the world, if we can find the courage to develop them and show them to others.

My story

Humble Beginnings

Born in a small, rural town in southwestern Minnesota, I grew up on a horse farm and learned a lot about life and the practicalities of surviving and thriving on the wind-swept prairie of the upper Midwestern United States. Some of my earliest life lessons were learned while baling hay, picking rocks, and riding beans as a hired hand for the nearby corn and soybean farmers. I think my dad was born a generation too late, as he preferred to do everything around our alfalfa and horse farm with draft horses and horse-drawn machinery rather than tractors, so I learned how to put up hay the old-fashioned way, drive a team of horses or mules, and also the joy of riding my favorite horse bareback and barefoot on sunny Minnesota summer afternoons!

Educational Adventures

I attended college in Minnesota as well, and a year after graduating with a degree in Theology, I met my husband Tim while we were both coaching at my alma mater, we became friends quickly, fell in love, and were married 11 months from the day we first met. Tim is my best friend and the love of my life, and we have already had lots of wonderful adventures in our 15 years of marriage, having lived in 9 states in that time!

I completed my MBA online in 2003 at what is now one of the top online MBA programs in the U.S., Liberty University. The emphasis in leadership sparked a continued interest in the ways that great leadership can make business more than just about the bottom line. While enrolled full-time in the MBA program, I also took a full-load semester of grad classes on campus at a university in Pennsylvania, thinking that I would enjoy a degree in Mass Communication and Education Technology. Unfortunately, the program was ineptly named and turned out to be really all about Instructional Design, which has actually helped me in developing curriculum for classes and seminars over the years! I like to have a lot going at once…I seem to thrive with lots of variety!

I am presently working toward a PhD in Organizational Development & Leadership online, and hope to be finished in 2013. I’m definitely a lifelong learner and am loving learning more about leadership and psychology with the hopes of applying the understanding of it and personality differences to the benefit of my marriage and to my clients!

A Wandering Road to Vocational Satisfaction

I spent a lot of years wondering how I should spend my professional life. While I had no specific career path for many years, I knew that I wanted work worth doing, that made a difference in the lives of the people I worked with. That overriding direction led me to a variety of great positions. I created my first small business in Kansas City in the late 1990s (when the internet was in its infancy) creating websites and teaching 60-85-year-olds how to use the internet and their new personal computers. I spent time in the higher education world as a head volleyball coach, senior woman administrator, and business software professor. I also taught Theology in a private high school in the southern U.S.

Some of the Hiram College athletes in a shot Candy set up and took for a campaign

A Defining Opportunity

I began a small college sports photography business in 2002, which came in handy shortly thereafter when I accepted one of the defining positions of my professional career: the director of sport marketing for Hiram College, a private liberal arts college in Ohio. During this role, which made me responsible for marketing 20 NCAA III athletic programs as well as managing the media relations for those teams, I discovered how my past roles were converging to point me in a new professional direction. My love of photography helped me teach my staff to take great photographs that were used in our marketing (see one of my favorite marketing shots above). My passion for design (both web and graphic) helped me develop and maintain a 400+ page athletic website filled with continually dynamic content (most of which is still in use today) and producing numerous marketing booklets for the programs. My interest in marketing expanded and my team and I reaped huge rewards for our hard work, tripling game attendance and overcoming the prevailing negative attitude on campus toward the athletic department.

However, the same position that began to shape my professional future also took about 80 hours of my time each week. I began losing sight of my personal priorities and when my husband, the men’s basketball coach at the same college, resigned his position, I decided to do the same in order to refocus on what was important. We put all of our possessions in storage, except for a laptop, camera, and some clothes, and hit the road in our Honda Element (complete with our yellow lab Chase). We called it our “Pause on Purpose” roadtrip and it turned out to last 8 months (see the blog). Eventually we decided to settle near Denver and began building our lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

A New Business Rises from the Ashes

In the spring of 2007, I was contemplating whether my passion for photography could be parlayed into a bona fide business. I attended a week-long photography conference in the Rockies. That was quite a week. At the time, I was employed by a lead generation company as their marketing communications director and was helping them write sales copy, build a website to collect data, and launch a new direct mail campaign. The company went bankrupt seemingly overnight, leaving 40+ employees in lurch. Two of my previous payroll checks bounced that week. At the same time, I was owed several thousand dollars in back pay, and payments we had made were bouncing left and right as a result of the company being bankrupt. So it seemed the perfect time to launch a new business! Right?

