When you think of real estate, black and grey suits, a commercial smile, and brown, bulky briefcases toted by agents may be the first thing that comes to your mind. Yet, Mom-trepeneur and television personality Robyn Dixon changes the narrative with her strikingly chic blonde locks, dazzling personality, and quick wit. The Real Housewives of Potomac Star and University of Maryland graduate is persistent in being her own boss by “buying back the block.”
With tons of business collaborations under her belt, inspiring tasks of planning her next women’s empowerment event, prepping herself for the big screen, and being an involved mother, Robyn is a BAUCE woman to know. In this interview with BAUCE, Robyn shares the business knowledge she has learned over the years and why she’s such an advocate for women investing in real estate.
As we all know, another season of Real Housewives of Potomac just came back on air. How are you feeling about that?
Robyn: Well, first-of-all it, it’s crazy. It’s four seasons in and it’s still surreal to me. That, one–I’m on the show, and two, that we’re four seasons in. It feels like just yesterday when I was going through the casting process and not knowing what it was that we were filming and whether we would make it on air. I know a lot of projects that get filmed and they never see the light of day. It’s just–it’s crazy and surreal of me to think like, wow, we’re on season four. It’s such a blessing and an honor that the fans have grown to love us. I’ve heard that you had to prove ourselves, and I think it’s so awesome that the fans have grown to love us and stuck with us. So, it’s exciting, it’s a blessing, it’s surreal, it’s humbling–it’s just all of that wrapped into one.
You can be described as “Ms. Do it All,” from being a mother, a successful businesswoman, and a TV personality. How do you maintain a balance between these roles and keep yourself from “burning out”?
Robyn: I enlist help. In my real estate business, I work with my mom. I realized that my most important priority in life is my children. So, I realize I can’t do anything by myself. It’s so important to get help — good help — and people that you trust and know are going to be right there with you picking up the slack when you can’t make it. The fact that I work with my mom really helps me out because I can trust and depend on her.
My mother is like a taskmaster and if there’s something that needs to be done, she’s going to get it done. So, having that strong partnership and working with my mom on our real estate business is such a blessing with the kids. I don’t like to miss anything when it comes to my children. So practices, games, school award ceremonies, and homework time are all my number one priorities. I think like most mothers, that’s one of our biggest sacrifices and struggles because we want to be there for our kids and we also want to have a life for ourselves. It’s something I’m still working through– just trying to find that balance.
If I’m not there and I know that their father will be there or someone that they feel very close to will be around for them. It’s so important to me that they always know that they’re loved. Filming the show is like a part of our life as well. So, we incorporate our life into the show and everything that you see on the show is going to take place. Yet, as I said earlier, never be afraid to ask for help. Seek help and find people that you can really trust and depend on because otherwise, you’re going to be pulling your hair out, running all over the place, exhausted, unfulfilled and not putting your best self forward.
You graduated from the University of Maryland where you obtained a degree in business marketing. Would you say that it helped you go about the different business ventures that you’ve had your hand in today?
Robyn: Absolutely! The business school in Maryland is one of the best in the country, they have a wonderful business program. So, while I was at Maryland, I got a fantastic education, where as soon as I graduated I was able to get great jobs in the business world. I worked for Otis Elevator, Under Armor, and in my mother’s business. I’ve had a lot of different experiences businesswise in different types of fields. I also worked for a PR agency, but I would say for anyone, don’t just rely on your classwork and your education.
I was also very active on campus. I was in a sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and was the president. I was very active in planning events for not only my sorority but the entire National Pan-Hellenic Council. So, those types of experiences also helped shape my professional drive and experience. I did turn my focus on events after college, so that was kind of the transition for me. I feel like working with events and the public relations world is a very entrepreneurial and spirited industry. So, even if you are working for someone, you still have the freedom and flexibility to flex your entrepreneurial skills. I feel like all my experiences have shaped my drive and ambition to be an entrepreneur and a businesswoman.
