VoyageJacksonville – Most Inspiring Women in Real EstateAugust, 19 2022
MAY 19, 2022
Today we’d like to introduce you to Marika Dzhindzhikashvili.
Hi Marika, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born in the Republic of Georgia, the City of Tbilisi to an upper-middle-class family.
My dad was an attorney who specialized in international business, and he traveled a lot and often would bring my sisters and me presents with stories from different parts of the world. We lived a peaceful and comfortable life. By the time I was seven years old everything changed. The Country was ripped apart by bloody civil war and we nearly lost everything. Eventually, we had to flee the country and seek refuge in the United States.
The United States offered a soft landing for our family and soon enough we made Brooklyn, NY our home. My parents rented a modest apartment, and I shared a bedroom with my two younger sisters. I remember my first day at “Nefesh Academy” a private Jewish School for Girls, I was 11 years old, and I could barely speak English, everything was foreign to me, but it was the first time in years that I felt safe.
My dad’s law degree was of little use in the United States, and he had to take whatever work he could find to put food on the table. My mom who was accustomed to staying home and raising the kids had to get a job to help with the bills.
Those were simple and happy years. When I turned 16, as customary in our culture, my parents were looking for a suitable husband for me from a respectable family. Before I turned 17, I was introduced to a 25-year-old Wall Street stockbroker who came from a wealthy family. He was living life in the fast lane with a flashy lifestyle. On our second date, we went for a ride in his yellow Viper, with the top down, my hair was flowing in the wind as we drove through the streets of Manhattan with the speakers blasting “White Snake”, I felt free and wild, and I loved every minute of it.
Our wedding ceremony was an extravagant display visited by over 500 guests of the who’s who of the Georgian community. We moved to a big house on Long Island and before my 19th birthday, I gave birth to two beautiful girls: Victoria and Daniella. However, life with my thrill-seeking stockbroker husband was very challenging, and the family values that I was raised on were far from what I anticipated.
After six years of a rocky marriage, I left everything behind and put an end to it. I returned to Brooklyn with a double stroller and a suitcase, determined to make it on my own. It was around that time that I found my first job in real estate.
The real estate industry presented me with everything a single mom could hope for; a career that allows me to have flexible hours so I could raise my kids. I sharpened my skills at a rental agency in Manhattan where I did well, but I had loftier aspirations. Soon after, I teamed up with a developer who built and renovated homes in the outer boroughs of New York City.
One of the transactions I was involved in was the acquisition of an apartment building slated for conversion into a condominium. I enjoyed my interactions with commercial real estate and the investment side of the business. I found the spectrum of buyers and sellers to be professional for the most part who placed numbers, figures, and logic ahead of the emotions in their decision-making process that home buyers would tend to implement.
Commercial real estate has exposed me to constant new challenges that I have always enjoyed learning and growing from.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The balance between having young kids and the need to succeed was a challenge, it wasn’t simple to balance my ambitions and be a single Mom.
The second challenge was my lack of experience and lack of mentorship. New York is one of the most competitive cities in the world and I chose an industry that is male-dominated, ego-driven, and fast-paced. However, my determination to make it and the confidence I have in my abilities kept me going.
In retrospect “smooth seas don’t make skilled sailors”, while the struggle was real those were the most important years of my career. The challenges I faced are similar challenges to anybody who’s breaking into the industry.
New York City is not a place for the faint of heart and I grew tough skin and learned how to roll with the punches as I was making it from one deal to the next.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My real break came in 2017 when I met Joe Berko and his team at a real estate networking event. Joe had a leading commercial brokerage company in Midtown Manhattan specializing in structured finance and advisory that he morphed after 20 years, into a private equity firm called Astor Realty Capital.
Astor Realty Capital is an institutionally backed firm investing LP equity in ground up and value add projects across major US markets with offices in Manhattan, Miami, and Phoenix. Astor has participated in over 3.5 million square feet of real estate projects as of 2022 valued at more than 2 billion dollars and growing.
I joined Astor as an originator helping form joint ventures with best-in-class developers and operators in all asset classes. Today I am a director at Astor and Head of Origination for our firm.
What sets us apart from other firms is our investor-first approach and our conservative yet high yield-driven methodologies in Astor’s core values. We offer investors an alignment of interest with a seasoned team of professionals and access to institutional-grade real estate projects. In addition, our High-Net-Worth individuals enjoy our collective bargaining which results typically in hyper returns to their bottom line.
We now have projects in 7 states and 12 major markets which allows diversification and access to a variety of different asset classes. I finally found my home both professionally and personally. I enjoy what I do and the team I work with. We bring creativity and unlimited growth to our firm, business partners, and investors.
Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
One of my favorites is the Urban Real Estate Master Course, a disruptive online educational course curated by nationally recognized real estate moguls, a project started by the principal of our firm, Joe Berko.
As far as reading, my recent favorite book is “Am I Being Too Subtle” by Sam Zell. I also enjoy reading many articles and news channels to stay relevant, The Real Deal and Voyage Jacksonville are good examples.