Erica Smith; Toronto; @condochickstoronto
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I would definitely say I’m a matchmaker between buyers and sellers.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I started my post secondary education in Athens, Greece where I studied business. After three years, I finished up my degree at York University.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
Believe it or not I was a model. I travelled all through Europe and Asia shooting catalogues and commercials. It was a great opportunity to travel and see the world. It really opened my eyes up to different cultures—which has translated into helping me in business today.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
In 2008, I was hired alongside Lorena Magallanes to sell what was at the time, one of the largest condominium projects in Toronto. This really helped us to understand the condo process from beginning to end. It was during this period that Lorena and I started planning our future business.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out.
When we came up with the name Condo Chicks, we really had to work on the logo in order to ensure that we were respected in the industry. Once we started getting media attention, we knew we had a catchy and marketable brand.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
I’ve definitely learned that it takes time to realize who really supports you. In the past, I surrounded myself with individuals that didn’t have the motivation or drive to push forward—the first person to come up with a problem, but the last person to come up with a solution. Starting your own business is not easy. It takes time, patience and nurturing. It’s important that your team believes in what you’re doing and will do anything to get there.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Always look at the big picture and the long term. Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up on one minor detail but in the big picture it really carries no weight.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
When I was told to quit chasing dreams in a “male industry” it only made me want to succeed more.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
The pre-construction condo and home industry truly is a male dominated field. But I think that the industry is starting to really understand the value that women can bring to the table in business.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
Our income is definitely fair. Lorena and I understand how fortunate we are to make a great living doing what we love most.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
That all millennials are lazy. I actually think we’re living in a more competitive environment and it’s harder to make ends meet.