BACHELOR'S DEGREES & BOTTLE SERVICE
Being a Realtor, one question I often get asked besides "How's the market? is "How did you get into real estate?" So, let me try and summarize how it all happened.
My Grandma, Dad, and Mom had all been Realtors at one point, but that didn't really have anything to do with how and why I got into the business myself. It kind of just happened organically on its own. And I always knew it was just a matter of time before my interior design ventures would cross paths with the real estate world.
So here's the backstory...
I was excited, optimistic, and ready to take the world by the horns. I felt like the sky was the limit because I had just graduated college with my Bachelor's in Interior Design. I felt sooooo accomplished and thought I was sooooo fancy because I officially held a college degree. But unfortunately, all that fanciness was short-lived.
The year this all went down was 2008. Yeah you know, the year the real estate market went timmmmmberrrr. You know, right in the middle of the whole housing crisis when everyone was in over their heads losing their homes, losing their minds, and had no need for design services nor had the funds to hire a designer. Yeah...so as proud as I was of this "fancy" degree of mine, I quickly learned it just didn't hold as much value as I thought it would.
I must've reached out to a dozen architectural firms asking if there was anything I could do to get an interview and if they would just give me a chance. I was convinced that if I could just get a little face-to-face time with them, they would recognize my hustle and then of course...hire me. But considering they could barely keep afloat themselves (recap: because of the rapidly tanking economy), the last thing they had on their minds was to hire and pay money they didn't have to an intern...a desperate college grad intern at that. So just like that, out went that idea, and my dreams of becoming a rising star designer were crushed.
With no luck scoring a design gig, I continued to work at the local bar I had been working all throughout college. Time flew by, a couple years had passed, and it was actually at that very establishment where the opportunity to work in real estate presented itself.
During my lengthy employment at that bar, I acquired a long list of regulars, some who happened to be some heavy hitters in the real estate industry. In other words, top agents that were doing very well for themselves.
They'd walk into the bar always put together (nicely dressed), pull up a seat, and our conversations would always start out as usual, "Hey, good to see you. How was your day? Good. How 'bout yours? Great. What can I get-chu to drink?"...and so on. And after numerous visits, the conversation eventually evolved into..."You know Nikki, you should really consider getting into real estate." And as I poured their drinks, I made that Deniro grin and thought to myself..."Hm. Why not? My heart is already in architecture and design. Makes sense if I were to."
Well, the same time that real estate offer was being put on the table, was also around the same time my bags were packed and ready to move to Las Vegas. Yes, Vegas. I practically lived there my entire 20's but that's a whole other story I will save for another time.
You see, I never had any luck landing a design job within that two year time period after I graduated college. And during that hiatus, I applied to numerous venues all over Sin City and had already been hired at one of the nightclubs to work bottle service. And boy oh BOY did it take me months of training in the gym and disciplining myself not to go to the taco truck to get my body "Vegas Ready." It was a brutal time for me mentally lol.
I already completed the food & beverage test, and acquired all the certificates, cards, and shots required by the state of Nevada to work in the hospitality industry over there. I even found the perfect two bedroom apartment for my English Bulldog Mochiball and I to live, in the quaint little community of Southern Highlands. I was suited and booted and ready to say "Sayonara LA. It's been real." But the real estate opportunity kept lingering in the back of my head introducing doubt into my Vegas plans. I was starting to have second thoughts, which ultimately made decision time that much harder.
I have always believed if you're not 100% sure about something, then most likely you should 100% not do it. Not in every case, but in this case. So I prayed about the move and had a long talk with God. And after going back and forth in my head about the pros and cons of staying versus going, I decided to stay.
I knew that if I had moved I would've been making ca$$$h money and fast, but at a price. That price being late hours, sleep deprivation, a scantily clad uniform, my health declining most likely from alcohol being regularly present in my bloodstream, and the worst price of all...dealing with large groups of intoxicated people, most of them acting "the-opposite" of a gentleman. I also knew the harsh reality of only having so much shelf-life in the "looks department" before I would eventually be replaced by a younger and more attractive female. But since I decided to stay, a different reality set in. That real estate reality.
I knew there would be a high chance I would have to endure years of struggle before seeing any real profit because all I was hearing from friends who dabbled in real estate was how hard it was and that they didn't make it passed the six month mark, some three months, and a couple of them didn't even last ONE MONTH...LMAO. I won't name names. But eventually, I brushed aside all my negative thoughts and proceeded to move forward with my decision, and let me tell you...I am SO happy I did.
