My story

About Gemma

About Me

My Story

Deep down I always knew that I wanted more.  Having lost my mum, a close friend and my grandad when I was at university, I realised that life was short and didn’t want to waste it.  I always worked hard, but the idea of being trapped in a job terrified me! I graduated with a degree in Business and looked for work in London, but they were more interested in my tan and gave me a job on reception.  I tried a few sales and marketing jobs and got told I wasn’t cut-throat enough! 

I got made redundant from my marketing job with a Dotcom start-up and decided to max out the credit cards and go traveling, I spent a lot of time in South-East Asia and did just about any work anyone would offer me in Australia.  From cold calling to working on the cloakroom in a nightclub in Sydney, you name it I didn’t care what I did, it was all worth it for the amazing experiences. 

IMG_9235
IMG_9462

When I got home, an ex-work colleague said going travelling was like having a taste of a really nice cake that you’d never be able to eat again! I thought that was it for me, I had to sort myself out and get a job and pay off the looming credit card debt! I decided I wanted to have a deeper purpose and trained to be a teacher.  At first, I loved it, working with disadvantaged kids in London, but as I climbed up the management ladder I began to get disheartened with the system.

Whilst I was working as a teacher, I’d bought my first flat in 2004, with the key worker scheme.  I realise now that I was very fortunate to be able to do this.  I made a small profit buying it from a Mitcham agent, doing it up a little bit and selling through a Tooting agent.  When I moved in with my now-husband, we got a discount on a property in Clapham as the sale had fallen through.  We added a conservatory and refurbished that, increasing the value.  We lived in that one through the whole refurbishment and he swore we wouldn’t ever do that ever again!

I managed to convince him to get a run-down probate property, which we refurbished and increased in value.  We then became “accidental” landlords, when the sale of our flat fell through.  I was completely clueless back then I knew nothing about property, so I just took two buy-to-lets I’d never seen, from a scheme, because the discount looked good on paper!  

Although we’d fallen into some property investments, I was quite happy working as a teacher.  I’m not really materialistic and I always got by, I didn’t really have any desire to create wealth and would just spend everything I earnt!

Everything changed for me when I had my children.  The sums just didn’t add up, I tried to go back to teaching, but I was spending out so much on childcare and the commute to London, it just wasn’t worthwhile.  I felt completely stuck for options!  I decided that the only way forward was to set up a business, I’d always been interested in property, so setting up a letting agent seemed like a good idea!

Skype_Picture_2019_06_06T15_16_12_723Z_copy2

As I grew that business, I started to see the income that my landlord clients were getting, whilst I was doing the running around.  Lucky them, I thought!  I soon came to realise, although I could fit it in around the children I could never have any time off, in some ways it was worse than having a job!  I remember a camel ride to the desert in Dubai, what should have been a dream trip and I was organising the plumber to sort out a leaking shower! At least when I was a teacher, I’d had the school holidays off! 

I knew that there was money to be made through property investment, but I was worried about the risk and I didn’t have any savings, running a letting agent seemed like a much safer bet! 

Something always held me back from investing myself, I always thought that it wasn’t for people like me.  I had an image of an investor that was a guy with whiter than white teeth posing with a Ferrari and I honestly thought that they were materialistic chauvinistic men who didn’t care who they trod on to get what they wanted! I was worried about what people would think of me as I had always identified with being a teacher and didn’t want to be seen as a greedy landlord!

I knew that I had to work on my mindset and I decided to get educated and take investing more seriously.

I read so many books, listened to so many podcasts, went on so many courses to find out about different property strategies, but I ended up just feeling totally overwhelmed 

I was worried about making the wrong decision, going it alone, my husband just wasn’t interested and I always found that the property events were full of men or couples who were investing together!

I spent a long time trying to convince my husband, but in the end, I realised that I had to go it alone.  I decided that I needed to have a clear strategy and focus on ONE thing.  I knew that I wanted to replace the income from my career, but I was also sure that I wanted to have a pension pot and assets to pass on to my kids.  So, I decided to invest in HMOs, letting out rooms to individual tenants to create cash flow.  I purchased run down properties and converted them, increasing the capital value and taking equity out to use for the next project.  Then I worked with joint venture partners to raise more finance and I now have a total of 28 rooms.

