One of the greatest things in life is not only making new friends but watching your friends go through life-altering changes that round them out to become a beautiful, confident human being. Lauren possessed these traits from the start but, most recently, it's been a fun evolution to observe her cross country move with her beau, get married, buy their first home, dive into a new career path and for the finale...become a mother to a delicious, little baby girl.
Smart, gutsy and efficient...yep, Lauren has all those traits. I should know...I met her after the birth of my second daughter whilst working for a start up out of Cali. Right from the start, I appreciated her way with C-level peers and her ability to stand her ground; speak her mind. More importantly, Lauren went from a successful marketing career, flipped the switch and dove head first into real estate, which, admittedly; left me scratching my head at first but as I watched it all gel together, it became very apparent just how brilliant a move it was. She's flipped boring, residential RE marketing on its head and put her own unique spin on it that. Now everyone wants to copy her approach! I'll shut up and let her tell you more...it's a a really cool story!
Tell us a little about Neighborhooding and the mission of your brand. How hard was it to get started? More importantly, restaurant marketing to the real estate biz...give us the deets!
Basically, Neighborhooding is the opposite of one of those Realtor ads on the side of a bus, begging for people to call a random 800 number. For me, it’s all about adding value. I know if I’m doing that well, the clients will come--and they do! Neighborhooding adds value for my clients and the broader community through home tours and interviews with Chicagoans about why they live where they live.
Going from advertising/marketing/corporate communications to real estate isn’t as weird as you would think. When I worked in advertising (on the account team for Kraft Foods at FCB), I learned the art of client management, which is a skill I use multiple times per day. During my years in marketing and corporate communications, I learned how to use the internet to sell stuff, which I also do all day every day!
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur let alone in the real estate industry?
I can’t tell you how many nights of sleep I lost when we were buying our first home (a townhome on the border of Ravenswood and Andersonville) because we didn’t know what we were doing. During one of those sleepless nights I decided there had to be a better way, and started studying for my real estate exam the next day. From a shotty inspector, to a day-long closing to hidden surprises once we got into our home, we saw it all. It didn’t make sense to me that the people specialized in making the process smooth, educational and dare I say enjoyable, weren’t better. I tap into these memories on a daily basis as inspiration for what not to do, and how to make things smoother for my clients.
Working as the corporate communications director at ChowNow (where Johanna and I met!), was where I got my first taste of what it would be like to start my own business. I started working there when our office was a glorified garage (so cliche, but true), and the mentality was all hands on deck, all the time--nights, weekends--we did whatever it took, and I loved it. Today, ChowNow services thousands upon thousands of restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
2. What one Neighborhooding moment are you the most proud of and why?
Can I say two? Luckily I get to relive my proudest moments frequently, which is just about the most amazing thing ever. The first is anytime I sit at the closing table with clients who are either selling their home and making a sizable chunk of change or buying the home of their dreams. What a privilege to be part of the process. The second is whenever someone tells me that Neighborhooding taught them something new.
3. How would you describe a typical day?
The best days start with a snuggle from my baby girl and a tall cup of coffee. The rest of the day happens in no particular order, but always includes:
- Checking in/meeting with clients
- Scheduling/attending showings/appraisals/inspections
- Meeting with my team (I work with the BEST mortgage broker, inspector and lawyer)
- Writing content for Neighborhooding and keeping up with my editorial calendar
- Reviewing current market activity
- Consulting with other brokers: I’ve recently started working with other brokers to help build their online marketing strategies
I always end the day with a long bath time for Sher, and then dinner with my husband.
4. How do you describe your personal aesthetic?
Why is this such a hard question?! If I could wear anything for the rest of my life it would be cut off jeans (reduce, reuse, recycle!), a tank and these sneakers. I get so many compliments on them and they are basically the most comfortable shoe ever created. When cut off jeans aren’t appropriate, I’m most likely in something off the sale rack at J Crew.
5. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you?
I actually find so much inspiration from the Fearless Friday series, and have had the pleasure of working with some of your features including Samantha Berngard. My inspiration cup runneth over whenever I look at her home tour photos.
Otherwise, from her take no prisoners mentality to her personal style to her outlook on motherhood, Michelle Obama is my forever girl crush and role model. And also Lena Dunham, who kills it at life without taking it too seriously. Sometimes I need to check myself!
6. If you weren't in the real estate industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
Anthony Bourdain, but without the previous drug addiction and only if my family traveled with me.
7. It's creative time...what's on your music playlist? What inspires you?
Country! People are always shocked that I love country, but it’s true! I married a small town Kansas boy, so I feel it’s my duty! All time favs include Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain if I want to throw it back.
Other sources of inspiration:
- My daughter and husband
- Other local entrepreneurs
- Chicago! I love the energy here. People always say that about New York, but having lived there, I will take our clean streets and friendly people any day.
8. Favorite restaurant on a Friday night + why?
Our neighborhood’s restaurant scene is totally blowing up, so we never have to venture far. If we can get a sitter, you will usually find my husband and I at the chef’s table at Gather. Why? The Cured Salmon. I believe it’s the only item that never leaves the menu and it’s just beyond. If you go, stop by on the early side and grab seats at the chef’s table for what feels like a fun private cooking lesson.
9. Wine or classic cocktail?
I don’t discriminate. My husband is very handy with a cocktail shaker, so I really never go thirsty. My recent favorite creation is a gin + lemon + peach preserves + fresh sage creation.
10. Favorite weekend getaway destination?
Traverse City, Michigan! It’s a long drive, but so worth it. One of our best friends co-owns Traverse City Whiskey Co., so we try to get up and visit at least once a summer.
11. Bonus question - 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
- Docusign: I’m not sure how brokers survive without it
- Waze: For the fastest route to anywhere
- Podcasts: Can’t live without them!
- The Wonder Weeks: For when baby girl is mysteriously cranky
- Instagram/Facebook: For work and fun
12. What's next for Neighborhooding and Lauren?
Keep on keeping on! My goal is never to grow my client base beyond a size that inhibits my ability to provide the best possible client service. Instead, I strive to find better, more efficient and exciting ways of serving.