We have some exciting news here at BRG! Our incredible Director of Operations, Jane, just got her real estate license! We are so proud of her and excited for all the new skills she will share with clients—though the license itself is really just an added bonus since she already does ALL THE THINGS here at BRG! To celebrate the news, we did a quick, fun interview with Jane to get the full down low on the past, the present, and all that’s in store.
You have major foodie tendencies, and had a big career in hospitality prior to starting in real estate. Where did you work?
I graduated from Kendall College with a degree in Food & Beverage Management. From there, I worked for Boka Restaurant Group at Girl & the Goat, Boka and for Boka Catering. I was doing a combination of event planning, on-site management, hosting, and administrative work. I loved seeing Boka grow so rapidly and learned a ton, but really wanted to dip my toes into hotels. I ended up getting a concierge position at the Four Seasons in the city and it was such an amazing opportunity. To work in a five star, five diamond hotel was definitely a learning experience. I was handling requests of all types, and it was also a way for me to learn more about what Chicago has to offer on a very specific level.
You must have had some pretty interesting requests while working as the concierge at the Four Seasons. What was the funniest request you ever got from a guest?
Oh man! Yes, I definitely got some requests that blew my mind – but of course, accommodated to the best of my ability! A good one I got was someone asking to take a cupcake tour of the city entirely by horse. I thought he was joking when he first asked me to help, but I quickly realized he wasn’t. I had to explain to him that he could only take a horse so far…because it’s a horse. He didn’t love that answer, but I ended up meeting him in the middle with a cupcake tour (on a bus!), and then a carriage ride by horse at sunset. It ended up being a great night for them, and I was so happy I could make it work!
Why did you decide to make the switch to real estate?
It actually kind of fell in my lap. I was at the Four Seasons and got a call from a recruiter for a position on a large real estate team at Coldwell Banker. The job was handling all the scheduling requests for the listed properties. I interviewed with my now best friend, Micheal, and it seemed like a nice change of pace from what I was doing at the hotel. I decided to take the leap and see what would happen. I was able to rotate into a few different roles during my 2+ years with that team, and realized that real estate is my niche! About two years ago I joined Julie, and helped build what Busby Realty Group is today.
What commonalities do you see between your hospitality experience and working in real estate?
Too many! Ultimately, the goal is the same: get the client what they want by using my skills, resources and experience. Another big aspect is the emotional similarities. Buying or selling a home can bring up a basket of emotions whether it’s sadness, excitement or nervousness. The same goes when someone checks into a hotel or sits down for dinner. I never know what someone may be going through at that time, so I need to adjust my communication to match the client’s situation.
What were you doing at BRG prior to getting your license and what is a typical day for you now?
I am so excited I got my license after working in real estate for the past few years, but my day-to-day job is staying pretty much the same. Right now, I am the Director of Operations for our team of six. I do a bit of everything, including helping to list properties, and make sure we never miss a detail or deadline throughout the sales process. I also help the team with trainings and ongoing projects so that we are always moving forward. I wanted to get my license so that I can help my friends and family when they are ready to sell or buy. My team is more than capable and willing to help my referrals, but I wanted the opportunity to be there first hand, and really assist with the process from beginning to end.
What is your favorite part of working in real estate?
I really enjoy seeing people’s homes. Where you live can reveal a lot about a person and I like having the opportunity to see so many different sized and priced homes in so many of Chicago’s neighborhoods. I have learned over time to never assume what a home looks like inside from the outside, and I love that about real estate. A home is literally a blank canvas to make it your own, and it’s always interesting to me to see what people do with the space. I like walking through a home during an inspection with the buyers and hearing about all that they plan on doing and then being able to see it a year later to see how it all turned out—it makes the job really fun!
So many foodie questions for you and for your husband James, Chef at The Chicago Club!
1) What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
This is honestly the hardest question! I am the type of person who has different favorites depending on what I am looking for in a particular meal. My favorites also couldn’t be more different from one another. I love Gibson’s – classic Chicago steakhouse, perfect for a steak and martini. I also love Kai Zan, a modern take on Japanese food with a focus on sushi. It’s really unassuming from the outside, but inside it’s warm and inviting, and we always like to sit at the sushi bar and interact with the chefs. It’s also where we went on our first “fancy date” and then later got engaged, so it definitely holds a place in our hearts.
2) What is the best thing James makes for you?
I get this question a lot! We love cooking together, and I often call him MY sous chef in the kitchen! There is one dish that he doesn’t let me help him make though, and it’s his version of Pad See Ew. It’s crispy chow fun noodles with tons of fresh veggies. He goes to the Vietnamese markets in Uptown to get fresh, hand-cut noodles with an array of vegetables. It’s sweet, spicy and sour and is perfect no matter what the weather is outside.
3) What's your favorite baby-friendly restaurant in Chicago?
We discovered a great place in Uptown called 3 Squares Diner about a year ago and have since been a bit obsessed. We started going there when I was pregnant with Harper and it was actually the first restaurant we took her to after she was born. It has a cool history to it, as it was actually a diner back in the 1920’s in the same building – the Lawrence House. It’s super art deco meets modern, and same goes with the food. They make literally everything from scratch in house, and it’s beyond delicious. Whenever we go in there, they are always super accommodating with Harper and they love watching her grow. There is always a nice mix of people in there, ranging from singles at the counter, to families stuffed into the vintage looking booths – I highly recommend!
Favorite Chicago neighborhood:
Andersonville! I love how it feels like a suburb within the city. It’s nice all year round and definitely has that community vibe. In the summer especially, we always find ourselves in the neighborhood walking around and checking out the antique stores and locally owned businesses. Plus, there are some awesome restaurants lined up along Clark that are perfect for an afternoon snack on the patio (awesome people watching!).
Cash transactions are always the fastest! We did one where it went from active to closed in just about 10 days!
Favorite home decor store:
I love Home Goods! I always end up coming home with yet another basket or jar that we definitely don’t need, but somehow make it work in our condo. They also unexpectedly have a really big pet toy selection, so I usually grab a toy (or two…three) for Daisy.
Favorite part of working at BRG:
My team – 100%! We are definitely a tight knit crew. We have become super close over time and tend to hangout on nights and weekends as friends, not just coworkers. Julie has become one of my closest friends, and is always there for me whether I am calling about a client question at seven in the morning, or if it’s ten at night and I need advice on something having to do with Harper. I love that I work on a team of strong, independent women, and it definitely shows in our work ethic. I feel so blessed!
Favorite client -- kidding!
I plead the fifth on this one!
Cutest thing Harper is doing right now:
This is such a mom answer, but it’s smiling! She has these tiny two teeth along the bottom of her mouth that stick out every time she cracks a smile. I literally cannot get enough. I feel like a crazy person doing anything I can to get her to smile and I think she knows that, so she let’s me dance around and tickle her as much as I can until she finally gives in.
Thank you, Jane! Truthfully, Jane hit in on the head—our team is everything here at BRG. There is nothing better than watching our team grow and flourish as we work to be the best real estate brokers in Chicago!