I’ve realised that having income from property has given me a lot of options and as well as time and flexibility to be with my children.  I wanted to help other women get ahead in property as I’ve felt it’s still a very male dominated industry so I decided to become a coach.  I’ve studied the Noble Manhattan Coaching and School coaching diploma and NLP Master Practitioner.   

Now I love to help other ambitious women learn the systems I learnt to build wealth in property, so that they can support their loved ones, pass assets on to their children and focus on what’s really important to them.

In 2006 I became an accidental landlord, when the sale of our flat fell through, we then acquired some more buy to lets shortly after that.   I began to realise that property could be the perfect solution, but I didn’t really know how to get started.  I was already managing our buy to lets when I was at home with the children, so I decided to set up a letting and managing agent.  I’d not really considered investing further as I hadn’t worked on my mindset and I thought managing property for other people was much less risky!. 

In my lettings business I always felt like I was missing something, I could see the income that my clients were getting, but something was holding me back from investing myself. I heard that property investment was the route to financial freedom, but I just didn’t know where to start.   

As I listened at property networking and training, it dawned on me that It wasn’t so much about what I was learning, I just didn’t have the mindset I needed to become an investor! I learnt that my money beliefs were unconsciously sabotaging my success and I was experiencing a lot of “imposter syndrome”. Once I’d worked with a coach to overcome my limiting beliefs, I was able to take opportunities right in front of me that I’d not been able to see before!

Skype_Picture_2019_06_06T15_12_52_192Z_copy1
Skype_Picture_2019_06_06T15_12_11_436Z

That’s what I’ve come to realise, that in order to have something that no-one else you have do to something that no-one else is prepared to do. Not taking that risk actually runs the risk of living a whole life not knowing what you could have been.

Although I’ve always said I’m not motivated by money, I knew deep down that I wanted freedom, for myself and my family and it’s very hard to have freedom without financial freedom. Getting paid from investments, assets in the form of businesses you have created and leveraged out frees up your time to do the things that you really love and be with the people you want to spend time with.

This is the biggest gain for me in building a property portfolio, being able to replace my income at the height of my teaching career as a stressful team leader, whilst only working a few hours a week around being there for my children and studying personal development and NLP.

Although the money from my portfolio is great, the biggest thing that it has given me is freedom

Freedom to go on holiday without having to count the days allowance or check that someone else doesn’t want to go away at the same time

Just in the past year I’ve been to Thailand, Miami, French Alps skiing, Majorca, Portugal with friends

Freedom to work at home with a new puppy

Freedom to visit family and friends for coffee whenever I want without having to ask the boss for permission

Freedom to do the work where I want when I want

Freedom to stay at home with my kids when they are sick from school

Freedom from the stress Freedom to go on lots of holidays

Freedom to go to my kids plays and assemblies

Freedom to take my kids to work when they have to have a day off sick

Freedom from the boss who takes all the credit for your hard work

Freedom from the office politics, the moaning, the negativity

I now truly believe that things can be the same for you too, whatever your business and your passion, because the key ingredient that I was missing from studying business at university was not that you have to have some amazingly unusual business idea to be successful, but that you have to understand how to get leverage on your own time and by that I mean building a business that can run without you, not a business that becomes worse than a job as you are so burnt out by it that you don’t have any time for the things that you love.

I find now that as a coach I am able to help people and make a difference in their lives and the best thing for me is that the agenda is set by you as the client not by some government initiative forcing people to learn things that they aren’t interested in. I truly feel blessed to have been able to build my property business and want to help other mums get back in touch with what feeds their passion and make money along the way.

Recently, I got called back for extra checks after a Mammogram, this was terrifying for me as my mum died of breast cancer in her forties. I was able to know that if the worst happened then then at least I have built a property portfolio that will be able to support my children after I’m gone and I was so grateful that I took that risk in buying that first HMO property as now I know that if something happened to me that my family would still have the income from the portfolio. I say that I am not money motivated, but to me that knowledge is priceless and the knowledge that I am creating assets that can be passed down through generations. Through my property business I have been able to provide a flexible source of employment for other parents in the area and high quality homes that tenants want to come home to. I really believe now that money is energy that flows through people and that it’s not the evil thing that I once thought it was!