In her early 20s, Kristin Francis, with Keller Williams Realty, was just getting her professional life off the ground. She supported herself financially by 17, and by 19, she had landed a steady job as a government marketing contractor.

One day, one of Kristin’s coworkers delivered big news: she was buying a house. Kristin discovered that this woman was buying alongside her sister, and they had financial assistance from their parents. Kristin assessed her own background; she was born in a low-income family with humble beginnings — and no one to help fund the purchase of a home for her. “We had less than nothing at times financially,” Kristin reflects.

However, Kristin’s insatiable curiosity was piqued by real estate. She began researching what was possible. “I thought, ‘If she can do it, so can I.’ And, lo and behold, I could.”

Up and Running

At 24, Kristin bought her first property — a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo. She utilized a VHDA loan, which offered 100 percent financing. “So I only had to come up with a little bit of money, which I did. It still felt like an awful amount of money to me. But I scraped it together and clawed my way into my first condo,” Kristin remembers.

Two years later, Kristin sold the property for a $100,000 profit. “When I did that, all of my friends who were also 23 or 24 said, ‘How did you do that?’ So I taught them how to do it.”

After giving several friends free advice, Kristin had a small epiphany — she could get paid for her work as a real estate agent. “The whole trajectory of my life was changed.”

Over the next several years, Kristin made her way through a few other jobs. She landed at a subsidiary of PBS, which is where she “tripped into sales.” As she says, “I always avoided sales, but I naturally found myself there. I had a wonderful female mentor who taught me to be fierce and taught me strategy.”

Failing Forward

Once Kristin acknowledged she was skilled at sales, she got her real estate license. As an investor, she knew it would benefit her. “When I left corporate America at the end of 2012, my goal was to make $50,000 a year, which was just lifestyle money. I had a baby and said I was going to stay home, make some money for vacations. What resulted was me failing at being a stay-at-home mom. I tried, and I failed,” Kristin laughs. “I accidentally succeeded in real estate. I built a little empire for myself and others.”

After she gave birth to her second child, Kristin found herself in the thick of a real estate business that kept her working at all hours. She eventually realized that it was unsustainable. Kristin responded by getting creative and starting a team without much foresight. “I spent a couple of years failing forward. There’s a big difference between being a great REALTOR® and a great leader. Once I finally figured it out, it took off,” Kristin remembers. “The awesome benefit to that is not only the ancillary businesses born from it but the opportunity created for others.”

In 2021, Kristin’s real estate team of 13 women is tracking to close over $60 million. She also owns a construction management firm, has a portfolio of investment properties, and co-owns a staging company. One of her big goals is to open more ancillary businesses — offering the opportunity of business ownership to others.

Living Her Best Life

Over the past several years, Kristin has even more fully embraced the quirky sides of her being. She now has rainbow-colored hair — not exactly your typical “real estate agent look.”

“I’ve really come to embrace the extra I am the last few years. Shenanigans is my middle name,” Kristin beams. “I like fun and funny. I don’t take myself too seriously, and I take the business very seriously. We’re the same on the family front.”

This past summer, for example, Kristin took her family of five on a two-and-a-half-month road trip around the country in an RV; she stopped at every major city to connect with a top agent. “I got to see the country and learn from the best of the best.”

As Kristin steps into the future, she hopes to continue embracing who she is, enjoying life, and running a thriving business. You might see her driving to her next appointment in her family SUV or perhaps the 2000 BMW Z3 she bought at 24 and still owns. Or even better yet, you may see her driving the ice cream truck she purchased just to give things away in her neighborhood.

“Because I grew up without much, it’s important for me to elevate people who didn’t start on equal footing. I’m committed to being the person who can create opportunities. That’s what I wake up for every day. And also, shenanigans. I love to make people laugh.”