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Woman of the Week: Lauren Doughty

Lauren Doughty joined CBRE, a commercial real estate company, 11 years ago as a summer student. She had just graduated from the University of Guelph and was planning on travelling abroad, but she abandoned her post-graduation travel plans when she was offered the job, deciding to test out the industry to “see if she liked it.” Since then, she got her real estate license and moved up within the same team — from summer marketing assistant to senior partner.

“Every day is completely different,” she said. “That’s what I love most about being part of land services group. Experiencing new projects and new challenges.”

As Vice-President of CBRE’s Land Services Group, Doughty represents the Toronto market for land services, focusing on selling development land. She has transacted over $1 billion in land dispositions, focusing on the GTHA with clients like Infrastructure Ontario and the Toronto Lands Corporation.

Doughty’s success can be attributed to how she handles her client relations. She says it’s important to think long-term and not push too hard to land the deal. It’s all about making the client feel like they have your undivided attention.

I think it’s more than just a deal,” she said. “You can’t be short sighted to try and get a deal for your sake, it’s about the client and the best decision for them. In real estate these transactions are really relationships, so that when the next deal comes there is no one else that they would rather go to.”

Some of the big projects Doughty has worked on include a transaction at Bloor and Dufferin on behalf of Toronto Lands Corporation and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). One of the things she loves about working with organizations like the TDSB is that it is community driven. The process involves meeting with city planners, various consultants, and speaking with the residents who live around the area about what they would like to see in the future development.

“I think what’s so rewarding about what I do — selling these properties and seeing what’s built on them and how it benefits the community,” she said. “Selling land for hospitals or run down buildings that are being torn down and turning it into something much more useful and vibrant in the community is what I really enjoy about it.”

Doughty spends a lot of time studying the housing market and says the numbers being reported in the media don’t accurately represent what’s happening in Toronto. The problem isn’t with the “housing bubble,” she says. It’s with supply and government oversight.

“Our inventory for new homes has dwindled down because there is so little supply and every new project that comes in gets sold quickly. When something does come in, it gets picked up really quickly.”

To compensate for the lack of supply, CBRE is looking at selling sites outside of the 416 areas like Kitchener, Waterloo, and Barrie — anywhere that is inside an urban boundaries and accessible to Go Transit so that those commuting into the downtown core of Toronto can still afford a home.

“When I started working here in 2006, we had listings out in geographical areas I hadn’t even heard of. Over the years we really focused on selling sites in the 416/905 municipalities. As of recently we have started working across the Greater Golden Horseshoe because there is so little supply of developable land within the GTA. People need to move out of this region for affordability reasons. When, in Markham, a townhouse now costs $1.5 million – homebuyers need to go to these out- of-golden-horseshoe areas.”

Her biggest concern is the new Ontario Municipal Board reforms and how that will affect zoning for sites that are in the process of getting approved.

In her free time, Doughty tried to volunteer her time with numerous organizations benefiting women. She just finished her term as Program Co-Chair with the Urban Land Institute and previously volunteered with Toronto CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women). Part of CREW’s mentorship is a program called Real Jobs, which allows high school students to learn more about careers in commercial real estate.

“At that age, I remember not knowing what to do. I would love to see more women get into real estate, whether its development or brokerage.”

Doughty still loves to travel — her latest adventure was three weeks in Asia — and spending time at the cottage. She is currently renovating her own house with her fiancé.

Woman of the Week: Maggie Habieda

Maggie Habieda has only one goal — to make her clients feel beautiful, like the “queens and kings of old.”

Habieda built Fotografia Boutique Inc., a photography studio that specializes in portraits, about six years ago during a time when photography studios were shutting down. It was one of her biggest challenges, but that didn’t deter her. Habieda isn’t the type of person to simply give up on a dream. With a certain amount of grace and charm, she fights, learns, and persists. She graduated with a Masters in Communication and Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design, but that didn’t include a lot of practical business experience, so she went to the library and took out every book she could find on finance and entrepreneurship.  Six months later, she hosted her grand opening.

Photo by Fotografia Boutique.

Habieda came to Canada from Poland at the age of 16. She knew she had the soul of an artist, but couldn’t get into any  art schools in her home country. She decided to move to a foreign country — Canada — despite the fact she didn’t know the national language, and proceeded to be accepted into art schools with a number of scholarships.

In college, Habieda painted and drew women – most of them as princesses. Eventually, she discovered a passion for photography and started her professional journey as a wedding photographer, capturing women on the happiest days of their lives. This type of photography changed how she viewed the term “princess.” She started to believe that every woman is a princess, and that’s something she wanted reflected in her work.

“I shifted away from weddings, I wanted my own environment where I could greet people and the whole place to be for them, to feel better for them. Where they could get their hair and makeup done and change clothes where no one is watching. Create their own world where they feel and look beautiful and walk away with something timeless.”

Photo by Fotografia Boutique.

What makes Habieda’s portraits so unique is her classic style, something she says she developed over the years to combat the “overdone” selfie craze. Her photographs are textured so that they don’t quite look like the traditional pictures you may keep on your phone. Instead, they look like classic paintings or drawings, something you may find in an old castle rather than a 21st century living room.

“In today’s world, everyone has a camera – there is sea of photographers taking photos and as soon as they are taken they are forgotten. I bring back the classics,” she says. “When I edit, I like it to be creative. I add textures, adding little elements, something that makes it more illustrative than just a photo itself.”

Habieda’s creativity and ability to focus on true beauty, rather than just point-and-shoot with a camera, is what separates her from others in the industry. She has been able to connect with high-profile celebrities, politicians, and community leaders, which has led to a very successful and thriving business.  She has won a number of prestigious awards for her work, including the Tiboor Horvath Award of Excellence, Wedding Portrait Best in Class, and Certified Glamour Photographer from the Professional Photographers of Canada.

And yet, she still hasn’t lost touch with her true vision — to capture, and inspire, beauty in others.

“Every day, I transform people’s lives. I spend time hearing people, their life stories. This is beyond capturing a portrait — its capturing people’s souls from the inside, how the world should see them.”

When she isn’t working in the studio, Habieda runs an annual concert called Colours of Love, which brings together six international artists to celebrate love, diversity, and the performing arts. This will be the third year Habieda organizes the concert, held at the Mississauga Life Centre, and hopes this year will be just as successful.

“Music is the universal language. I want to give and spread love with this world.”

To see more of Habieda’s portfolio, visit her website at fotografiaboutique.ca.