I had realized at the conference that while photography could be a great business, I wasn’t ready for the investment in equipment. I saw that the small business owners in the class with me had a huge need for stylish, effective marketing and design. I knew that my marketing experience, combined with my design aesthetic and web knowledge, could easily translate into a new business serving the small business owner, regardless of industry. I could manage their marketing efforts and help them grow their businesses with creative business planning and stylish design.

Candy Rice Design is Born

So I came home from the conference, built my website, and launched my business (Candy Rice Design) the following week, working with a photographer from that conference. I built her Flash website and took over most of her marketing. That first year her business grew by 36% and I knew I was onto something.

At first, my company was focused on building custom websites and marketing. I built sites for nonprofits, businesses, and photographers. Then I realized that my true professional passion was helping organizations become better at understanding how marketing and business planning could expand their revenues and market share. So I shifted the focus of my business (the flexibility to do this is part of why I love small business so much!) to marketing consulting tied to stylish, effective campaign design. I still build websites because they are a necessary component to any comprehensive marketing plan, and continued to offer copy writing services, software training in Adobe and MS Office products, as well as photography services.

The Collective Savvy Gets its Start

Then in late 2009, I met Cassie, a former colleague of my husband’s from the American Heart Association, and within 2 months we decided to join forces and create a new company. I merged Candy Rice Design into the new company in March of 2010, and haven’t looked back! We coach business owners to think critically about their business practices and marketing efforts, and we’ve seen our clients experience dramatic results. We love what we do! Our clients come back to us time and again for strategy sessions, brainstorming, and new campaigns. I consider it a huge blessing to do what I love and, in doing that, to help others make such a radical difference in their businesses and personal lives.

After one year Cassie decided to step away from The Collective Savvy due to some huge changes in her personal life and to pursue a sideline hobby that was clamoring for more business nurturing. And thus the company continues to grow and morph right along with its owners!

A Laptop Nomad on the Rices’ Radical Sabbatical

In June of 2010, I was able to achieve a long-held dream with my husband: to go full-time RVing for at least a year! We traded in the Element (253,000 miles–all ours!) for a Ridgeline pickup and bought a Trailmanor RV trailer, sold most of our possessions and stored the rest in a 5×10 storage unit, then hit the road with our dog Chase.

We spent a month in Anacortes, Washington, followed by a month in Alaska (gorgeous drive through BC and the Yukon Territory–everyone should do that at least once!), a month in Colorado, a month in Minnesota, and now spending the winter months in Austin, Texas. My husband teaches sports management classes online for several universities, so both of us are able to work as laptop nomads, which is both challenging and extremely rewarding! We are not sure how long we’ll continue to RV, but 6 months in we’re still loving it! People ask us if we’re retired or independently wealthy, and while we’re far from either of those, we do feel really rich in life and the freedom to pursue our businesses from wherever God leads us!

If you’re interested in learning more about our adventure (aka the Rices’ Radical Sabbatical), click the link on the menu bar! We’d love to have you follow along as we explore more of the United States and Canada while trying to grow and sustain 2 businesses, all while living in 200 square feet of living space!

So why am I doing this project?

This is a personal photography and story-collecting project that I have wanted to do for a long time. I’m looking for full-time RVers who want to share their stories with me, and then with my readers.

Are you interested? Looking for a way to be involved? We always accept donations (in the sidebar), of course!

Want to share your story? Call or email me to schedule a chat!

My RVing photos (courtesy of Sohi Photography)

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