Nearly five years later...here I am. I stayed. It's been hard. The struggle has been real, but I don't regret my decision for a second because I met my match. As cheesy as it sounds, I didn't choose real estate. Real estate chose me.
My interior design side found its Ying to its Yang, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world that I get to wake up every single day doing what I love...helping people.
And the icing on the cake? When I get to be a part of the design process too. In many cases, I get the best of both worlds. I get to help my seller's stage their homes, and I get to help my buyer's design theirs. It's a win win.
The saying is very true...when you do what you love, it's not work. It's pure happiness.
Sure there are tons of rough times being a Realtor, with a lot of unexpected craziness that occurs daily, and more ups and downs than any rollercoaster ride I've ever been on. But I LOVE IT...all the good AND the bad. And I am so glad I stayed, stuck with it, and that I get to work in what I believe has to be one of the greatest industries of all time.
There is no ceiling. There is no limit. What you put in is what you get out, and I can't think of any other industry that let's you make the amount of money needed to fund all your other passions. And I am a person that has MANY passions. Real estate is just one of them. You can learn more about me and my other passions here, throughout my website.
Moral of the story here, follow your gut. Because as they say..."Your gut knows what your head hasn't figured out yet.: And I'm so glad my gut figured it out here in Los Angeles, and not there in Las Vegas.
For more about my real estate business, please visit NikkiSellsLA.com (Nikki Sells LA Website Coming Soon)
7-YEAR OLD DESIGNER IN THE MAKING
I've written in previous blogs about how I got into interior design. So I'll try to sum it up once again.
It technically started when my dad got into real estate back in 89'. I was seven years old and was (and still am) a total daddy's girl. I used to be attached to him (literally) because I thought of him as my superhero/security blanket. Still do. He's an amazing father and best friend.
So every Sunday after church, my family had this routine where we'd get something to eat together or do some fun family activity, and then we would spend the rest of the day relaxing at home before the hectic week would start back up again the following day.
But I started to notice something. My dad's presence during this family time after church was becoming less and less. Instead of coming to brunch with us, he started doing these things called "open houses." My little 7-year old self didn't know what these "open houses" were. All I knew was I didn't like them because they were taking precious time away from me spending time with my dad.
I wasn't too excited about his new job as a real estate agent, and eventually started to demand he start taking me with him to these open houses, simply because I couldn't stand being away from him. Ironically, it was there at those open houses (that my 7-year old self hated), where I would discover my love for real estate and design.
I vividly remember my dad asking me the first time he brought me, "Are you sure you want to come with me instead of having fun hanging out with mom and your brother and sister? These open houses can be really boring sometimes." And I would reply with so much attitude and sass like "Daddy, I said I want to go with YOU." I'm sure most girls my age would've much rather been shopping at the mall with their moms. But no. Not this girl. I was happy as a clam hanging out with my pops in random people's homes.
So during these open houses, I would walk through the entire property like clockwork as my dad would tend to the visitors stopping by. I would go from room to room, dissecting each space with what I would personally do to make the room look better. My 7-year old brain would flood with design and demolition ideas of how I would knock down "that" north facing wall to make the adjacent area more open and so on.
At the time, being so young, I didn't know what the name was for a person that did these things I thought of doing but couldn't do myself (because I was only 7), but I knew in my little brain that if I could, I would transform each home he brought me to into something way better than it currently looked.
So I was very fortunate to know exactly what I wanted to go to college for after high school because I knew since I was in the 2nd grade.
I love interior design because it is my way of expressing my ever evolving variety of style...kind of like my fashion style. But instead of expressing my style through fashion by changing the clothing on my body, I express it with paint, wallpaper, light fixtures, fabrics, furniture, and decor. I guess you could say home decor and renovation materials are my way of expressing my style. And in many cases, helping my clients express their own style.
When it comes to design and home staging, I absolutely love what I do, and it shows in every space I get my hands on because it's been deep rooted since I was a little girl.
Please visit nextlevelinteriordesign.com for my design and staging portfolio.
THEY CALL ME THE QUEEN OF BLACK, WHITE, & GOLD
I feel like the DIY bug strikes every DIYer in a different way. For me, my DIY fixation all started with furniture.
I purchased my first piece of furniture off of Craigslist in 2007 and painted it black and white to match my favorite Interior Design style Hollywood Regency.
Before Kelly Wearstler (my favorite Interior Designer of ALL TIME) became a household name, Dorothy Draper was (and still is) The Queen of Hollywood Regency. I was in such awe over the black and white detailing of the doors I saw on the cover of a book about Draper's style called IN THE PINK, that it inspired me to paint the dresser I had just bought in black and white. I had never seen anything so architecturally striking, and the cover of that book hit me to my core and forever changed me. After seeing the results of my paint job on the dresser, there was no looking back. Design wise, I was hooked on ALL things black and white.
