I’m a real estate agent, primarily for the West Side of Manhattan.
Before having kids, I designed and ran a handbag line—handmade pieces that were preppy and edgy at the same time. At first, I made each piece myself; when the line started to gain traction, I learned about outsourcing. My bags were carried in more than 100 small boutiques around the world and a handful of larger department stores. They were regularly featured in fashion magazines. It was a lot of fun to grow a small collection and build a following.
It was also constant work—presenting to buyers, writing orders. I was always working on new ideas and making adjustments, so there was never time to relax. And I was catering to at least four sets of clients: shop buyers, direct consumers on my website, overseas sales reps, and press.
Before kids, I enjoyed every part of it. I met so many fabulous people. I still keep in touch with designers I met back then, and one of my dearest friends is a woman who interviewed me for a fashion blog. It was exciting, but also unpredictable, a real rollercoaster. I’d be at a trade show, stressing that I wouldn’t earn back the cost of my booth. Then a boutique on my fantasy list would write a large order, and I’d be on Cloud 9.
After the kids came along, my priorities shifted. At the beginning, I could happily talk about the bags for hours, and if a store were to call and order twenty pieces, it was the best day ever. Toward the end, when that order came in, I saw it more as a chore than a reason to celebrate. Also, Etsy had launched, and the novelty of the cool NYC indie designer had worn off.
I had identical twins and wanted to focus on being a mom. We moved from our rental in the West Village and bought a home on the Upper West Side; I enjoyed getting to know the new neighborhood. And by the time the boys got to first grade, I was ready to get to work again. I knew I didn’t want to go to an office every day, and I knew that I was good at working with various types of clients. The agent we worked with in buying our apartment had told me she thought I’d be great at her job. I decided to try it out.
There’s a sense of camaraderie I feel with the community of Upper West Side brokers, similar to what I felt with my fellow indie designers. And when I get a listing ready to go live, prepping the marketing materials feels a lot like when I used to put together line sheets for my collection. Working with buyers to find the right home is not so different from working with shop owners and buyers to figure out which of my pieces would sell well in their stores.
Most of my business is on the Upper West Side, although I have the occasional listing elsewhere in the city. When I represent the seller of an apartment in a neighborhood I know well, I’m able to add a lot of value. I love being able to make the experience smooth and stress-free for my clients.
Interviewed on December 17, 2018