With all the talk of inflation, heightened interest rates, and a recession looming, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially after pushing through the hardships of a pandemic. If you can find inspiration and motivation to keep pushing through, just take a cue from someone whose mantra screams empowerment and fortitude no matter what life throws at us as Black women.
"We had a conference [recently] and one of our speakers said ‘You are your own economy.’ And I’m of the mindset, after working with coaches and being around people who are moving heavy in their industries, that we are our own economy," said Makeda Smith, CEO of Savvy Chicks In Real Estate, a Plainfield, IL-based marketing agency that offers community, events, coaching, and resources for women in the industry. "The economy may say that we’re looking at increased prices, but what are you going to do to meet the challenge?"
Women are finding financial freedom and empowerment through pursuing careers and businesses in real estate, representing 65% of realtors. (And it's notable that single women, in particular, are leading in homeownership, at 19%, compared with 9% of single men.)
Smith has built a lucrative career in real estate, becoming a multi-million-dollar producer and top-seller in her market. "It's from my hard work that I already put in the industry, being a top producer, that I’ve made an impact in the industry. Now, I’m able to take that same drive and shift it to help women in the business.
She is now working to ensure that Black women in the industry are able to leverage all opportunities to not only build wealth for themselves but also for those in their communities as well.
We talked more with Smith about how she got started, what has kept her passionate about the industry after almost two decades in the business, and how women can tap into a lucrative career despite the current economic climate:
Carl Ankrum of The Media MD
xoNecole: How did you get started working in real estate?
Makeda Smith: I got licensed in 2004, and it was after my husband had pestered me to go and get my license. He thought it would be a good opportunity for me to start a new career. I was coming out of [a career in] customer service. It was a completely different industry, and I wasn’t thinking about real estate until he pushed me. Eighteen years later, I’m still a licensed agent.
We launched our own brokerage in 2011. Then, in 2017, I launched my marketing agency to help women in real estate build their brands. It just came full circle.
xoN: What keeps you going after so many years in the industry, especially with the housing market's ups and downs?
MS: In the early years, [I had] the ability to help a family or an investor to purchase and sell real estate and have that be part of their wealth portfolio. Now, I’m passionate about helping the agents who have just started out in business or those who have been in business but [are] stuck and can’t get over a certain revenue hump. We have the inflation rate and gas prices are high, but people will always need a place to live and there's always opportunities.
Let's say last year, I was working with people who had a price point to where they couldn't get over showing people homes that may have been at $150,000. Those homes are $200,000 and $250,000, so a lot of the agents’ incomes are going up because the property values are moving up. It’s not like 2008 [during the Great Recession].
Carl Ankrum of The Media MD
xoN: It's good you mentioned that because some women might be a bit apprehensive about getting into real estate due to what's going on in the economy right now.
MS: If you’re a new agent coming into the business, it’s no different than when I got into it in 2004. You have to find your lane and you have to go hard in that lane. You have to have a strategy and a plan. Then you have to have a made-up mind that 'I'm going to go for this.’ Figure out how you are going to carve your own space within the saturated market. It was saturated in 2004, it was saturated in 2008, and it’s saturated now.
"If you’re a new agent coming into the business, it’s no different than when I got into it in 2004. You have to find your lane and you have to go hard in that lane. Figure out how you are going to carve your own space within the saturated market. It was saturated in 2004, it was saturated in 2008, and it’s saturated now."
A lot of people are saying that these are times that we will find people leaving the industry, but then you will find out what agents are really made of — those who stay in the industry, who find a way around the noise and distractions.
xoN: How do you carve a niche, though? What actions did you take?
MS: I did not sell traditional real estate. I said, 'Okay, how can I get more listings faster so that I am not doing as much legwork to find new clients?' I began to study and figure out how I could work with a bank like Chase, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac who already had a bulk of listings and say hey I’d like to be your go-to agent. If you have any foreclosures in your area, I’d love to be your broker on that.' And that’s how I became a top producer. In 2007, when I made top-earner status, I had to bring my husband on in because I couldn't handle all of it myself.
Then we both made at least $100,000 each. We had never ever seen anything like that in our lifetime.
Carl Ankrum of The Media MD
xoN: Some of us struggle with networking and forging relationships. How were you able to do so with the housing and banking institutions?
MS: It's not as easy as people say. I went to a conference in Dallas and it was geared toward businesses that had assets. I said, 'If I could just get in front of them, give them my pitch, and bring them what I have to the table, let’s see if they’ll give me a chance.' I just started showing up at all of these different conferences. I’d hit up reps over and over again. The one thing I would say that worked is that time when I followed up with Freddie Mac over and over. They kept telling me no.