I then bought my second piece of furniture which was a vintage headboard. I painted it black, and then added ornate onlays and resin roses (I painted white) to complete the whole Draper look I was so obsessed with.
I was addicted to my new found love of revamping furniture. And it quickly evolved into other things beyond my usual black and white. I didn't just sand and paint anymore. I started to explore with color, change out hardware, stencil geometric shapes, add decorative molding and resin animal heads, put textured wallpaper on the back part of bookcases, and get things reupholstered.
I started to get attached to every single piece I got my hands on. And seriously who knew a person could get so emotionally attached to a piece of furniture! But when you put a lot of love and soul into a piece, I guess it's just what happens. Lucky for me, all my pieces went to loving homes and were sold to people who loved them just as much as I did. And it's been a fun time seeing "familiar" faces purchase my furniture revamps. I was pretty surprised to find out that celebrities shop on Craigslist too.
During this whole furniture revamp addiction (which I still have and will always have), I was in college for Interior Design, and one thing lead to another and my furniture revamps naturally lead to revamping interiors.
One thing I learned for sure though...I believe the transformation I do to furniture and interiors was not something I learned in school. Of course I had valuable training in the basics and fundamentals of design like space planning, computer and hand drafting, architectural lettering, the psychological effects of color, and fabric content, all of which contribute to my knowledge of architecture, proper terminology for period and furniture styles, and so forth.
But where I really feel I perfected my craft is when I didn't overthink things too much and I just started creating. I found my niche' through trial and error. And to me that's the beauty of DIY. Some of the coolest things I've created whether furniture or an actual interior space, originated from a mistake or was a result from a plan that deviated.
DIY is part of my core as a Designer because it offers endless learning on how to make things on your own, and during the process, you learn so much about yourself and your style. Oh and you learn A LOT about your patience level too.
But truly, half the fun of DIY projects is telling all your friends and family you DID IT YOURSELF! And let's not forget to mention the $$$ you save too!
CARS. THEY RUN IN MY BLOOD.
My love for cars runs deep and stems from my Grandpa on my dad's side. He was as car crazy as they come. And being that my dad was very close with his father, it naturally lead him to be just as crazy about cars.
In April of 1980, my dad opened up his own auto body shop specializing in his favorite kind of cars...German automobiles. And the only reason he got into real estate was because of an injury which caused him to resign from the mechanic business altogether. But The Rincon Car Legacy didn't end there. My brother now holds the torch.
As long as I can remember my brother was always at the hobby shop buying model cars and restoring them. I even recall him entering in contests they had there and beating out people twice his age. I also remember his collection of car magazines that he would look at everyday after high school, and now he's pin striping cars that are in those magazines. He's living his dream and I am so proud of what he's accomplished and he still has so much more to go. He owns his own shop called Phillips Fine Lines specializing in pi. He has worked on everything from Lowriders, Hot Rods, Harley's, musical instruments, coffins, and so much more. His talent is unbelievable. And as you can probably tell, I'm a very proud sister. You can follow his work on Instagram @phillipsfinelines
I love that Los Angeles has always been a huge part of car culture and it's awesome to see the men in my family are a part of it. And I love that the city of Pasadena has many car enthusiasts. My favorite thing to do with my brother and dad is spending quality time in going to car shows with them. And while my brother and dad talk shop, I like to take pictures of the cars I want so I can put them on my goal board.
That said, cars have and will always be a big part of my life and I totally get why people are crazy about them. Not everyone appreciates the beauty of an engine, the sleek design, and all the bells and whistles of the interior. I've witnessed plenty of girls swoon over the person driving the car, but for me I swoon over the car. Not the the person driving it.
So there is this certain nostalgia I get when walking into places like Pep Boys and Auto Zones. From vintage classics to exotics, I am a huge car fan and would love to one day soon have my own collection.
My two best friends in the whole world are my two English Bulldogs Bubba and Lambo. They are brothers from the same litter. I would say 90% of my followers on social media follow me because of them. Like a lot of dogs, they think they're human. They make me the happiest girl in the world and I literally look forward to racing home from wherever I'm at just to see them.
Then there is Mochi, my first Bulldog who crossed over to rainbow bridge. He will always be my first love and is the reason I now have Bubba and Lambo.
