Jessica Myers is known for being an ambitious real estate investor and developer who is on a mission to help professionals diversify their income through real investing and create generational wealth and legacy. In 2015, she embarked on her journey of becoming less dependent on her career as a means to solely generate income. After mapping out her goals, Myers realized that her focus on climbing the corporate ladder needed to shift to being centered around owning more of her time so that she could invest her time elsewhere. In turn, Myers had more time to research how she could make more money and she landed on real estate investing and development.
“It is my desire to generate equity via 1,000 doors and help others do the same. Through this acquisition of properties, we become our own bank. Property ownership gives you access to even more capital and opportunities that you would not have ordinarily had. Once your cash flow engines are set up, use those to take care of your living expenses, and you can own your time to grow, live and experience the life of your dreams,” said Myers. “When you are not in control of your paycheck, you’re not in control of your time. This is my protest – helping to rid my community of corporate dependence through real estate.“
Just six years into her entrepreneurial journey, Myers has renovated over $15 million in real estate properties. Additionally, she and her business partner have become the youngest Black hotel owners in the United States after securing an $8.3 million deal with Hilton to acquire the Home2 Suites by Hilton in El Reno, Oklahoma. Now, she is empowering others to learn about real estate wholesaling, investing, and development.
Since the pandemic, more professionals have begun to pivot into entrepreneurship as a means to create multiple streams of income given the many changes the workforce has undergone. As people continue to sort their options Myers shared how she got started, the impact her business has on her community, and how others can start investing with what they have.
Start Where You Are
Lydia T. Blanco: What sparked your interest in commercial real estate development and investing?
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Jessica Myers: I joined corporate America through an internship while in high school. I realized as I climbed the corporate ladder, I wasn’t tapping into the fulfillment I desired. I did not own my time and neither did my coworkers. I first set out on a mission to own my time. Then, I discovered real estate investing. Everyone needs a home. The world’s wealthiest leaders have real estate in their portfolios. So, I set out on a mission to own 1,000 doors and my time. Commercial real estate allows my efforts to become exponential.
When I first got started in real estate investing, I put a lot of work into each home. When I understood that commercial real estate required the same hard work, but you get more units, it just made sense. It’s powerful to create a cash flow engine that allows you to scale faster. That excited me! Working on visions larger than I could imagine while simultaneously creating generational wealth is what sparked my interest.
Blanco: How important is building the right community around you and mentorship?
Myers: Having the right mentors is PIVOTAL for growth. They have seen and experienced enough to lead you in the right direction. While it will save you time, you still have to go through your journey of building real estate. You gain an understanding of their paths while engaging your intuition and building your own. It is important to be in a community that is resourceful enough to help you work through viable solutions when trouble arises.
It Takes Money To Make Money
Blanco: You can’t talk real estate without talking money. How did you and your team raise money to invest in your portfolio? And, did you encounter any challenges as Black women in the industry?
Myers: My husband was my first investor. He believed in my dreams and sowed into the vision. Once we were able to get some small wins, that’s when I introduced community buy-in. This taught me something very key. Just because others don’t always see the vision does not mean you quit, and it also doesn’t mean they won’t come back. You have to be strong enough to put in first, sometimes even second and third. Thankfully, through consistency, failing forward, and collaborative economics, we’ve been able to grow our vision even greater and build our portfolio.
With less than 2% of Black ownership in the hotel space and an even smaller percentage of women owners, I often found myself going into rooms with people that didn’t look like me. Within those trailblazing moments were challenges, but now that we’ve forged a path to commercial ownership, we seek to help create a path for others to follow.
Owning Commercial Real Estate Is Possible
Blanco: You and your business partner are the youngest Black women to own a Hilton hotel. What does it take to acquire a hotel?
Myers: It takes the right opportunity in the form of undervalued properties (which COVID-19 created the perfect conditions for). It requires having the proper know-how. My business partner has over 15 years of hospitality experience.
It also requires the right team to partner. Nassau Investments has been a great partner. For us, that brand is Hilton. With instant global recognition, the demand builds itself. We also made sure the location was prime for visibility. Being right off a major interstate and in a prime location was a plus. Lastly, you want to have a strong operator. That is key to the customer experience and leads to growing profits.
Blanco: Ownership is a pressing topic of discussion within the Black community right now. What are some low-risk investing techniques people can learn and implement to generate more wealth?
Myers: I got my start in real estate as a wholesaler. As with any other industry, a wholesaler is responsible for finding an undervalued asset. That asset is typically a community eyesore or a property that needs a lot of improvement. The opportunity lies in negotiating with the property owner. In turn, they do not have to worry about putting in thousands of dollars on repairs, allowing them to receive cash for their home as-is.
Instead of purchasing the property, wholesalers work with Cash Buyers who have the money to pay for the necessary repairs so that the house can sell for retail. Working with the buyers or investors who have cash provides a low-risk opportunity to learn the ins and outs of transacting real estate without having to use any of your capital.
Understanding the numbers, how to evaluate a property, and knowing how to put together the right team are all skill sets that make a successful investor. Starting as a wholesaler gives you leverage to learn and to get paid while learning so that you can stack up and become an investor.
Blanco: Since 2019, Epiq Collective has acquired more than $14 million in commercial real estate assets. How have you and your co-principal been able to achieve this great accomplishment?
Myers: Covid-19 provided the opportunity, but we had the team and the skill to know what to do with it. We took risks. We kissed many frogs before the deal went through. Thankfully, everything aligned and we were able to focus and achieve success.
We built a community around our vision of ownership and enrolled power players within the industry to help us achieve our goal.
A key protocol is to reverse engineer your success. My spiritual advisor always tells me to start with the end in mind. Seems simple, but when you envision yourself at the finish line and envision your success, you can understand what you need to do to get there. [Ask yourself], what resources do you have, and who do you need to add to the team to make up for what you don’t? Also, envisioning success allows others to be enrolled into the team and attribute their specialization to help you achieve your goal.
Economic Development Empowers Communities
Blanco: How do the communities that you do business in benefit from your work?
Myers: We are creating an economic ethos among the citizens of the towns we cover. For example, when we went to a site visit at our hotel property in El Reno, Oklahoma, many of the staff didn’t have benefits or even a 401(k). As the new leadership, it was vital for us to connect with them and get them set up for success. Also, we’ve been able to help revitalize a historic district in Brunswick, Georgia. This effort is helping to create jobs and increase property values for the community.
Whenever we go into a community to develop, I am very intentional to meet with community leaders and decision-makers to understand their vision and needs then incorporate those elements into our strategy as best as possible. Overall, we’re not just in the business of developing homes, but we also intend to develop leaders.
Blanco: As a developer, what are some of the lessons you have learned as you do business?
Myers: Yes, we are all here to make money, but the more in tune you are with the community you serve, the greater the impact. With what we did in El Reno, Oklahoma, and what we’re doing in Brunswick, Ga, we’re able to create jobs and better housing opportunities for those that might not easily have access. Don’t just blindly go out to serve yourself. The more inclusive you are of others in the community you serve, the more impactful the community becomes in the success of your project. I also learned to do it and do it afraid. I can’t begin to tell you how many deals I lost out on by being caught in analysis paralysis.
The more in tune you are with your vision and goals, the easier it is to make a decision when an opportunity strikes. Build your criteria first. That way, when you’re evaluating deals, you are more prime to make an educated decision. Nothing trumps fear better than education.
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.