What made you realize that you wanted to take on real estate with already so much on your plate?
Robyn: Real estate is something that I was always interested in. When I was married and my husband was playing in the NBA, we were silent investors in a real estate project. I was able to learn from afar about real estate investing and I could see the potential in it. Years ago, we did a tear down where we took an old house, tore it completely down, and built it into a fabulous $2.5 million house. So I was able to see what that process is like.
I just loved seeing how you can, as an individual, literally turn something from nothing into something amazing. So, it was something I always wanted to get into. When I first met my real estate mentor it was a kind of a “chance meeting.” I was so intrigued by learning and was like “whoa, I could do this on a smaller level.” I always thought in order to get into real estate investing, you must have all this money at your disposal. Yet, once I learned that you don’t have to have that much money because you can start small, learn the process, and build your business– that’s when I really was like, “okay, I’ve got to do this.” Even if I do a project that only profits me $5,000, at least I learned something along the way and I can take what I learned into the next one and just grow that way.
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I LOVE investing in Real Estate! My mom and I have been renovating our 1st fix & flip property and it’s been a hands-on experience with our mentor @marcel_umphery walking us through each step. If you are interested in learning how to invest in real estate and happen to be in the Washington, D.C. area, meet us both this Saturday at our next Freedom & Wealth Real Estate Investing Masterclass by signing up via the link in my bio. Hope to see you there! As seen on #RHOP 🌸
Now that I’ve kind of lived a little, I’ve lost money, I’ve been through the ups and downs of life and business–I’m at the point where I just want to grow, learn, and have something of substance to hold onto. It’s [Real Estate] out here for everyone, It’s not going anywhere–that’s one of those things like. With fashion and beauty, all that stuff is trendy and I might be able to get into the fashion business–but one day I’m going to grow older and no one’s really going to know my name anymore. Yet, real estate is not going anywhere. I was attracted to real estate for so many reasons, but one being the longevity of it. It’s not about being a celebrity or looking cute. It’s literally not going anywhere. It’s something I can pass down to my kids, I can teach my boys about real estate investing. It helps people build generational wealth, there’s just so many great things about getting into real estate investing and there are so many ways you can get into it.
You said you’ve been through the ups and downs of dealing with real estate, and as we all know, that can’t be a success story without the setbacks. What were some obstacles you face while going along your journey?
Robyn: There’s a few different elements of real estate investing, and my mom started off wholesaling, which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that term, but I think people should educate themselves on that because that’s one way to get into real estate investing. It’s where you find properties and a buyer for that property. You make money wholesaling as a commission, not you’re not a real estate agent because they’re mostly properties that aren’t on the market — they might be abandoned or vacant or going through some sort of tech-sale foreclosure.
You find those properties and you find an investor who wants to rehab that property while you make a little commission. We started off doing that for a while and it wasn’t until we did a few wholesale deals where we felt comfortable getting to the actual rehabbing business, which I mean–I can just say in my first Rehab Project, which we see it on the show, you see me acquire the property in season three and in season four, you’ll see us finishing it. It took us a lot longer than we anticipated. We spent more money than we anticipated. We struggled with contractors. Anytime you’re dealing with a rehab project, you’re dealing with contractors, which in of itself is very stressful. We went through doing certain things that didn’t need to be done.
When it’s like your first time or first few times rehabbing a house, it’s not ever going to be perfect. But, the thing that my mom and I took away from it was that we learned along the way. I’m grateful that it wasn’t perfect, I’m grateful for the setbacks that we had in our own project because at the end we walked away learning something. So even though I experienced setbacks in my first flip, we came out successful and we learned a ton. Once we start on the next one, which will be very soon, we can apply all the learning experiences that we had from the previous project so it will be more efficient. There are setbacks always in life, but if you’re willing to learn from them, grow from them, and acknowledge “okay, this is where I went wrong,” they’re actually amazing. I’m grateful for those setbacks.
