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Meet Sara Cowley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Cowley.

Sara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In college, I studied studio art, which kicked off an almost 20-year career in graphic design. As much as I loved the the creativity… once I started working in the corporate world, I immediately itched for more. Specifically, more time away from the computer, and more time interacting with people and solving problems in a hands on way. This itch manifesting in me getting my pilot’s license when I was 23 (and I toyed with a career in aviation), then working on a Master of Social Work (again, go GSU). But eventually I went back to design, worked for myself, and found my niche working with nonprofit organizations like the Latin American Association, the National Hemophilia Foundation, and the United Way.

Also, throughout this time period, I got married, had 2 boys (now 11 and 8), so was balancing a family with my career. My husband has always had a 9-5 job, so while we are equal partners, my flexible schedule meant I did more with the kids, especially in the early years. My freelance design career became a great fit for that.

I wanted to leave design for a long time before I did. It was hard, scary and felt a little crazy to break up with clients one-by-one. But, now that I’m on the other side of it—I can’t believe I waited so long. I just turned 41 and felt like I’ve finally found my career groove for the first time. Changing careers into real estate has been a total life changer me (more on that below!)—in the best way possible.

Outside of work and family, I try to take care of myself by eating clean and exercising regularly. I LOVE hiking but wish I lived closer to more trails. I also love traveling, going to the beach, reading, Netflixing (who doesn’t?), hanging with my girlfriends, fostering kittens from the Humane Society, and playing tennis. If only I had more time for these things!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The struggles I’ve had along the way are mostly related to mindset. Being an entrepreneur can be hard, especially the risk-taking, incessant necessary perseverance and decision making. I have to constantly look at my goals to remind myself why I am working toward them—remembering the purpose behind them really keeps me motivated. I truly believe actively reviewing my goals on a daily basis helps me reach them. But like everyone, I get busy and go through periods when I skip this step; and I begin to loose focus. I find myself having trouble making decisions, or I waste time on things that probably don’t matter. It can be challenging to maintain focus when day-to-day life throws curve balls at me!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sara Cowley Homes – what should we know?
I have always loved houses, home decor and renovating (my husband and I had always enjoyed renovating our own homes), and I finally pulled together the courage to flip a house. I was scared to do it, but in a good way – I like a challenge. I ended up finding the perfect house that just needed cosmetic updates, and I purchased it from a sweet woman who was ready to use the proceeds for her retirement. A win/win! We updated the home with our amazing contractor team and had it back on the market four months later. When we sold for a profit, I WAS HOOKED.

Since then, my team and I have done several more projects, which always end in someone getting to live in a home they adore. I’ve changed to my focus to keep the homes we renovate and manage them as rental properties. I love the idea of restoring neglected properties and also offer affordable housing that is well managed.

All of these flipping adventures have led me to get my real estate license, which has been amazing. I’ve had the honor of working with and meeting so many people and helping them find homes – whether buying, selling or identifying investment properties.

This whole journey has been interesting to me because it really took off the year I turned 40. I’m a late bloomer, I suppose, and I wish I found this career years before. But, everything happens in good time, and I’m so happy I’ve found a career I love. It’s about dang time!

One thing that sets me apart is that I truly care about helping people find the right home for them. That may be a real estate client, or it might be one of our renters. It’s different for everyone and that’s what makes it exciting. There’s never a dull day in real estate!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
So many people give contractors a bad rap. However, I really owe a lot of my success to my amazing contractors—we work so well together and they have become great friends. Their amazing work quality, honesty, and timeliness has given me the confidence to take on projects I would be terrified of without them. I’ve also built up a team of attorneys, inspectors, appraisers, other agents, and more that I can call on when needed. I think that’s key as an entrepreneur. Your team might not be on your payroll—but maybe even better is they are experts in their field, that you can call on when needed.

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