Then the rep finally came through with that yes. She gave me 50 listings that [they] can give you at one time and I was blown away. I finally heard that yes. I showed up where the people were. If it was me paying for a plane ticket plus a conference ticket and making sure I had money for food even when I was low on cash, I made that investment to show up where I needed to be for my ideal client. That’s how I became a top producer and my husband became a top producer.
"I showed up where the people were. If it was me paying for a plane ticket plus a conference ticket and making sure I had money for food even when I was low on cash, I made that investment to show up where I needed to be for my ideal client. That’s how I became a top producer and my husband became a top producer."
I always say, 'Stop being timid about your business.' Walmart is not timid about selling you their products or putting a commercial in your face. Target is not timid about helping you get into their stores to spend more of your money, so why are we timid when it comes to our own businesses? I don’t care if you are in your first $10,000 or half a million, we cannot afford to be timid about the businesses in which God has given us.
My mission is to help women in real estate have multiple streams of income that not only depends upon real estate transactions but you have digital products, courses Ebooks, and own paid events. Those are things that don’t teach you in real estate school and it's something I wish someone had done that for me. That keeps me going.
For more of Makeda, follow her on Instagram @makedasmithceo.
Featured image by Carl Ankrum of The Media MD
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As much as I talk about sex, this is a topic that I was excited to shed a spotlight on. Why? It’s simple, really. Despite how sexed — and sometimes it really does seem oversexed — that our culture and society may be, virgins are not extinct. Believe it or not, it’s been reported that around 27 percent of guys are still virgins when they first step foot on a college campus (as a freshman) and, globally, approximately 38 percent of people between the ages of 18-24 are still virgins too. And even though it’s not a ton of ‘em, there are still some virgins who are over 40 (I personally know three, although they declined to be interviewed for this article).
And even though it really does seem like, over the past 50-60 years or so, virginity has been looked at as something that should be ridiculed, side-eyed, or even flat-out dismissed, I don’t feel that way at all. Fourteen sex partners and many lessons later, I actually get that there are many perks that come with waiting. Not only that, but I’ve encountered enough virgins in my time to get that, like most things in life, virginity is not a monolith, there are tons of reasons why people choose not to have sex until later in life and, if there’s one thing that you can’t really “do over” (because no, there is no such thing as a “born-again virgin.” You lose your virginity ONCE) is “losing” your virginity (I prefer to say “giving.” You know where it is)— being careful and even uber-cautious about how and when your first time goes down is something that I very much so respect.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though. As someone who gave my “conscious virginity” (I am a survivor of molestation, which is why I put it that way) at 19, I wanted to hear from women of that age and older who still haven’t “partaken of the fruit” just yet. First, to give their journey a voice and second, to remind others who may not be so vocal about their own virginal sexual status that, no matter what social media may be yapping about, when it comes to the topic of virginity, they are certainly not alone — and there is definitely nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
*Per usual, when it comes to these types of interviews that I conduct, middle names have been used.*
“It’s not like I planned to be this age and still a virgin. When I was in high school, I thought I would be married by now. I’m not, and that’s why I’m still a virgin. Does this mean I’m waiting until marriage? I am. I don’t see the point in giving some man my all without that level of commitment. I personally admire women who can because I don’t have the emotional strength or mental stamina to go through that kind of stress or pain — especially multiple times. I just think there is already enough to worry about in life than if I’m gonna get an STD, get pregnant by someone I don’t want to deal with for the rest of my life, or even if some man is going to call the next day.
"And before y’all even start — yes, I know that marriage comes with risks too. But if a man is willing to pledge his life to me and sign a legal contract to prove it just to get some, I’d rather go that route than some dude I met at a club or a guy who I dated for a couple of months, and it didn’t work out. To each their own, and this is the way that I choose to do it.”
“I’ve always been called an old soul. I don’t think that 22 is old, but it is old, these days, to be a virgin. Some people assume that I’m one for religious reasons. Really, it’s because I’m observant, and my sisters and friends who already gave it up usually had more drama in their lives than anything. I just want my first time to be with someone who, when I look back on it, I don’t have regrets. I’m not looking for the perfect guy, but damn, can he at least not ghost me, give me an orgasm, and keep the moment to himself instead of telling all of his boys? I don’t think that’s too much to ask — and if it is…oh well.”
