When Altruism Meets Investing
Princess A. Hairston
Princess A. Hairston
Princess A. Hairston is aptly named – she is effervescent, passionate about many subjects – and juggles a hecticly rewarding life.
She is a creative disruptor and inclusion activist who runs Straight Path Pictures, her video production company in Brooklyn, NY. Her days are jam-packed with everything from video editing, advocacy for Black and Brown causes, to working on documentaries for Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu, and running a badass real estate empire.
“I’m just moving and shaking like an entrepreneur!”
Hairston’s first entry into real estate was purchasing her own home in Brooklyn, a . This move that shocked her parents and many friends, because, for them, it seemed unattainable, especially for a Black woman.
Hairston did not grow up with what she called a “financial education,” so she picked up tidbits on saving and investing by watching others and her quest to own a home began at work, where she was the only Black woman., She noticed that most of her coworkers either owned homes, or were in the process of buying one, and that they tended to invest money into things that would grow, rather than spending it on fleeting material items. . Watching her co-workersbuild wealth for their families through real estate inspired Hairston to want to do the same for herself.
I’m not going to move around New York and make other people wealthy by giving them rent money.
Restless at work, Hairston also entertained serious thoughts of starting her own company. She longed to work on documentaries instead of commercials, but also knew the odds of being promoted in an environment that historically favored white (and sometimes Asian) men. Pragmatism won over restlessness because she wanted to ensure she had purchased a home before quitting her job.
“I ate one meal on the weekends.
“No, I ate one meal. I would get free food at my main job, and I would bring some snacks from my first job to my overnight job. I tried not to spend any money. The only thing I spent money on was my one meal, and paying my godmother rent. I slept on her air mattress for almost a year.”
Determined to avoid negative energy of naysayers, Hairston chose her circle carefully and did not often speak abouther goals. She didn’t even tell her parents about her quest to purchase a home until a month before settlement. She wanted to achieve this goal by herself, and without interruption.
Hairston’s strict self-discipline and laser-focus on building her financial future paid off in 2011 when she purchased a beautiful brownstone in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Having accomplished the first goal, she moved on to the next and quickly quit her job and started her own production company.
These big moves opened the door to additional real estate investments.When a friend in the film industry presented an opportunity to invest in properties in Detroit, she was intrigued and began researching opportunities. She ,eventually made a trip out to Detroit with her friend and a group of 8 like-minded, soon-to-be real estate investors.
In December of 2018, Hairston purchased a two-family flat in Detroit for $7,000. She notes the price was right, but the distressed property needed a lot of work. During her research, Hariston learned that many houses in Detroit were left abandoned due to the remnants of systemic racism and a history of corruption in local government. She also knew that the perception of inner-city Black communities is often negative, but these challenges only motivated her to learn and do more.
“People will say, ‘oh that is such a dangerous neighborhood.’ But this is my family. I’m not afraid of African American communities and have no problem investing in them. I see the beauty in the struggle. I see the beauty in the fight and survival. I see the beauty in making people respect you. I say, ‘yes Lord, let me get to knowing these folks.’ I don’t want to be a cold investor.”
Hairston purchased more properties in Detroit before learning about the Better Than Success (BTS) Real Estate League in late 2019 when , a friend told her about a BTS seminar she had ’ attended. Hairston began to research BTS and then started attending weekly meetings. She continues to enjoy the support BTS provides.
“I like that the group is led by a Black woman, and . the inclusivity. It’s just so meaningful to see people who look like you working to build a financially stable life. I love seeing us obtaining assets and working together to share knowledge.”
Although she had experience in real estate investing, Hairtston realized the information she learned on her own just wasn’t enough. BTS taught her how to “run the numbers,” giving her information on how to analyze financing deals from an investor’s perspective, – which is a game changer. Hairston singled this out as a marked difference between working with her Detroit group, and working with BTS.
“Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s the best deal!”
Hairston now owns properties in Philadelphia and Baltimore, and credits the methods she learned through BTS with her success. She has an eye on a financially-free future, which she hopes will include spending a year traveling throughout Africa, and providing well for her aging parents.
She says that real estate is a great way to create an income to accomplish many thingsendeavors.
“It’s not a walk in the park, but like anything, – once you put a system in place and do the work and research, you cannot lose. You have to be in a good mind space for prosperity. ”
“I do this from a lived experience as a Black American. I am very conscious of how I invest my dollars, and . my goal is to be able to have rentals that are safe, remodeled, and nice for Black folks. I’m going to put love into these properties and be a loving person to the people who rent from me.”