COLLEGE DROP OUT AND GLUTEN-FREE
I had a health breakthrough end of 2015 that forever changed me. For nearly 20 years, I used to suffer from chronic migraines (KEYWORD "used to"). So about 2-3 months out of the year, I would have these debilitating headaches that would shut my whole body down. It hurt to lay down, hurt to blink, breathe, and just LIVE. In fact, migraines are the reason it took me 8 years to graduate college instead of the traditional 4, because I'd have to drop out midway through the semester due to the excruciating pain. But I was like..."I did not get this far in school to not finish." So I fought through it until I finally graduated May 2008 with my bachelor's degree in Interior Design.
Looking back now, I don't know how I did it because those we're some very trying times. Migraines interfere with every aspect of your life, and because I couldn't work to make money, it hit me hard both physically and financially.
I took every prescription under the sun, went to chiropractors, had acupuncture, took Chinese herbs, got braces, had my jaw realigned, got my eyes checked, had an injection shot near my eye, and even went the "medicinal" route. You name it, I tried it... except for botox. I never did that recommended procedure even though some of my girlfriends were like "Girrrrlll do it!" My parents even had numerous MRI's done on me to make sure I didn't have a brain tumor or brain cancer, and the x-rays always came back negative. The doctors would say the same thing every time..."We don't know what to tell you, but you're just one of the millions of people in the world that suffer from migraines." And then they would prescribe me a pill that I would have to take when I would feel the start of the headache creeping up. And that was it. No solution they were giving me. Just a bandaid.
Migraines are a pain that you never get used to. And after 2 decades of dealing with it, I finally had enough. I was done, and I was determined to get to the bottom of why I was getting them. I wanted to know what the heck was going on in my head. I wanted to know why it felt like I was having brain freeze times a million. Why it felt like there was knife in my head.
One of my friends was seeing a chiropractor that also practiced a more natural approach to medicine, and she insisted that I see him because he was known for successfully treating chronic ilnesses. I'm not going to lie, at first I was hesitant because I had heard some of these doctors methods were just hocus pocus. But in my throbbing head, I thought to myself what do I got to lose? I've already tried everything and nothing has worked permanently
If I could help just one person by sharing my story, then it will all be worth it. His name is Dr. Barry Lieberman and he's in located in Beverly Hills. Here is his website http://www.wholebodycures.com/.
Now I know what you're thinking... Beverly Hills, I can't afford that. But trust me, his prices are very reasonable considering he will completely change your life and in some cases like mine, save it.
In elementary school I LOVED kickball. In Junior High, softball was my thing. But by the time high school came around, my Nintendo N64 was all the exercise I wanted.
I was never a fan of PE and preferred art class over anything. I also loved writing in English class but didn't like when they forced us to read the most boring books.
Looking back now though, I realize why PE was so important in school. Even more so, I didn't realize what good shape I was in until I looked at all my school pictures. The only thing I liked was Badminton. I was really REALLY good at Badminton.
I'm realizing the older I get, the importance of diet and exercise! Thankfully, my boyfriend is an amazing personal trainer and knows all the tricks to stay fit, of course paired with a balenced organic diet.
I grew up watching my mom do her makeup everyday. Her makeup was always on point and she looked ready to take over the world. I loved the way she put on her eyeliner and her smoky eye shadow looks. She just knew how to do it. She is so talented in that department. And once she allowed me to start wearing makeup once I got into high school I was amazed at the transformation a little eyeliner and mascara could do.
As long as I can remember, I was always into fashion. I went through phases for sure. I went through your typical teen skater girl punk rock goth look for a while, and then went through this super girly phase. Oh do I wish I had some of those pictures. But at the same time, I'm kind of glad I don't--->embarrassing.
I got my first retail job at a local surf & skate shop at the age of 18 which I eventually became one of the managers. So working there gave me a real taste of the retail industry because I had to keep up with all the latest styles and trends and then help the owner pick out product to have in our store. Once the produce came in, I was in charge of merchandising it and making it all look pretty so customers walking in would be motivated to buy.
I would say that my fashion style varies and depends on my mood with outfits ranging from from conservative to edgy. I really couldn't categorize one style I lean toward because my wardrobe consists of so many styles.
Fashion is a huge part of who I am because I'm able to express my own personal style through clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories. I share my fashion on my Instagram page The Cyd Collection. Be sure to follow!
Music has always been a huge part of my life. In good times and bad, I listen to music.
In fact, I can never go to the gym or work out without headphones on. On numerous occasions, I have arrived to the gym parking lot realizing I had forgotten my headphones, and then drove all the way back home to grab them because that's how much I cannot work out without music.