“The question I get asked all of the time is if I’m saving it for marriage. I am. I used to say that I was waiting until I got engaged or at least fell in love, but I have friends who did that, and months after they had sex, the guys were gone. I know that marriage doesn’t guarantee anything, but I have some other friends who were virgins on their wedding night, and their lives just seem to be less intense.
“Not having sex has shown the true colors and real agendas of a lot of guys, so while it does get lonely, being this way makes it easier to see who is serious about a relationship and who just wants to get their d — k wet. Virginity can be the ultimate male marriage material predictor. At least it’s been that way for me.”
“I almost gave it up to my first love, and ‘he’ didn’t happen until college. The break-up damn near turned me into a basket case, so that proved to me that I’m not really for a sexual relationship. I think the best way to explain it is, until I know that I can emotionally handle giving myself to someone and it possibly not working out, I need to stay just where I’m at…and I’m just not there yet.”
“The timing of this is crazy because I almost lost my virginity last weekend. It’s a long story, but I was going to give it to a guy friend because I want my first time to be with someone who I trust. We didn’t go through with it because he said that he didn’t want to chance me regretting it and it ruining our friendship. I think it’s interesting that it seems that men value a woman’s virginity more than women do these days. Anyway, all I know is it won’t be just some random guy. If I don’t trust you with my heart, you will never be able to have my body. My standard will definitely be someone who was my friend first.”
“I’ve been too busy to give up my virginity. Sounds crazy, but it’s still the truth. I’ve always been very career-driven, so after getting my master’s, I decided to do a lot of traveling and then buy a home. It’s probably been over the past few months that my sexual status has even crossed my mind because dating just hasn’t been a priority.
“I guess you can say that having a full life is why I’m a virgin. When I can fit a man into my schedule, and I find him just as stimulating as what I currently have going on, I can almost assure you that my sexual status will change. Until then…stamps on the passport are my orgasms.”
“I’ve had plenty of oral sex — not giving, receiving. Some people say that, technically, I’m not a virgin anymore, but I guess I’ll speak for the women who fall into my special situation. The reason why I’ve never gone down on a guy is because I want that to be reserved for the one [who] I first have intercourse with. The reason why several have gone down on me? You know how guys are — they see virginity as a challenge and will go the distance to be the first. If they wanna try, who am I to stop them?
"As far as what I’m waiting on…I don’t really see it as ‘waiting.' I am open to it. I just haven’t been with someone who seems like he is who I should give it to. I think that the guy who never brings sex up will probably be the one who piques my interest. I’m already a challenge. I think I’m looking for someone who is one, too.”
“I’m a virgin because I’m focused. There are too many women at my school who are so distracted because of what some guy is doing or didn’t do — and I don’t have the time. I want to be able to have my master’s degree before my 23rd birthday, and I’m on the way to making that happen. I haven’t told anyone this, but the present I want to give myself is losing my virginity for graduation. I think an orgasm for all of my hard work makes sense. I know who I want the guy to be, too. He doesn’t know. Hope he doesn’t blow it. I’ll try to keep you posted.”
“All of the holy books value virginity, and that’s why you will never be able to convince me that there is not a serious spiritual breakdown in our society. What used to be respected is now a so-called social construct, and to me, that sounds like so many people are so hyper-sexed with no real reason or purpose that they want to take the ‘misery loves company’ approach — that because they weren’t taught to value virtue and virginity, they want as many other people as possible to follow suit. That will never be me. Until I meet the man who is deserving of being the first and only to enter into my body and spirit, I will remain a virgin and very proud of it.”
“I honestly don’t know why I’m still a virgin. Remember how you told me [Shellie] that after the first couple of years of abstinence, you got pickier and pickier? That’s the way I’ve been all of my life. I’m sure that sex is amazing, but it’s also complicated, physically kind of messy, and exposes you to a world of stuff that you don’t have to think about when you’re a virgin. I’m not scared to have sex, but I’m not in a rush. Look at me — I’m sure I’ll open these legs up one day, but I’m not checking off the calendar or anything. When I have room to explore the good and bad of sex, I’ll be more aggressive about it.”
There you have it — proof that there are at least ten virgins on the planet who aren’t still in high school. And what I like about each of them is there is both a confidence and focus outside of their sexual status that serves as a great reminder that sex is a part of who we are yet…it’s certainly not everything. And you know what? It never was designed to be.
So yes, kudos to them for having a personal type of conviction, for whatever the reason, and standing by it.
Virgins or not, it’s a reminder that we all should be firm in our standards about…something.
Amen? 1000 percent.
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