What do you feel like is the importance of investing, especially in a time where we encourage the black community to “buy back the block?”
Robyn: Investing in our community and buying back the block — all those phrases that we hear now are more important than ever. I’m from Baltimore and so I choose to focus on Baltimore when flipping properties.
You have vacant houses or you look at properties and they’re boarded up and there’s grass growing everywhere and trash everywhere. That doesn’t foster a positive environment where you can feel good about yourself or where you want to do better things for yourself. If we’re allowing our black people in the inner city to continue to live in neighborhoods that aren’t taken care of, we’re not helping them grow, we’re not helping them see. It’s hard to blossom and to grow when everything around you is rundown. So, what’s important to me is for people to see nice things in their neighborhoods and to realize, “there is more out there for me and my life, I can live in a nicer home, I don’t have to live in this rundown area. Or, my neighborhood doesn’t have to look like this.”
People will start to take care of their neighborhoods and have more pride in their neighborhoods and where they live. That, for me, is the most part. I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight, but it can be a gradual process. We want our black communities to experience home ownership, take pride, and continue to build their own businesses. I think that’s just the start. If we don’t support each other, who else is going to support us?
The same goes for investing and reinvesting in your communities. If we’re not going to do it for ourselves or for each other, no one else was going to do it. You might have other ethnicities that come into our neighborhood and put businesses there, but they’re not giving back to our community. They’re not employing our people in our communities. If we don’t do it, who will?
Your hand in women’s empowerment and professional development events is one of the many things we love about you. Why do you feel that it’s important to share the knowledge you gained along your journey with other women? Do you feel like it makes a difference?
Robyn: I love hosting my women’s empowerment events, because there are so many women out here that are so talented and gifted and smart, but there’s also a lot of women that are working in jobs because they “have to,” and because they’re scared to step out on their own and to start their own business. Yet, we’re so powerful, we can do so many things.
Imparting that knowledge and to say, “You can do this. If you have an idea, if you have a passion, you can start your own business and this is how you can do it, and it doesn’t have to happen overnight,” while giving them the tools and the motivation to want to be entrepreneurs is such a blessing for me.
I spent a few years when I was married, just being a housewife and living comfortably because my husband made a great amount of money. I took care of the house, I cleaned, and I cooked — but I wasn’t doing anything for myself. In the long run, I wasn’t helping my family, because when it came down to it and we lost a lot of money and we were in a place of struggle, I couldn’t necessarily help my family because I hadn’t been working “like that.”
I worked part time doing events and PR, I always kind of stayed busy, but outside of that being in a position where it’s like, “oh my gosh, we’ve lost everything and there’s nothing I can do at this moment to help,” was very humbling. It was very eye opening and that’s where I started my journey on wanting more for myself and as a woman, realizing we are so much more powerful than we think we are. As long as we seek the knowledge, open our mouths, and tell people what it is we’re trying to do–your path will open up for you.
I’ve had women who have attended my events, follow up with me and say, I’ve done what you told me to do and I’ve been able to get more customers is very fulfilling to me. People want knowledge and motivation to know that “I can do this on my own.”
What advice would you give to our readers looking to one day invest in real estate and be their own BAUCE by flipping property?
Robyn: I tell everyone, “don’t think you have to hit a home run the first time.” Be prepared to start small and grow, because that’s where you learn. You buy by building and starting small and growing, that’s how you learn. So don’t think “okay, I’m going to get into real estate and make $100,000 right away.”
No, be okay with making $5,000, $10,000, $15,000–because one day down the line you might be profiting $300,000 a year. The word “investing” in real estate makes people think bigger than what it has to be. Don’t be afraid to start small, grow, and take baby steps. Otherwise, people end up biting off more than they can chew and failing. So, just take your time. Nothing great comes easily, start small and grow from there.
“The Real Housewives of Potomac” airs Sundays at 8PM ET/PT on Bravo.