We had the good fortune of connecting with Nia Knowles and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Being able to work from a place that is authentic, and true to my purpose is the driving factor behind starting Area West Realty, LLC. In the past, I often worked for companies that solely worked off “numbers” and meeting their financial quotas. Even in Real Estate, there are businesses that set this as the number one priority and NOT the ability to provide a quality service or help people. I have found these models to be short-lived and not sustainable. Working from a place of purpose that is greater than what I can measure numerically has not only increased my monetary gain but has provided true wealth in a richer life and lifestyle.
What should our readers know about your business?
Area West Realty is an intown Atlanta Real Estate boutique. For over fifteen years, our agents have lived, worked, served, and played within the communities we service. We pride ourselves on being more than Realtors, we’re Community Advocates.
My dedication to community service has been our saving grace. The Real Estate crash of 2008 was a pivotal point for my business partner and I. We were faced with the decision of NOT working in our blighted community, the West End, and taking jobs to support ourselves. We both decided the need of others were greater and had the vision of building a business to help anchor/stabilize the Southwest communities. This consisted of working at reduced rates and often, freely, for people facing foreclosure and needing assistance with loan modifications, while recruiting new owner occupants to purchase available inventory and committing to remaining through the blight to one day see the possibility of gain.
This decision cost me my own home.
While serving our community (as the Chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-T, a Commissioner for Fulton County Housing Authority, Treasurer for the City of Atlanta Landbank Authority and participating on the Beltline Speakers Bureau) I learned more about the needs of people, and the direction of our city. I used this information to create a company with purpose.
What sets us apart is our purpose to specifically educate urban residents in gentrifying communities to understand the importance of using Real Estate to create generational wealth and build legacy within minority families. We are proud and excited to see our clients and communities now thriving with residents we helped purchase their first, second and THIRD homes but we are most joyous when we are serving and enjoying our neighbors either at a Senior Tea or at Saturday Yoga classes, which we host.
Some of the lessons I have learned,
1)In a service industry, always put people first.
2)Do not be ignorant about city plans. If you cannot volunteer or attend all meetings- read the posted and proposed plans for your community, however attending meetings, and being actively involved is best.
3)Use what you have. If you don’t have money- use your time and vice versa.
4)Sound financial management will enable you to serve more. It’s difficult to help others, when you are struggling personally.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m pretty lowkey and enjoy simple things. Walking through communities (with sidewalks) is my favorite activity- I love to view architecture and homes. Right now, besides the homes in the Historic West End/Westview communities, walking and dining in Glenwood Park (off Bill Kennedy Pkwy) is top on my list. The townhomes remind me of Brooklyn Brownstones and the Cosby Show …
I teach Saturday‘s, yoga, at Wild Heaven West End Brewery and enjoy the open artists market behind the breweries.
Sunday is praise & worship at Word of Faith Cathedral with Bishop Bronner which always renews my vision to think bigger and continue to do what others say ‘I can’t’.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My business partner, Jerilyn Lewis, has been my rock and voice of reason.