This week in my “Empowered Woman of the Week” column, I chose Erika Shaefer. Erika is a beautiful, sweet, hard-working luxury real estate agent in Beverly Hills. You may also recognize Erika from Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” TV show. Erika works for one of the most prestigious real estate companies in all of LA, and her boss is major inspiration and boss babe as well, Tracy Tutor.
Erika has always excelled in what she does from what I know of her. Erika went in just a short time, from assisting to her current role, which many would try, but few would accomplish to the extent Erika has. I remember back when she was killing it out in LA doing celebrity tv hosting. What a cool job! Erika always seems so natural at anything she does, as if she was born to be doing it. We learn from her, that behind all the success of one, is a lot of hard work and tenacity. I loved Erika’s interview because she is so authentic, which is hard to find in LA, and she goes into detail about her journey and what one must do to become successful. Erika has traveled to many amazing places throughout her work.
I chose Erika because again, she has always seemed like a woman who works hard for what she has, and she is super ambitious. She loves to travel like me, and she loves animals and also works for an animal rescue. She loves helping others and is such a selfless person who constantly sees the best in people. She also seems to be such a supporter of females. She’s a sweet girl and I’m so excited for you all to read more about Erika, the true definition of beauty and brains!
1. Tell me your full name, age, and where you’re from.
Erika Schaefer, 33. I grew up in Georgia from the time I was 10 then we moved to Arizona.
2. Tell me a little about your upbringing? What were you like as a young girl and teenager?
I had a very idyllic upbringing. I grew up in Georgia surrounded by kids and outdoor activities. I was such a ham growing up, a very big and sassy personality. I was a girly girl through and through- loved makeup, getting my nails done, dressing up, putting on performances for my family pretty much anything that involved me being the center of attention.
We were a very close knit family who spent a lot of quality time together- attending church, vacationing, family game and movie nights. My parents instilled confidence, self-respect, and ambition in me at a very early age. There wasn’t anything I didn’t think I could do. I was very outgoing in high school. I had friends in all different group and was extremely social. I’ve always loved people and fed off their energy.
3. What did you want to originally be when you grew up? Did you ever think you would be where you are today? What made you want to become what you are today?
I changed my mind weekly when it came to what I wanted to be. I initially wanted to be a talk show host. I watched Regis and Kathy Lee with my mom religiously growing up. I loved how they were two best friends just hanging out and talking about everyday things. It seemed like such a fun job to me. I would take my yellow, red and blue Sony player with my microphone and would interview my brother, and all our friends. My mom still has the tapes to prove it.
After seeing Olivia Newton John in Grease, I became interested in acting. I must have watched that movie 100 times as a kid. I knew every song by heart and nearly memorized the entire script of the movie
Ironically, Once I moved to LA I started acting and later hosting for entertainment shows. In hindsight hosting and being in front of the camera prepared me for my career in real estate. It gave me the ability to connect and find common ground with clients.
4. When did you move to Los Angeles and how come?
A year after attending college at ASU I convinced my parents to let me move to Los Angeles. I was 19 didn’t know a single person, and just wanted to try something new. I’ve always been adventurous and unphased by change. We loaded up the car and the rest is history. I’ve been here 14 years now.
5. How did you get started doing what you’re doing and how did you really start to become successful? What does success mean to you?
Growing up my parents owned a construction company. In the summer my dad would give my brother and I odd jobs to do around the job sites. Watching him was so fascinating…he would start with a raw piece of land and his vision would come to life. At the time, I didn’t think I wanted to be in that field but it always peaked my interest.
In my late 20’s I decided to get into real estate because it seemed like a natural fit. I liked the idea that I was my own employer, there wasn’t a cap on my income and every day was different. I finished the classes and exam in 3 months, interviewed with one of the top producing female agents in Beverly Hills and was working for her shortly after. It was such a privilege to be working under such an esteemed agent who inspired me by her work ethic. I was eager to learn and tried to soak up as much as possible.
After working there for 2 years as an assistant, I interviewed with Tracy Tutor who mentored me. She was patient and encouraging. I worked incredibly hard- didn’t take vacations, was available around the clock, brought my computer with me everywhere in case something work related popped up. I was so focused and motivated. My success came from being persistent, dedicated, and determined. Often, we believe success happens overnight but it’s usually a long and arduous process.
