Team Diva power couple Kim Colaprete and Chavi Hohm take on social issues as part of real estate career
Welcome to Divaland! It’s the Seattle-based exciting, energy-filled, hard working, client loving, and world-changing world of Coldwell Banker Bain’s unstoppable Team Diva. Founders Kim Colaprete and Chavi Hohm, a married lesbian couple, have embraced a never-stop mentality filled with social media, politics, and a people-first approach that has put them front and center in the Seattle real estate world and beyond.
Jersey Girl Kim moved to Seattle in 1988 with her then boyfriend to do community organizing for healthcare and education issues for Washington Citizen Action. She moved onto campaign work and eventually took her organizing and lobbying skill to the Northwest AIDS Foundation, now LifeLong AIDS Alliance, where she worked during most of the 90’s fighting for HIV and AIDS issues. She met her wife Chavi, a self-described “Southern Oregon child of hippies” while working at the Foundation. The two eventually saw their friendship blossom into a now 20-year relationship.
Kim entered the real estate world in 1999 and immediately took a marketing/ branding class, where she learned quickly to “separate yourself from the crowd!” Thus, her Seattle Real Estate Diva moniker was born. Chavi, soon after, also left the non-profit world and went the corporate route where she worked for Washington Mutual and then Starbucks in project management.
“We always talked about partnering together in real estate and set a goal for making the shift in November 2008,” Chavi said. “But life changes things. I just finished delivering a huge project at Starbucks that March, but my manager at the time told me I was inept. I said, ‘that’s fine – I quit!’ He didn’t believe me. But I was serious. I quit. Looking back, if I had waited until November, I never would have done it because the recession hit and I’m financially very conservative.”
You can already imagine these two, now known as Team Diva, didn’t fold up their tents. Instead the recession fueled their real estate rise.
“We really had no choice but to re-invent ourselves” Kim said. “Although I did pretty well as a solo agent, Chavi joining me changed everything. So we put it all on the table. While others were reeling from the downturn we were figuring out how to work together and in turn, figuring out this new real estate environment.”
The two realized they had to be true to themselves and their non-traditional brand and decided to integrate all aspects of their community into their Diva world. This included bears, drag queens, go-go boys, power lesbians, the arts community, and non-profits. They focused on creating opportunities to connect with people that had nothing to do with real estate. They also fully embraced email marketing and social media as early adopters and became one of the first in the industry to embrace Yelp and video.
“We were at an open house and a super nice trans fella told us that we needed to be on Yelp,” Chavi said. “We had a lot of clients using Yelp so it was easy for us to get started. We did email marketing as an early form of blogging and remained focused on people and issues. And our videos? We just decided to have fun and not try to copy what other folks were doing.”
“We are in a creative community and wanted to highlight our world,” Kim added. “One of Seattle’s well known drag queens, DonnaTella Howe, was a friend of ours and now, Michael (aka DonnaTella) is a crucial member of our team. Early on we asked her to be in some of our videos, we endorsed the fight for marriage equality, threw fundraisers with our drag and burlesque pals and generally just embraced our community. It wasn’t because someone said, ‘hey, if you do this you will make money.’ It was because we decided long ago that being authentic and embracing ourselves and our community was the only way we were willing run our lives.”
And guess what? This approach worked for the business which now has Rocky Flowers, Roy Powell, Jr, Dorcas Bean, and Michael Jouver as part of Team Diva.
“We’ve never lost a single client and 65% of our business is non-LGBTQ,” Chavi said. “That side of the business loved us for being passionate. And our LGBTQ clients appreciated us even more. The only ones who don’t really get what we do are some folks in the real estate community. Some had a mindset that agents, or anyone in the business community, should not be taking political stances. That isn’t who we are.”
“We completely disagreed,” Kim said finishing and extending her wife’s sentence. “In our business, being true to who you are should always come first. Why be afraid to lose business when you know your clients value who you are? And in valuing you, they will in turn value the issues that are important to you. Or at least, respect you for being passionate and authentic.”
These two have focused on LGBTQ issues in Seattle and Washington State including marriage equality, diversity, and transgender issues and more recently were vocal supporters of Hillary Clinton.
“When NAR wrote its letter supporting Ben Carson, who openly mocked LGBT rights, and NAGLREP condemned that decision, Kim and I knew we had to immediately get active in NAGLREP, embrace the community nationally, attend the conference, and increase exposure for NAGLREP. Our community rights are just too important.”
A conversation with NAGLREP founder Jeff Berger has now unleashed their positive force within the organization. “Holy cow! These two have ENERGY!” Jeff said.
So here they come already working to establish an Ambassador program to support the October conference and everything NAGLREP.
“Coldwell Banker just announced GenBlue will be at the same time in Vegas” Chavi said. “But we will figure out a way and be in Palm Springs too.”
“This year, NAGLREP is a priority to Team Diva!”