Getting to know Estate Living’s COO, Louise Martin3rd Mar 2020
With a qualification in Art Direction and Design, Louise Martin travelled the world before returning to South Africa where she worked in the local film industry. She owes her multi-tasking and communications abilities to these years where she was responsible for a myriad different tasks within the art department. At age 36 she was ready for a change and joined Estate Living – and what lay ahead was a headlong tumble into the exciting world of property.
In 2010, Estate Living founder and CEO, Jaime-Lee Gardner, had spotted the growing trend of secure residential estates and set out to create a media service that would cater to their needs. Together over the years they built a consortium of business services, that would promote and grow residential community environments.
In the 10 years since, the media outlet has grown from producing magazines for some of South Africa’s first residential estates to providing a turnkey communications platform that includes print, digital, eventing, podcasts, videos and sales generation channels. Not limited to upmarket estates, Louise says, “Our goal is to provide one national voice for the entire residential estate market that touches on everything about community living from lifestyle to development challenges to knowing your rights and how to navigate the real challenges of community living.” In her role as COO, she’s responsible for client services and executing strategies devised for them. And it’s also all about getting the content out. “We put out a number of valuable stories a week and my role ensures that we deliver good quality content and strategic campaigns for our readers and client ,” she adds.
About what she likes about her role, Louise comments: “I like to empower people to make informed decisions that will benefit themselves and the communities they live in.” Estate Living’s clients include homeowners associations, estate managers, property developers and service providers.
Louise has owned a number of properties. On this particular asset as an investment she says: “Property is still a good investment as long as you don’t overcapitalise and you can be in it for the long game. The best property investments occur in areas that have strong community spaces and great school access.” She adds that we are seeing the highest growth within the secure environments which still yield a capital return in an economy that isn’t growing.
Speaking about her success as a business owner, Louise’s advice to other women looking to go it alone is to, ‘keep your eye on the ball at all times and don’t feel afraid to be the leader, and build a strong team around you. Have nerves of steel and always remember the reasons for starting your business, it will keep you from giving up’. Her last piece of advice: “Don’t let the haters in, just believe in your vision.”
About her partnership with Jaime-Lee, Louise explains that it’s good to have a mix of strengths in a collaboration. “We play to each other’s strengths and that makes us a successful team,” she offers. For women making their way into property, Louise says, “Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate and be shrewd about the opportunities that come your way! More and more women are buying property and this is changing the market.”
Looking to the community Louise says that secure residential communities have changed as developers are forced to widen their product offering that includes lock-up-and-go’s, freestanding homes, retirement and sectional title offerings, commercial and retail, and importantly, more affordability. Technology that allows smart-enabled, digitally connected homes is also increasingly playing a part in this sector. “We’re seeing sectional title developments with properties under R3million blossom as more and more people opt for mixed-use communities that are safe, collaborative and convenient.”
About Estate Living’s role within this changing market, Louise is intent on continuing to provide value driven solutions for her clients and hopes to achieve this by truly understanding their needs. Plans to move into the international space are also on the cards. “For us placemaking is all about improving lives across all the different income brackets. By having honest and meaningful interactions with our clients, we believe we can create opportunities through our current infrastructure channels where everyone involved in the community development process comes out a winner,” she says.
On a personal front, Louise plans to keep working at being a better leader and finding balance between work, life and self. Travel features on her agenda as well as surviving the teenage years with her daughter.