B.I.G. Renovation and Design is a division of Brockhedge Investment Group 1, an acquisition company that originated 30 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a group of diversified companies that all mirror the original brand. The company acquires properties and rehabilitates them for sale. From revitalizing downtown heritage buildings to constructing multi-unit housing and complex residential renovations, the team at B.I.G. takes care of every step from assessing the building to project management to the design and renovations. In the words of B.I.G., “we turn ‘can we do it?’ into DONE”.
We had the opportunity to speak to Alexis Kofman, National Director at B.I.G. to talk money, confidence, and the importance of the people you surround yourself with.
What is the best money advice you’ve ever been given, and what is the worst?
The worst money advice I ever got … Well, it wasn’t really advice, but I think it’s something that is ingrained in us as children. We’re taught to fear money. We’re taught that we’re not worthy of money. We’re given this mindset that everyone else has money, but not us. I still struggle to overcome this. In my company, the money we’re dealing with, it’s big dollars and there’s a huge accountability there. We need to be personally and morally accountable. And I think the worst thing I think we do as women, is we fear money. We’re scared we aren’t worthy of it. We’re scared we don’t know how to budget it. We’re scared we’re going to spend it frivolously. We’re taught this as children and it stays with us. Especially in my age group, we have that Baby Boomer parent, or older. They didn’t have money, they worked really hard and different generations have a different mindset.
The best thing I can teach people about money is to find your tangible. It may take some time to grow, but what is your security? For some people it’s stocks and bonds. For me, it’s real estate. Real estate is something you can sell if you need to, it’s something you can refinance if you need to. Real estate is freedom. If you run into a problem where you have to sell or you’re getting a divorce, whatever the situation might be, you have someplace that, worst case scenario, you can even live in. Real estate is just one of those things that is an unassuming investment. It doesn’t necessarily take 90 hours a week to manage once it’s established. Whether you’re living in it, renting it out, Airbnb-ing it; it can be a passive revenue source.
So the best advice to me is; whether it’s stocks and bonds, gold, real estate, to find your tangible and invest knowing that is your security.
I’m really blessed to work with these women who are in different cycles in their evolution of greatness
At stnce, we are all about women supporting women. When we met, I got to see the B.I.G. team in action. Can you tell us about that unique dynamic?
We have a pretty wide range of people and personalities on our team, from millennials to over 60. I would say our team is about 60% women. There is a very nurturing presence on my team. We fight like a family, we support each other like a family, we get exhausted from each other as a family … (laughs) … we look after each other. I have a 22 year old woman on my team, as well as a 63 year old woman. I’m really blessed to work with these women who are in different cycles in their evolution of greatness. We all nurture each other, and support each other. Since we all have different life experiences, there are life lessons we can share with each other. Really what happens is, you have someone who has lived it, who has experienced it, has been at the peaks and the valleys of their career, and you have this young millennial woman who is just starting out. It really teaches us not to get so caught up in ourselves, and the learning goes both ways. She teaches us as much as we teach her. Every single experience we have had has brought us to this life. It’s important to remember that.
The men in our office are a diverse age range as well, from 30 to 60 years old. I truly believe in this atmosphere they learn how to work with powerful women, how to respect powerful women, and how to engage with us. I think that translates well into their personal lives. I’ve watched a lot of these guys progress in their personal lives because they have learned to interact with these strong, resilient, powerful women daily.
Do you recall your moment when you felt you had “made it” as an entrepreneur?
Nope! Haven’t hit it yet! Honestly, I don’t know what that moment is. I get asked a lot ‘when is it enough?’ Sometimes I’m offended by that question because for me, it’s not about the money. The money is a by-product of my joy. Money allows me to help other people, to support other businesses. To give a break to people I believe in who would otherwise never get a break. I want to pass on this legacy to someone else who believes in it as strongly as I do. You’re only as great as your last minute. If you aren’t changing, evolving, growing, learning, sharing, what are you doing? If you hit a moment where you say “yay me” that’s great, but does that mean you never have any more greatness?
So no, I haven’t hit it. There are moments of happiness, there are moments of “breathe in success, breathe out fear”, there are moments of pride, but they are systemically attached to my team, the joy I feel when another woman starts a business because I was able to invest in her company, and she now suddenly gets the spotlight … That’s the joy. And I live for those moments, because those moments mean what I’m doing has value. As long as I can do that, I’m going to keep doing it.
You’re very outspoken about being a successful woman in a man’s world. What sort of unique challenges do you face in your business, and how do you overcome them?
I work in a legacy world of old people’s money. Development and building is generally a rich man’s world. You’re talking to men who are 60 plus, some born into it, some just started, but they’re mostly men. There are very few women who are redeveloping properties, it’s still very much a man’s world. The struggle with that can be respect. Usually after I speak for five minutes, I get respect because I know my stuff. For me, women need to realize you don’t have to be a man, you don’t have to dress like a man, you don’t have to change who you are. What you do have to be is resilient. You have to have hard lines. You have to have thick skin. It’s up to you to say what your line is. Draw your line and be unapologetic about it.
I was on a call the other day and a man said “wow, you’re really aggressive”. I said “If I were a man you would call me fearless. But I’m a woman so I’m aggressive. Ok, fine. If you don’t want to do business with an aggressive woman, then don’t do business with me.”
This is my worth, my project, my rules. Men will respect you and work with you and build with you; you need to demand that respect.
Why do you feel that it is important for women to build their financial confidence, in addition to their knowledge?
Cher has a great quote. She said “Men are like dessert. A man is absolutely not a necessity … I think men are the coolest! But you don’t need them to live.”
Again, we’re taught that we need to have a spouse, we need to raise children, and if that is your joy, that’s ok. We need to stop shaming women who decide that being a mom and being a wife isn’t good enough. Because it is, if that’s what makes them happy. What is not ok is to be dependent. What is not ok is to put your joy, your security, your safety, your livelihood in someone else’s hands. That’s where it’s not ok. Don’t wait until push comes to shove in a divorce settlement and assets are severed to make your life.
You need to figure it out, whatever it looks like, whatever your tangible is, and do it. Protect yourself. Plan for tomorrow. It’s not ok for your security to be dependent on someone else.