Empowering Women in Real Estate with WCAR

May 14, 2024 at 01:54 pm by RMGadmin

Jennifer Bickerstaff & Brandi Thigpen

Empowering Women in Real Estate:

Insights from Jennifer Bickerstaff and Brandi Thigpen

In the vibrant landscape of Williamson County, where entrepreneurship and professional growth thrive, the real estate sector stands as a testament to women's empowerment. In a candid conversation with Jennifer Bickerstaff, President-Elect of WCAR, and Brandi Thigpen, WCAR's 2024 President, we delve into their journeys, experiences, and advice for aspiring female professionals and entrepreneurs.
How did you decide that real estate was the profession for you? Why are you passionate about this industry?
JB: I found my calling in Real Estate after a fulfilling career as a Registered Nurse. My passion for helping people, combined with my exposure to the construction industry through my dad's business and his best friend being a Home Builder, inspired me to obtain my real estate license and I start assisting in his new communities. I thrive on building connections and appreciate the freedom that comes with being a Realtor, even though it means always being available for my clients. I love watching my clients' hopes and dreams become a reality and the new lifelong friendships that accompany being a Realtor.
BT: Real estate wasn't always the plan for me, but the flexibility it offered was incredibly appealing. Being able to set my schedule meant I could prioritize time with my then young kids, which was a huge factor for me. The ability to structure my workday around my life, rather than the other way around, was a major perk. But what truly surprised me was how much I enjoyed the industry itself. Building relationships with clients and helping them find their dream homes, or secure the perfect investment property, became incredibly fulfilling. There's a genuine human connection in this business that I find incredibly rewarding.
How have you witnessed the real estate industry become more supportive of women professionals? What has been your experience as a woman in real estate?
JB:I became a Realtor in 1997 specializing in New Construction. The construction industry is male-dominated, and I have always felt accepted and respected by my male bosses and co-workers. In 1908 when NAR (National Association of Realtors) was founded, it was 100% male, however, today (as of 2022) it is 62% women according to NAR. I think we have "come a long way baby".
BT: I've been in the real estate industry since 2014, and during that time, I've seen a very positive shift towards women. Sure, there might be an occasional off-hand comment here and there, but overall, the industry feels incredibly supportive and empowering. There are so many resources and organizations focused on helping women succeed in real estate, which is fantastic. Additionally, there are more and more women in leadership positions now! It shows that the industry is recognizing the value we bring and opening doors for future generations.
Could you share a memorable moment where your leadership as a woman positively impacted your real estate journey?
JB: Actually, I am currently working with three of my dearest girlfriends and helping them navigate selling and/or buying Real Estate. As single females, they trust me to help guide them through the process which sometimes can be very stressful but so exciting. The biggest compliment is helping your best friends navigate through one of the biggest decisions they have in front of them.
BT: As a woman in real estate, I've encountered a few challenges, but one moment stands out where I hope my leadership truly made a difference. It involved a dear client and friend who'd bravely escaped an abusive marriage. She found love again with a wonderful man (also a friend!), and they were ready to build a new life together. Selling her old home, filled with painful memories, and finding their dream house was crucial. The transaction itself was a rollercoaster. There were hurdles, and getting to closing felt like a minor miracle. But when we finally did - when the paperwork was signed on both the sale of her old home and the purchase of their new one brimming with promise - the look on her face was priceless. It wasn't just about the house; it was about seeing her empowered, stepping into a future filled with joy. That day, my leadership wasn't just about real estate; it was about supporting a woman's journey towards healing and happiness.
How do you strike a balance between your leadership role and personal life, and do you have any amusing stories or tips to share?
JB: Balancing a leadership role with personal life can be challenging but achievable with the right strategies. First, it's important to set boundaries and prioritize tasks to ensure that work doesn't encroach on personal time. Delegating responsibilities to capable team members can alleviate the workload and allow for more personal time. Additionally, effective time management, such as scheduling dedicated family time and self-care, is crucial. Communication with both your team and friends/family about your availability and commitments is also essential. Lastly, fostering a supportive and understanding work culture can make it easier to navigate the demands of leadership while maintaining a fulfilling personal life.
BT: Being a leader is rewarding, but it's important to remember the "why" behind your work. In my case, empowering people through homeownership fuels my drive. This passion translates to my family life - I've fit in countless house tours between soccer games and baseball practices. It's a chance to show my kids that hard work can achieve great things, and that helping others is an important part of life. At home, we openly discuss the importance of balance. We talk about how even though I work hard, it's equally important to recharge. My favorite tip to share is to schedule downtime in your calendar, just like you would a meeting. Treat it seriously and use that time to disconnect and recharge. A refreshed leader is a more effective leader.
This is the Ladies issue for Your Williamson, what advice would you give to female professionals/entrepreneurs who have aspirations to grow their own business?
JB: For female entrepreneurs looking to grow or start a business in Williamson County, it's essential to take advantage of the supportive community and resources available in the area. Networking with other local business owners, joining business organizations, and seeking mentorship from established entrepreneurs can provide valuable guidance and connections. Additionally, as a Realtor, staying informed about local regulations, market trends, and consumer preferences in Williamson County will help in making informed business decisions. Embracing the unique opportunities and challenges of the area, while staying true to your vision and values, will contribute to the success and growth of your business.
BT: For our Williamson County female entrepreneurs, remember growth is a journey, not a destination. Focus on building a strong foundation with a clear vision and financial plan. Network with other inspiring women and seek out mentors. Embrace your unique strengths and don't be afraid to ask for help. With dedication and a supportive network, you'll be well on your way to turning your vision into a thriving business.
Now, time for some rapid fire questions! 
Favorite Williamson County restaurant?
JB: Since it's Crawfish season - it has to be Cajun Steamers otherwise, Red Pony or Sperrys
BT: Bestia Mare. Their clam linguine is to die for!
Song you have on repeat right now (or artist)?
BT: Anything by Zach Bryan!
Go-to coffee spot, and what is your order?
JB: Well, I am not a coffee drinker - but I am at Sonic or Chick-fil-A EVERY DAY for a ROUTE 44/LARGE DIET COKE!!
BT: Large (yay caffeine!) coffee with 1 stevia and a splash of almond milk
Best Hidden Gem spot, restaurant, or location in Williamson County?
JB: Sunsets in Fernvale in my jeep with my pups every evening
BT: I'm a Grassland native and Barbara's Home Cooking is a local favorite that serves up delicious Southern fare. Get their poppyseed chicken -- you won't regret it!
To learn more about the Williamson County Association of Realtors, head to wcartn.org.