I'm not a professional musician by any means, but I love to play around on my piano and guitar any chance I get.
That said, music inspires me and is always playing somewhere in the background at home, at my office, or in my car. I can't live without it.
If I wasn't doing real estate, no question about it, I'd be making films. No big blockbusters or anything to that extent, but probably indie films or tv shows like Weeds, Freaks and Geeks, The Wonder Years. But in another life, I think I'd be a profiler hunting down bad guys, if it wasn't so dangerous. One of my greatest passions is writing which is why I love blogging so much. My imagination has always been off the chain. I remember in 2nd grade, one of the weekly assignments Mrs. Stevens would give us was two words. A subject and a place. And we had to write a 20 word story using the two words given to us. Well, my stories we're always so far out and we're a minimum of 50+ words. And my teacher would always tell me what a wild imagination I had for such a young age and it was then I knew the power my little mind hand could create when I had pencil to paper. Although typing has become more convenient, there is something magical about physically writing.
The shows I grew up watching The Wonder Years, the short lived My So Called Life where I found my first crush Jordan Catalano, Roswell, and now my new obsession Peaky Blinders.
They say to travel is to live... And I will say the times I have traveled and stepped into parts of the world that I've never been to have been the greatest eye-opening experiences for me. The last place I went to go travel to is the beautiful island of The Bahamas. What beautiful people Bahamians are! I can't wait to travel to other places because there are so many things to see
Places I've been:
I would say a lot of people inspire me, but the top 3 people I've been obsessed with since the beginning of time are Tim Burton, Kelly Wearstler, and Gwen Stefani.
TRUE LOVE IN A DISCO
A question I've been asked my whole life and still get all time is "What ethnicity are you?" And the two people responsible for the answer to that question are my amazing parents Phil and Cyd.
My dad is Mexican from East LA, and my mom is Filipino from the Philippines so I'm half Mexican and half Asian. And how those two came together is probably one of the greatest love stories I have ever heard, and I'm excited to share it with all of you.
It was February 18, 1979, the night of my dad's 28th birthday and my dad's buddy and his buddy's girlfriend wanted to set him up with the buddy's girlfriend's friend. Did you get that or did I lose you?...Okay good! So my dad went ahead and gave his buddy the green light on the blind/double date proposal.
So the four of them headed out to this disco called Dillon's in Brentwood, which was the "hot spot" at the time. My mom was already at the disco with her girlfriend, but little did she know it was there at the disco where she would find her soulmate and true love, my dad. Man, what a trip it would be to be able to go back in time to witness their first encounter myself.
So, my dad's date had to use the ladies room, and like a gentleman, he walked her to the restroom and let her know he'd be outside waiting for her. As he patiently waited, he sipped on his drink and glanced towards the dance floor to people-watch all the action. And when his eyes skimmed passed this one girl, he did a double take. The kind of double-take Wayne Campbell does in Wayne's World when he sees Cassandra for the first time ***cue "Dreamweaver" by Gary Wright HERE***. That girl was my mom.
My mom was sitting by herself at a high top bar table while her girlfriend was boogying on the dance floor. Soon after my dad spotted my mom, all gentleman qualities went out the door as he completely forgot about his blind date that was still in the restroom and then quickly proceeded to walk towards my mom.
My mom recalls my dad walking up to her with his bellbottoms, chunky neck collar flared up, and gold chain. And as he tried to introduce himself, she played hard to get even though she thought he was cute. As she purposely gazed off in the opposite direction of where my he was standing, he continued to try to spark a conversation and asked if she would dance with him.
My mom stayed in character, continued to play hard-to-get, rolled her eyes, and finally agreed to give him one dance. As they started to dance, not even thirty seconds into the song, the DJ cut the music, thanked everyone for coming out, and the bright lights went up.
After their short-lived dance abruptly ended, my dad asked if he could call her sometime and she told him she didn't have a phone. So just like the movies...he went to the bar, grabbed a napkin, borrowed her lipstick and wrote down his number and told her "well I have a phone so maybe you can call me."
They said their goodbyes and when my dad found his buddy and his girlfriend, his blind date was understandably upset.
My mom called the phone number my dad wrote on the napkin early the next morning, and3 1/2 years later I was born.
If I could write a list of why I love my parents so much, it would be never-ending. I'm beyond close with both of them and I thank God everyday that he blessed me with the most amazing mom and dad a person could ask for.
No matter what venture I've chosen in my life, no matter how crazy some of them were, they were always right behind my cheering me on and encouraging me the whole way up. They still are right behind me