Success to me has many meanings. It really depends on what aspect of life you’re talking about. Truly enjoying your job is success. Being surrounded by your loved ones and making memories is success. Helping others is success. As long as you feel fulfilled and whole that is success.
6. Tell me about your business and the projects you’re currently working on?
I’m a luxury real estate agent in Los Angeles. I assist mostly with buyers who are looking to purchase. It’s a very exciting and competitive business but I love it. When your clients find “the perfect house” it’s so rewarding.
I am currently on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. It has been a great experience. It’s been invaluable TO me as it has afforded me the opportunity to network and travel to amazing countries, tour some of the most incredible properties in the world, and get my name out there.
At the moment, our team is working on a huge project in Malibu. We launched the first property of a $500M portfolio consisting of 13 ultra-luxury and architecturally significant homes.
7. What is your greatest achievement thus far, and what or who inspires you?
Breaking into the highly competitive field of luxury real estate and realizing how much I have accomplished in the last 5 years is truly humbling. I could work my way up from an assistant to an agent with one of the top producing teams in the US. Being a part of the Million Dollar Listing crew is just icing on the cake!
My mom is my biggest fan and inspires me daily. She helps me maintain my positive attitude and is always reminding me of all my talents and abilities. She never lets me quit. She is an eternal optimist and lifts my spirits no matter my circumstances.
8. For people who want to build or grow their business or brand, what advice would you give?
Creating good content is key but also being consistent, purposeful and authentic. Connecting with those around you and making sure that your contacts/followers knows exactly what you and your brand represent. Never be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness.
9. What career and life advice would you give young girls who look up to you?
Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t found your calling yet. It took me multiple career shifts to find my way. I believe that everything in my life has lead me to where I am today. It wasn’t until the age of 28 that I made the decision to go into real estate. At 31 is when I discovered my passion for dog rescue after my dog of 11 years passed away. Embrace the constant change and growth that you’re experiencing.
10. What are you most looking forward to in the future?
I’m looking forward to meeting a good man that I have a strong connection with. Who respects and appreciates me. I’ve had a life full of adventure, excitement and wonderful experiences. I’d like to share that with someone. I’ll continue my career in real estate and hopefully open a dog rescue. Who says a girl can’t have it all?
11. What is your ultimate life goal?
To help others. I think you feel true happiness when you’re of service to those in need. My whole outlook on life changed when I began volunteering and getting involved in my community. I felt a different kind of happiness that’s hard for me to articulate.
12. What are things that people assume about you, that aren’t true?
Oh gosh, who knows. I used to be easily offended and take criticism to heart, but I’ve learned that if you’re true to yourself other people’s judgment won’t matter. Know who you are and what you stand for.
13. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’m half Cuban. My mom came to the states when she was 6. Growing up we were surrounded by the culture. It’s something I’m very proud of.
14. Why do you think women empowerment is so important?
There have been unrealistic expectations and cultural norms placed upon women for centuries. We are finally being encouraged to reach our full potential. We need to empower the next generation of women to speak their truth and let their voices be heard.
15. What would you say your best qualities are?
I’m an encourager who tends to see the best in everything.
16. How can women support each other more?
If we all showed compassion and understanding towards one another there would be less preconceived notions and competition. When woman feel that you’re rooting for them and truly care, walls come down and real friendships are made.
17. How can women feel more confident?
Confidence is something that builds overtime. It’s a muscle you must constantly exercise. When negative thoughts and self-doubt sneak into your mind you must shut them down! Speak kindly to yourself. Affirm to yourself that you are enough.
18. How do you overcome insecurities? How can others overcome their insecurities?
I pray. When I feel as though I’m not enough I take a minute to connect with my creator. I consider all I’ve accomplished workwise and personally. There is so much comparison in front of our faces daily with social media, television, the beauty industry -it’s only natural to feel insecure. Don’t feel shame in it yet recognize it and talk yourself through it. What triggered me to feel this? Get to the root of the problem.
19. What are the things in life you value the most?
Human connection is so important. The core people in my life mean everything to me.
20. What does it mean to you, to be an “empowered woman”? How did you become empowered?
Empowerment is a state of mind. An empowered woman is confident, knows who she is, what she wants, and even in fear will go out and achieve it. She takes authority over her own life and chooses what is best for HER. I became empowered when I saw how resilient I was during challenging times. I never gave up, I just kept pushing through.
Follow Erika on Instagram @erikashaefer_