Couple Quits 9-5 Job To Start "The Brix"

Tiegen and Keenan Brickson Owners of Renovated Canal Park Condo Enjoy “Snowbird Lifestyle” at an Early Age

Professionally, most Americans follow the preordained path of “9-to-5 ‘til you’re 65.” We’ve been taught that pursuing this oft-dreary track is an absolute requirement for financial security.

But what if there was another way?

Well, there is. And one local couple (well, I suppose we should say semi-local, since they are technically snowbirds) have figured it out.

FIRE Movement

Tiegen Brickson and his wife Keenan enjoy a unique lifestyle. In their early 30s, the Bricksons quit their corporate jobs to focus on short-term rentals (also known as “Airbnbs”) as their primary source of income. They currently split their time between Minnesota and Florida and own property in both states.

The Brickson Family from left to right- Keenan (Baby #3 due in October), Jett (18 months), Tiegen, and Isla (3). The family spends most of the year on the Space Coast of Florida and manages their business remotely.

By buying real estate in Duluth’s uber-popular Canal Park, they have ensured their condo (soon to be condos, plural) remains solidly booked – often, for months in advance. This equates to enough steady, passive income to comfortably support them and their children without full-time jobs.

“We had to snap ourselves out of the mold we’re all put into – and that’s to pile up as much money as you can until you’re 65,” said Tiegen. “That’s the playbook. But Keenan and I made an intentional decision to follow a very different playbook. Our North Star in all of this is that we wanted to have a family and be present for our kids.”

So, the couple decided to pursue an alternative lifestyle. They researched the “FIRE movement” (financial independence, retirement early), which led them to learn about investing in real estate and converting it to short-term rentals, also known as Airbnbs.

Tiegen acknowledges that today’s high-tech world helps make this lifestyle attainable. The couple manages much of their real estate portfolio remotely.

“We’re so fortunate to be living in the time we are,” he noted. “We have exposure to the resources, platforms, and technology to make it all possible.”

The Bricksons’ only regret? That they can’t stay in their Duluth condo more frequently.

“We love Canal Park and the beach so much,” Keenan added. “So, it’s kind of a bummer that our property is always rented out!”

Duluth Love Story

The Bricksons’ origin story circles back to Duluth. Tiegen, who is originally from Hermantown, was working at a bouncer at the former Grandma’s Sports Garden.

Keenan, who is from Bloomington, came to Duluth to visit friends. She wound up at Grandma’s, and the rest is history.

Love blossomed immediately, and the couple married young. After Tiegen entered the Navy, the couple lived in Oklahoma City for a time.

Along the way, they both earned college degrees: Keenan has a degree in business and economics from UW-River Falls, and Tiegen has a degree in marketing and entrepreneurial management from the Carlson School of Management.

They both held corporate careers for several years; Keenan in the field of supply chain, and Tiegen at a start-up accelerator. After their first child, Isla, was born, Keenan reduced her workload to part-time. They both left their full-time jobs for good at the end of 2021.

Home Renovations

Before leaving gainful employment, however, the ambitious couple decided to try their hand at home renovations. Their first property was in the Twin Cities, a project of pure sweat equity.

“We did everything ourselves, including things like the drywall and tile work,” Tiegen said. “It was great because we learned so much about working together and working on a home,” Keenan added.

The sale of that first home was lucrative, allowing them to feather their nest egg enough to do it again. The next time, they bought a spacious, single-family home in Melbourne, Florida, sight unseen. They still own the Florida property, which they rent out on occasion.

Canal Park

In 2022, they found what Tiegen calls a “diamond in the rough” condo in Duluth’s Canal Park. It is located in the Meierhoff Building, also home to the Suites Hotel, Hoops Brewing, and Red Lobster. It had been on the market for years.

The 2,000-square-foot condo was spacious but very dated. At the time, the Bricksons had one child and another on the way. Despite this, they completely gutted the condo and renovated it themselves.

Pregnancy didn't stop Keenan Brickson from getting her hands dirty during the family's 5-month-long live-in renovation. Photo submitted.

“It took five months to renovate, and we lived there the entire time,” Keenan said. “It was dirty, dusty, and we had no kitchen. All we had was a mini fridge and a griddle. We ate a lot of meals at Old Chicago and Green Mill.”

All that hard work was worth the effort. Today, the home features high-end finishes, stainless appliances, granite countertops, and many more premier amenities. Guests can also enjoy the Suites Hotel’s on-site amenities, including a pool and hot tub. The Bricksons explain the aesthetic as “modern industrial while highlighting the history of Canal Park.”

The living spaces of The Brix's signature property, L'Etoile du Nord, are a nod to Minnesota's motto, which means "The Star of the North.” Photo submitted.

Sprawling across 2,000 square feet, L'Etoile du Nord features 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 living areas, a gourmet kitchen and a coffee bar.

Overlooking Duluth's hillside, the 10-seat kitchen island creates the perfect space for friends and family to gather. Photo submitted.

This beautiful condo is now rented out as an Airbnb, and it is extremely popular. The unit is called L'Etoile du Nord, which means “Star of the North” in French.

After a guest checks out, it’s time to hustle. The Bricksons’ property management company has a very limited time slot - of just six hours - to clean the property and complete any minor maintenance needed before the next guest checks in.

Tiegen explained a bit about their demographic. “I would say 75% of our guests are from the Twin Cities, and the rest are from places like Fargo, St. Cloud, and Eau Claire. Probably 95% are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.” With a spacious footprint of 2,000 square feet, the property can host large family gatherings, like wedding parties and graduations.

The Bricksons (who operate under the brand “The Brix”) have also begun managing other condo units within the building. And another exciting adventure is on the horizon for them: they recently purchased the 3rd floor of the “I Love Duluth” building (located at 345 Canal Park Drive), and renovations are underway to turn the former 3,000 square feet of office space into two luxury rental condos.

The Brickson family is in front of their next project - developing the office spaces at 345 Canal Park Drive into upscale vacation rentals. Photo submitted.

“This time, we hired out the work to a contractor,” Tiegen said with a chuckle. “We plan for them to be ready and available to rent this fall.”

As noted, while the couple would love to stay in their own condo when they visit Duluth, it is more lucrative for them to continue renting it out to guests and find housing elsewhere. They’ll rent a home in Duluth’s East Hillside neighborhood this summer.


With a 3-year-old daughter, Isla, a 1-year-old son, Jett, and baby #3 due in October, the Bricksons stay immensely busy between parenting and running their business. But on the rare occasion they have some downtime, they enjoy things like golfing and trying Duluth restaurants. Some of their favorites are Vitta Pizza, Social House, and Love Creamery—all Canal Park businesses, of course.

“It’s really great to be in Canal Park alongside so many other amazing businesses,” Tiegen said. “There’s always something going on to make this a place worth visiting.”

Rewarding Work

The blood, sweat, and tears they’ve invested in real estate have been immensely rewarding for the Bricksons. Financially, yes, but in many other ways, too.

“We get so much enjoyment out of having other people staying at our condo,” Tiegen said. “We love being able to offer a place to host so many memories for people. Ultimately, we want The Brix to be synonymous with vacation rentals in Canal Park.”

For more information, please visit, or find them on Instagram at the.brix.duluth.


Andrea Busche is a Duluth + regional freelance writer and small business owner. She is credited with over 1,000 bylines in local print and digital publications, and has been a frequent contributor to Destination Duluth since 2017.


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