On behalf of International Women’s day, CY & Co. decided to find powerful voices in Toronto to showcase the power of Women and what we can do! CY & Co. fully supports our audience and members in our community to express themselves in their truest forms. Our jewelry is made by many artisans locally and abroad and shared through us, for you, so we can join our passion for style and beauty and still power walk into any situation and come out winning.
Our first feature for this month is Nasma Ali, Founder and CEO of One Group Toronto Real Estate. Nasma is not only changing the face of realty in Toronto but making a point to showcase the beauty of the industry. She shares insider tips via entertaining Instagram worthy stories to new and prospective buyers. My story with Nasma began four years ago when I was looking to lease an apartment. Though our professional relationship ended our personal relationship grew for me through her interactive and nail-biting stories on social media. Leaving watchers hooked and on the line, she educates and brings a sense of joy and playfulness to realty that is otherwise all business and quite mundane. I sat down to ask her a few questions on how she started her journey and what new and seasoned entrepreneurs need to hear.
When asked about being a specialist in her field, Nasma told me the story of how she started. Being an engineering university graduate she started her career in the IT industry and sat at her desk all day. She quickly realized her 9-5 job was keeping her down and shackled to her desk. There was no flexibility, and she felt as if she was at the bottom of the food chain at her company. She waited for her managers to recognize that she had the skills to be client facing and could help in other ways to bring value to her current company, but they never did. After all they were also working their 9-5 mundane jobs. When she found herself with kids in daycare and no flexibility in her schedule, she began to think about what would give her the freedom she so craved. There was a list she made that she wanted in her next career; flexibility, client facing, growth and of course being her own boss. That’s when she thought seriously about realty and began to take classes to achieve this accomplishment. At no time was there a thought of, ‘what would make me rich?’ This was all passion that she turned to profit.
To become a specialist in her field and to start her career, she began with YES! She said yes to every opportunity to gain experience. Nasma’s first year was a race to learn as much as possible, as fast as possible. She started with leases, warm leads and showings; working more than her 9-5 and waking up and going to sleep thinking about realty.
This led me to my next question of what failure she was most fond of and what it taught her. Nasma is made of the true entrepreneur spirit because she told me for every 10 wins people see there have been 500 failures. Instead of winning, she was losing and she was doing it hard and fast at the start. Losing business is something that happens that makes you as a realtor take a step back. She was working constantly and with the nature of the job is not paid hourly but on commission. In 9 months, she made $3000 and it was beginning to weigh heavy on her. “When you’re self-employed you have to learn to adapt, nothing is guaranteed,” she told me coolly. Support is especially important at this phase and as much as her family and friends wanted to support her, they didn’t know why she wasn’t succeeding. She was working hard, all day long and yet nothing was coming out as profit. These are the moments in an entrepreneur’s life that you must be your own support system.
Failures kept coming. They ranged from showing houses to clients and their mortgage not being approved to much bigger situations. Here is her biggest and most memorable failure to date...She took on a client that was a close friend who was looking at a specific location. She thought this was a slam dunk; she picked her friend and her mom up and drove them around the city, at one point even waiting hours for them. When they finally chose the house they wanted, Nasma was on it. She received the approval from the client and when she was to make the offer, she realized that it was taken over night. Confused, she went to her client and let her know the disappointing news that someone else had got the house. This is when Nasma's friend let her know she had used another realtor and friend to lock in the lease. Someone who did none of the work but reaped all the rewards. Hurt, dishevelled and feeling betrayed Nasma knew that this decision would result in her not receiving her commission, thus losing once again. She felt completed defeated and wanted to quit. “It felt like every door was slamming in my face, it felt like failure.” She told me that if she gave up in that moment she wouldn’t be where she is today and she kept going. With failure and loss, you can’t expect handouts, you’re going to lose and you’ll have to be okay with that, that began to be her motto. She didn’t give up and didn’t dwell, but instead took it as a learning experience to how she could be better.
Realty is ripe with competition and I asked Nasma how she faces it and how she embraces it. When she was new to her field, she would never lead on that she was inexperienced. Instead she would try to give the best service she possibly could to any client that came to her. This is a mistake most young and new realtors make; they compare themselves to more experienced sales people and duck out of opportunities they could have dominated. The only person she competes with is herself. It all comes down to her clients and how they feel about working with her. She wants to build trust and comfort, knowing that they are in good hands. To embrace competition her advice is to see what your competition is doing better than you and focusing on how you can improve. How are you advancing?
I asked her then which choice she made that no one else believed in and she told her it was to start her own team. Some people in the industry were working for 30+ years and still didn’t have a team. This was something that Nasma was passionate about, having a team built by her which included the best and brightest people who wanted the best for their clients. She followed her gut and now has more than 9 team members working with her. If she listened to the naysayers then she wouldn’t have built all that she has. Her advice for future entrepreneurs is to START! Stop waiting for one day, today is the day. From all her stories, she speaks about consistency, to keep going and to sacrifice your shopping and partying to build something bigger. “Excuses or results, you can’t have both. It’s a one man show, be consistent”, inspiring words shared by a true leader in her field.
Our team at CY & Co. are elated to share these stories of women who are dominating in their fields. As a company, we work hard to unite artisans through their jewelry businesses so that they get the exposure and recognition under one voice and one brand they can resonate with. People who are able to express themselves without hiding and that is the community we want to build with your support. Share with us your stories of adversity and how you overcame them, we want to hear from you.
Lead Content Strategist