A WORLD free from bias, stereotypes and discrimination – one that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive.

Today is International Women’s Day 2024 – a day aimed at promoting a gender equal world and inspiring inclusion.

It’s a day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination and take action to drive gender parity.

As a young woman starting her own business, Grace Gilbert has faced numerous challenges – distrust because she’s a young woman in the world of real estate.

Her estate agency – Grace Estates - recently sold its first property within three days of being on the market.

The young businesswoman set up Grace Estates in the summer of 2022 and has built up an ever-growing portfolio.

Grace quit her low paying apprenticeship role at the age of 18 with no savings and with plans to start Grace Estates.

The past year has been “an amazing and challenging adventure” but Grace wants to show other young people that it is never too early to start a business in a field which they are passionate about.

Here, Grace, who lives in Appleton, shares some of those experiences and tells us how she overcame these difficulties to be successful in such a short space of time.

Grace Estates launched in the summer of 2022

Grace Estates launched in the summer of 2022

When Grace was nine, she met a real estate agent while on holiday and found herself drawn to the profession.

Since then, she’s harboured a passion for the world of property and would often spend hours browsing listings on Rightmove, never imagining that one day, properties from her own company would feature on the website.

Grace is now 20 and owner of Grace Estates, which she launched in the summer of 2022.

Grace, who went to school in Great Budworth before briefly attending Priestley College for two months, said: “It was crucial for me to attach my name to something I could truly be proud of.

“Though I hadn't anticipated reaching this point at my current age, I've cherished every step of the journey, embracing both setbacks and triumphs.

“Surrounded by individuals with a keen business acumen while growing up, I've consistently admired the courage they exhibited in pursuing their goals.

“From the moment I embarked on my first role at an estate agency, I was already designing logos for Grace Estates, with a clear plan to bring that vision to life one day.”

Grace has an ever-growing portofolio of properties

Grace has an ever-growing portfolio of properties

At the beginning of her career, she wasn’t aware that she was in the minority and while there are many female-employed estate agents, female-owned agencies are relatively rare.

Grace said: “The industry tends to be male-dominated and highly competitive, which can make female-owned agencies easy targets for criticism from other agents.

“Nevertheless, I've learned to ignore their opinions and actions and stay focused on carving out my own journey.”

Over the past two years, Grace has consistently received positive feedback from clients and viewers but the same cannot be said for fellow estate agents.

Grace recently negotiated a sale that was 45 per cent higher than a fellow estate agent’s valuation within five days of listing the property on the market.

Grace said: “This undeniably rattled their professional demeanour.

“While I anticipated some discontent over them losing a listing, the behaviour exhibited by certain agents caught me off guard.

“Resorting to making phone calls to my clients in an attempt to tarnish my reputation within the industry and insisting on removing my for sale boards strikes me as nothing short of immaturity and toxicity.

“While their attempt to disrupt my business was somewhat flattering, their time would be better invested in selling the homes they currently have listed.”

Age has occasionally posed a challenge for Grace particularly when she is up against agents with decades of experience, however clients quickly see her dedicated approach to the business leads to quick property sales.

Grace sold this property just a few days after putting it on the market

On of Grace's properties that she has on the market

Grace said: “There have been instances where individuals hesitated to work with a female agent initially, opting for another agency.

“Yet, they often circled back months later, reconsidering their decision.

“Trust is paramount in this industry and without recommendations, gaining trust takes time.”

So what advice would Grace give to young people wanting to do something a little bit different or at an earlier age to what is considered to be the norm?

Grace said: “Stop dreaming and start taking action!

“Embarking on a business venture is no easy feat, particularly given my own journey of launching a business at 18 and now overseeing three companies at 20.

“It's a demanding path.

“I highly recommend seeking out a mentor or supportive individual to guide you through the process.

“There will be numerous difficult days and instances where you contemplate giving up.

“Having someone to reinforce your initial drive will help sustain your momentum - networking groups in your field of work are great for this.”

One of Graces properties

One of Grace's properties

What do the next few months hold for Grace as she continues to pave the way in the world of real estate?

Grace said: “As the volume of sales activities in Cheshire grows, I wish to invite additional estate agents to engage via a self-employed module.

“Allowing more agents to join the team, each bringing their own unique insights and creative ideas, is expected to preserve the fresh and modern approach that I hold.

“I will also be an international estate agent - I will be marketing three developments of luxury villas in Cyprus.

“This opportunity, which I could not overlook, marks a significant milestone in my career.

“I am eager to apply my extensive marketing skills to contribute to their housing market.

“In light of the upcoming busy season for holiday rentals in Abersoch, I am in the process of developing a mobile and web application for the properties.

“Recognising the potential for growth in this aspect of my business, I feel this investment will improve efficiency greatly.

“Grace Estates stands as the primary holder of chalet inventory for rental in Abersoch, surpassing five other prominent companies in the area.”