When we met Annie Cefaratti a couple of years ago and shared her story, we learned just how important community was to her, both personally and professionally. While a lot has changed in her business since then, including partnering with friend, colleague, and fellow community activist, Nikki Ryan, her passion for contributing to her community has remained constant.
In fact, now that Nikki has joined Annie as a partner at The Busy Blondes of Keller Williams Realty, they are able to give more than ever, both to their clients and the community. It’s how they each built their separate businesses in the past and how they do so together. “Connecting with the people in our community is what drives us,” Nikki explains. “We have both been a part of this community for 20-plus years and are here to facilitate events and connect people who may have similar causes to accomplish big things, all while serving our clients’ real estate needs.”
Coming Together as The Busy Blondes
Although Annie and Nikki worked as colleagues in the same Keller Williams office for 10 years, they really got to know each other through their philanthropic efforts and involvement in committees like the Agent Leadership Council. The more they worked together, the more they realized just how similar they were both personally and professionally. “We got very close during that time and saw how well our business visions aligned — which is ‘Doing the right thing all the time and giving back to our community,’” says Nikki.
Nikki and Annie often spoke of the concept of working together, based on collaboration, which was key for them. When the pandemic hit, it made a lot of sense for them to merge. “We can accomplish more together,” explains Annie. “In this real estate environment, collaboration includes dividing tasks to our team, which multiplies success for our clients. Two heads are better than one!”
While they individually had a slower start to 2020, prior to the merger and comparatively to previous years, once they partnered and developed a new business plan and strategy, they ended up selling $18 million together last year. Having reframed the infrastructure and branding of The Busy Blondes, which included hiring a transaction manager and a virtual assistant, and creating new branding, they were definitely a couple of BUSY BLONDES!
“We chose to focus on the color pink for our branding because we think that now is the time for women,” Nikki explains. “We want our business to show the female business entrepreneur can be feminine too. Women are very detail-oriented and are good at dealing with the emotional process of the transaction as well as the contractual and legal angles that are so critical to bringing a transaction to closing.”
Annie and Nikki emphasize that they are always available to their clients for whatever support is needed throughout the process, whether resolving HOA issues/violations, necessary contractor work, financing questions, legal questions and more. They work with a team of professionals that includes title attorneys, lenders, and contractors, who are at the ready to find solutions for their clients. Partnering has allowed Annie and Nikki to elevate their business to go above and beyond for their clients and offer the “white glove service,” on which they pride themselves. Most importantly, however, it has given them more time — time to help balance their lives and focus on the things that truly matter to them.
Annie and Nikki are both actively involved in their adult children’s lives and continue to look to the future with positivity. They are not only business partners, but close friends who like to spend time traveling, and having fun together and with their children. Annie’s son, who has cystic fibrosis, is thriving and recently purchased his own home — a proud mama moment for Annie! She is hoping to split her time between here, in Reston, and the beach, where she has a little getaway spot.
Time became a more serious focus when Nikki was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December 2020, causing her to reevaluate her future and what that looked like for her. “That was a real curveball,” says Annie, “but we solidified our business together, cared for each other first, managed through the process and became closer through it.” Many people rallied around Nikki and offered their support, including Nikki’s adult children, friends, and the real estate community. Support flowed in the form of flowers, notes, meals, gifts, and rides, allowing Nikki to heal and their business to continue to thrive. “Everyone wanted to help!” Annie and Nikki emphasize. “We are ever so grateful to everyone who lent their support!”
Thankfully, Nikki’s tumor was successfully removed at The John Hopkins Hospital, where Nikki started her nursing career before working in real estate. Having spent so many years caring for people as a nurse, Nikki found her transition into real estate and caring for her clients a natural evolution.
Coming from Contribution
The Busy Blondes’ true passion is coming from contribution, whether that be philanthropically or helping clients through their real estate transactions. “We realize that when it comes to buying or selling homes, while we do this every day, it is an infrequent process for the client, so we carefully walk our clients through every step.”
Their desire to help food insecure families in their local community, which they do frequently through food drives, is of great importance to Annie and Nikki. “We are grateful that the success of our partnership has allowed for us to give back more to our community,” says Nikki.
As a united front in business, as well as in philanthropy now, it will be exciting to see all that Annie and Nikki will achieve together.