Wednesday, 9 September 2015
2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Ruta Uleviciute
In this 2inspire Interview we meet Ruta Uleviciute, who went from doing business in London’s high-end jewelry circles and working with some of the world’s wealthiest people to becoming a partner at a real estate agency, on the tropical white sand beaches of Tulum, Mexico. How did she make this dramatic lifestyle move and why? Read this interview and find out!
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
I wake up at 6.30 AM and go for a run with my dog while the sun is rising and it’s not too hot. The heat is a part of living in the Caribbean all year round.
After greeting the sun, I am back home and while I am having a breakfast, I start answering emails.
If I do not have any meetings with clients or sellers before, I go to the office at 10 AM. The first thing that I do is organise the day with our development manager and office administrator, my right hand. When the day is planned, my meeting marathon starts. The list of things to do increases while the day is progressing and every day is different and exciting. Different people, different stories, different dreams and I am part of all of them.
If I can, I try to have my “lunch hour” on the beach around 2-3 PM just to unwind with the sound of the sea and think. After a short break I come back to the office and continue with meetings, emails and presentations.
At 6 PM I go to the gym, for a “me” hour and then home back to the office desk with more emails and presentations.
If I am lucky, I might have an evening off, but that is rare, as clients and their enquiries always come first and offering them personalised opportunities and advice always take time.
Even if it sounds busy, my day brings me more joy than stress. I love what I do and I enjoy the beautiful place where I live. If you want to have a successful business, you have to put in the work no matter where you are. Your business is your direct investment- its success will depend on how much work and passion you will put into it. I enjoy meeting with clients, showing them around and giving my best possible advice regarding their investment. This is a paradise-like place with its own pace, where people come for holidays and say “I would love to live here... “. I do live here and help others to make their dreams come true.
What made you start the business and how did you get started?
This business was born out of passion to provide good and honest advice in real estate with A to Z services.
I have worked in a fine jewellery retail in London for over 10 years, where my work became my hobby and the hobby became my life. My clientele who was buying big diamonds as a part of the investment started investing more in the exotic, undeveloped land and the real estate there, as it was giving them more satisfaction and the ROI was quicker and higher. I got curious and that is how I discovered Tulum in Mexico.
After moving to Mexico, I just could not accept the fact that people who wanted to invest in Tulum had to stumble with every step in this complicated system of investing in Mexico. I saw a gap in the market and I got determined to fill it.
When I moved to Tulum, there was no place to go and say: I want to invest money and build a house, can you advise me? Everyone would say different things; everyone was a “specialist” even if it would not make much sense.
Therefore, my business partner started a restaurant business on the beach to understand the business system and real estate situation in Tulum. After we understood basic rules and common foreigners’ mistakes, we slowly and carefully started a vacation villa project, researching and analysing every single move and learning many valuable lessons. I decided to learn all the rules and regulations regarding the developing in Tulum myself instead of always asking others.
With experiences and learning came the knowledge and we started giving advice to both sides – people who wanted to buy and people who wanted to sell.
Shortly after, my partner and I met with other two very passionate professionals and I decided to make it real - that was when Riviera Maya Property Consultants was born.
I joined the company as Sales Advisor and Executive, my partner joined as Development Manager, and our two other partners are an experienced public relations and marketing professional and an Italian architect/ engineer. We also connected with the best local lawyers, accountants and other carefully chosen professionals. My idea is that if I cannot give the best answer, I will find the professional who does. In this business, incorrect information can have very bad consequences and I do not like when sales people advise wrongly just to have the money.
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
The biggest challenge starting here was to succeed as a foreigner in a very different business market and as a woman in the “men’s world” kind of business. To my advantage, I had this experience before, when I started in fine jewellery and watch retail on Bond Street in London long time ago, when it still was the area of male professionals. Due to high product value in both businesses a deep knowledge and understanding of a typical male thought process is required, as it is often men who are the main buyers – but happy to say we are getting an increasing number of female clients as well.
The real estate business system in the Riviera Maya is very different even from that in Mexico City or other parts of Mexico. In order to learn to do business here, I had to quickly acquire all the knowledge of the continuously changing local rules and regulations, as well as business culture and specific Mexican way of thinking, not only the Spanish language. It is still old patriarchal mentality here, where men do real estate trade, so I have to prove myself every time.
I learned about local real estate, laws governing land purchase by foreigners, rules for architectural design on the beach and so on, as well as met local people in the industry.
Against all odds, with lots of hard work to overcome all the obstacles, we created a strong company that provides high level A-Z assistance for all the investors who are coming here to invest in real estate, land, property or projects.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
Since I am working in a real estate and I am luxury retail professional, of course I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I close a million dollar deal.
However, my greatest sense of accomplishment was the result of my biggest challenge in Mexico. We came to a very different culture with very different rules, regulations and mentality and in just one year after having officially launched our company, we were recognized as the new respectable agency by the oldest international and local real estate companies in the Riviera Maya, and received lots of praise from our existing and potential clients. Riviera Maya Property Consultants is a small boutique company, but we stand proud with all the “old sharks” in real estate industry here, and I am the only young woman in this place managing a real estate company. This is the result of our passion, focus, hard work and dedication to achieving high standards.
I think this is an example that with a focus, passion and hard work anybody can achieve their aims.
What are your future plans for the business?
Besides growing as a company, we want to promote and secure the eco-conscious growth in Tulum, so that the town develops, but the nature is preserved and cared for.
Also, we are aiming to help children in our area to get more opportunities in life. There are many young people here becoming parents at 16-17 and lacking on basic education. We are collaborating up with Les Couleurs Charity in New York and some other local charities to start an educational program for local children in the future.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I do not think I would do anything differently. I simply followed my natural path unfolding in front of me, and one thing led to another. It took almost two years of careful planning, learning, and selecting other professionals that we would like to work with before we launched Riviera Maya Property Consultants. However, that was the necessary base for a successful company.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I think that unspoken rules of society still see women in roles of supporting their husbands, who are achieving their dreams, while women stay loyal to the family and take care of million things at home. Yes, family is very important, but if we do not have big professional dreams also, we will always wonder what we missed out on and some of us might even blame men for being their “servant at home”. First of all, it is not their fault, it is our choice and secondly, we live once, so we have to make sure that we use all the opportunities provided to us to achieve our dreams. The main goal in life is to be happy, so my advice to women everywhere is to be bold and brave, and go after their dreams, whatever they are.
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Take time and do your homework.
If you are launching a real estate company in another country, you are embarking on a journey with very different rules, regulations and mentality from your own country. You have to know how to walk in their shoes before you introduce yourself - and sometimes it is not as easy as it might seem.
What or who inspires you in business and why?
Coco Chanel opened the doors to many entrepreneur women, while Hilary Devey is also a living proof that anyone who sets her mind to do something can achieve amazing results, even when others might not approve.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
There are some very good quotes that have helped me a lot, and proved to be very true.
The first is “you never know unless you try” - this is the most important thing in life, no matter what you do.
The second one is: “you can do it if you set your mind to it”. Anything is possible with the right amount of effort.
Last but not least is: “every mountain has a path” – it does not matter how big the obstacles might be, there is always a solution and a way to overcome them.
The living proof is Riviera Maya Property Consultants in Tulum, Mexico, created by a former Londoner, originally from Lithuania. Anything is possible. If I can do it- you can do it, too.