This agent spotlight will be focused on the incredibly dedicated, Maribel Chacon-Torres! Maribel started her career as a marketing executive but we are fortunate she later decided to pick up real estate as one of her many passions. On top of working side-by-side with her clients, she also spends a huge part of her life involved with charities. She even created her own shoe, FASSO, in support of and to shed light on autism. She plans to continue supporting many other charities in the future and was even recently asked to create a scholarship program for 2 high schools. Keep reading for the full interview with Maribel.
What made you choose real estate as your next career?
As a past marketing executive, real estate felt like the most logical next step in my career as it has all the elements of what I love doing—connecting with people, showcasing a product, in this case, the properties, changing lives and creating possibilities while helping people. I have always been involved in real estate in one form or another as an investor, homeowner, and also a consultant to other realtors. It just made sense for me to follow my passion and really be involved in every aspect of real estate. Also, I love meeting new people with every home that I sell, showcase and explore.
You recently worked with the Chicago Autism Network to collect shoes for families who can’t afford therapy to help their children, have you worked with this charity before and what was your experience like?
The Chicago Autism Network is an organization that helps autistic children who cannot afford therapy. It is a new organization and they are trying hard to help combat the costs for families. I believe that each child should get the resources to help them be successful. So, knowing that therapies are out of reach for most who do not have insurance or cannot afford it makes me want to help as much as I can. The organization needed used shoes for their cause to get money so I went to my friends and family and got as many shoes as I possibly could to help them out. It was interesting to provide more information about autism to many people who didn’t realize how it is growing, what it is, and the spectrum of autism. I was surprised that many people weren’t aware and by our conversation about shoes, they were happy to give me more shoes and support a good cause.
What was the story behind the creation/design of the Fasso shoes?
The creation behind FASSO is simple. Fasso stands for Fun, Ambitious, Smart, Secure and Open-Minded…it was an acronym I had for many years. It only made sense that autistic people and those who love them have these qualities so I name the brand with them in mind. Since I had so much fun with the shoe drive, I found a place to design shoes. I want to spread the word about autism and how we can speak more openly about it and not be afraid of it or judge it. The shoes are the beginning… I want people to know that when you see these shoes, the person wearing them supports autism and/or has a person they love with autism. Also, the shoe is the invitation to have a conversation if you are curious without any judgment. I want to wear them to spread the word and be an ambassador for autism for those who cannot speak for themselves. The shoe is made out of leather and suede. The white line represents purity, the red inside is for loving someone who has autism, the blue suede and leather is the official color for Autism. The packaging also has meaning. The blue (Autism color), the apple is for beginnings, children, “think different”, and the paint covering it is how it is taking over the world and how we should be aware.
You do a great job juggling all of your projects, whether it’s working with clients, charities, or your own shoe design, what motivates you on the busiest/ most difficult days?
It is very difficult juggling so much, but I have a drive and my why! If you have a purpose and a big “why”, you simply lose track of time and manage to get a lot done. I want to make sure that each day I am alive, I make a difference, whether it is with my work, in a person, in a situation –whatever it is, I make the day count. If I created a smile for my kids or someone I just met, no matter how hard the day was- that smile will be with me when I go to sleep. It is basically that simple. I just want to make a difference and leave the world a little bit better than the day before.
Do you have plans for any future charity ideas?
Absolutely. I have always given my time, money and skills to many charities, businesses, and people. I love helping people and giving as much as I can in various areas. It keeps me humble. I give anonymously. I shed away from the limelight and have never told anyone of all my contributions. However, this year I was asked by high schools to create my own Scholarship. I was honored to be asked and will be creating 2 types of Scholarship programs to give hope to future students and help them go to college. I’m excited to create these two Scholarships and present them in 2020 to students of Morton East and Morton West Highschool in Cicero and Berwyn.
In addition, I will continue to create fashion designs, jewelry, bracelets, shoes, shirts in some form or another to contribute to autism. The shoes are the beginning but I have to really tackle the costs down so that more people can afford them. Fashion seems to be the best way to get people involved in a message, and my message is to get more people to be kind and inclusive of autism. We never know what one is going through in life…and we must remember to be patient and be understanding of each other. If you don’t know, ask, and if you are asked provide the information or resources.
What’s something you wish people knew more about in relation to the charities you’ve worked with and/or something you learned in your time with them?
Great question…I wish people understood that charities are developed to help people who cannot for some reason or another do something for themselves. It isn’t because they don’t want to, or are lazy. It is something that is beyond their limitations, education, financial ability or lack of something beyond their means or control. Charities are designed to help. They do not make money, they create opportunities to provide information, direction or resources for as many people as they can. They are resources that are not in existence but are needed. When I see that a charity needs something and I have to contribute I find a way to make time for it. If we each took the time to make a little contribution, believe me, that one dollar you won’t miss makes the difference to a goal for someone else and a light of hope to many!
What is one tip you would give to someone aspiring to become a real estate agent?
Take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and take one step at a time. In all seriousness, real estate is harder than it looks. There is a lot behind the scenes that most people will never see unless you are a real estate professional. We make it look easy and effortless because that is our job. But, it is also a rewarding career. The people you meet will become your friends…what other career gives you an extended family? I have had many careers and this is one of the most rewarding and the most exhilarating for sure!
For more information on our agent spotlight, Maribel Chacon-Torres: