Kathy Ireland ventures into shipping container business

Business mogul Kathy Ireland has built an empire selling everything from dressers to diamonds. Now she’s got her eye on a new investment, shipping containers.

“It’s an extraordinary product. It’s economical; it’s environmentally sound. They’re safe and they’re wonderful,” she said while touring a Los Angeles community center made entirely of repurposed containers.

Ireland has invested in SG Blocks, the company that modified those containers for the city’s first container-based arts and recreation center, built in record time to serve the needs of inner-city kids. The 24,000-square-foot facility has 46 containers which were welded together, with holes carved out for doors and windows.

“Traditional construction is the last industry that has been disrupted with technology, so we’re building the same way we did 200 years ago,” said SG Blocks Chairman and CEO Paul Galvin. “Modular construction is the way to disrupt traditional construction.”

Galvin said the containers are half the price of traditional construction and can be assembled in less time. It took eight weeks to erect the community center.

That efficiency is what sold Ireland.

“These can be anything from luxury homes to medical facilities when there’s a crisis around the world, to low income housing [or] schools,” Ireland said.

The CEO plans to use the containers for retail space in China and at her resorts worldwide.

Closer to home, the steel boxes can be repurposed for affordable housing. Each container costs about $3,000 apiece, an attainable option for first-time buyers who can’t afford a pricey home.

“For millennials, they don’t want to buy the 4,000-square-foot house and have a mortgage they’re stuck with,” said Tommy Meharey, Vice President of Kathy Ireland Worldwide. “This 240-square-foot container is an option feasible in price.”

The containers are also a great option for luxury home buyers, Galvin said.

“We built a house in the Hamptons that was assembled in five hours. It’s for sale for $1.5 million,” he said.

Whether it’s a fancy house in the Hamptons, or an affordable townhouse in the city, the containers are a trendy, renewable version of the American dream.