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From Fashion to Deal Making: The Unusual Path to Brooke’s Success

Colleagues smiling in front of a restaurant

DLC’s Senior Leasing Representative, Brooke Stevens, shares her story on how a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate turned into a successful deal maker at DLC with David Horwitz, VP of Leasing, Training, and Development.

David: Did you always know that you wanted to be in Commercial Real Estate?

Brooke: Truth be told, I feel as though I happened into it. My work experience throughout college included retail, tradeshow sales, and residential leasing so in some ways you could say those all contributed to my interest. I started in the industry fresh out of college with a temporary position as a receptionist in NYC with a commercial real estate company. At that time, I figured my next move would be some sort of fashion sales job.

However, during my time as a receptionist, I found myself exposed to many facets of the industry assisting those in Development and Leasing departments. It was during that time that I built my foundation and worked alongside people who are leaders in the industry and mentors to me. I spent three years between two offices moving from receptionist to Accounting, Marketing and Leasing assistant roles. In my third year, I knew I was meant to be in Leasing. I had a lot of encouragement from a couple of people to pursue this side of the industry and I’m forever grateful to them for the exposure and reassurance. And while there was not an opportunity to work directly with them in a Leasing role, I was able to find an incredible opportunity to grow as a Leasing Associate at DLC.

David: You’re originally from Ohio and now you’re working in New York. Were you nervous to move to New York?

Brooke: Ohio and New York are very different places, that’s for sure. I am from a very small rural town north of Columbus, Ohio so there were a lot of differences in moving to New York.

Fortunately, I had been exposed to the New York culture right out of high school during my time at the Fashion Institute of Technology. That initial move from Ohio to New York taught me so much about people, culture and business. That experience fueled my passion for a career here. While my path to get here wasn’t smooth and required a few stops and starts, I understood that New York offered incredible opportunities and that I was meant to have a career here.

At times it is still tough, I miss my family and friends and the comforts of “home”. Fortunately, I have a strong support system from afar that keeps me going and what could be considered a “family” of people in the industry with similar situations who inspire me to keep moving forward.

David: You’ve been with DLC for about three and a half years. What has your experience been like?

Brooke: When looking to make the move into Leasing, I wanted to be sure I made the right move. I didn’t so much care about where I would be – I would’ve moved to London if it meant I had a shot at Leasing – but I knew I needed the right company. I did a lot of research and spoke to the people I trusted most in the industry for advice. I interviewed with several major owner and operators where I had options to move along, however, the interview with DLC was unique. They emphasized their belief and trust in young dealmakers and made me feel as though I would be an integral member of the team from day one. After meeting the team, I knew this was the company I’d move across the country for.

And I couldn’t be happier that I did. I started as a Junior Leasing Associate about 3.5 years ago and have since been promoted twice to my current position as a Senior Leasing Representative. I went from a support role to a role where I am now working on deals with major national retailers like HomeGoods, Starbucks, Burlington, and Orange Theory as well as many local and regional retailers. The variety of deals and product is so exciting to me. DLC is continuing to add to their portfolio and redevelop existing centers, so the opportunities are endless here.

David:  What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?

Brooke: It’s hard to pinpoint one moment. Working in Leasing can be rewarding in so many ways, from signing that first deal ever (700 SF Metro PCS for me!) to seeing a local business owner’s dream come alive through their first grand opening, there are a lot of moments I find rewarding.

Ultimately, knowing I’ve made an impact is most important to me. Coming from a small community where every new business opening in the area made a significant impact on daily life, I love being able to bring that kind of change to the communities we serve at DLC.

Coming soon – Stay tuned for Brooke’s video interview David!

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