Finding Me, with Real Estate Agent Elisha Sander
Raised in the small farm town of Okotoks (18km south of Calgary), she spent most of her youth dancing, acting and working for her father’s building company; a unique combination of skills that would one day play an integral role in her career.
Following her graduation from the University of Calgary, Elisha moved to Vancouver where she would start her journey into real estate. A member of the 5 am club, she’s a hustler by day… and by night.
With a growing real estate business in Vancouver and an HGTV show that premiered last year in July named Phoenix Flipped, it’s safe to say 2017 was looking busy and bright for Elisha. She may have a budding television career on the horizon, but not to worry, this former farm girl is still (and always will be) a little bit country.
I grew up in Calgary, Alberta in a family of entrepreneurs. I mean, nearly everyone (aunts and uncles included) ran their own businesses. Most of them were successful, and I just knew I’d grow up one day to do the same.
The only thing was – I lived to perform. I was a competitive dancer throughout my childhood and teen years and even started my own hip-hop crew with a few girls I used to compete with. We were called Explicit (don’t laugh). We opened up for performers like Sean Desman, Girlicious, and jabawokeez. It was something that, at the time, I truly wanted to do for the rest of my life. But growing up like I did, I had it in the back of my mind that I needed to start a business – a successful one. I went to the University of Calgary and graduated with a degree in communications and a minor in religious studies. I knew that’s what I was ‘supposed’ to do, even though I can promise you I hated every minute of school. I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t for me, but I wanted to follow through on what I started (I don’t like quitting). So, I graduated and then swiftly moved to L.A. to pursue a career in acting. I spent six months (the longest I could stay with no visa) taking acting classes and waitressing at a family friend’s dinner in Beverly Hills.
You are the only you, so just be the best version of that.
I was getting interviews with agencies, but as soon as they found out I was Canadian, I left the office as quickly as I came.
I moved back to Calgary before I got kicked out of the U.S., and enrolled for my personal training certificate. I know this all seems so random, as a lot of my life does, but it all came together in the end (which is also always does). I loved fitness and was an avid gym-goer, so I figured I could be a personal trainer while I auditioned in Canada. That somewhere else ended up being Vancouver, where I never trained a single person. I packed up my car in December, and my step-dad offered to drive with me and help me move into an apartment.
When I was 17, I got a dance scholarship to Vancouver and had spent 5 days training at Harbour Dance on Granville street, but that was my extent of knowledge of the city.
After spending pretty much my entire first week in Vancouver just drinking coffee (I lived above a Starbucks), I walked down the street and decided that if I was going to be an actor, I’d need to get a job first. I walked to a restaurant a few blocks down the street from me called Local and straight up asked if I could work there. For some reason, the manager said “sure.” I was a terrible waitress. I got better as time went on, but ironically I had a hard time acting like I liked serving people.
For four years straight, I waitressed, auditioned, danced, did makeup jobs, worked in sales, and asked people a LOT of questions. I wanted to hear their stories, how they found their ‘path’ and figured out what they loved. What I realized is that figuring it out really only requires doing something – anything. So, try everything, say yes to everyone, and eventually, something will click. I promise.
My sister lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and got her real estate license, then encouraged me to do the same. She said, “at least you could make more money than you do waitress, and still have time to audition.” Initially, I said no way; I didn’t (think) I wanted to be in real estate. After one last terrible day at work, and with some encouragement from my boyfriend, I enrolled in the class because I knew I just needed a change. I started the course and LOVED it. I began working with a guy I knew that was already a successful agent, and he showed me the ropes. It was a blast and I was for the first time making some good money. Like I mentioned before, eventually, things will start to click – like when it all came full circle for me and I was approached to do a reality show about real estate. Today, I just wrapped filming a pilot for HGTV where my sister and I host a show about flipping homes in Scottsdale. Woohoo!! I am finally doing the things I LOVE – performing and running a successful business.
Running my business in the first year was a bit of a struggle, as I’m sure it is for most. There’s a lot to learn on the backend and you are suddenly responsible for a lot. I’m still learning and figuring it out, and I definitely haven’t mastered any of it (yet).
What I have mastered though, is intuition and cultivating openness. Being open to options in business and in life has brought me to where I am today. At the time, I didn’t think any of this was a huge leap, but looking back on it, I’m so grateful to myself for being brave. I took a chance to move to a new city where I didn’t know anyone at 23, brave enough to try out a whole new career (or five), and brave enough to just be who I always knew I was going to be.
The best advice I’ve ever received is that there is only one you. No one else in this world is like you, and no one can do things exactly how you do them. To be self-aware, learn and listen to what you’re good at, and go with that. Don’t be someone you aren’t because you’ll never be great if you aren’t being yourself.
To follow Elisha on Instagram, follow the link: instagram.com/elishasander