Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms weekly Meet a Mom series where we feature one local mama, what they’re up to both personally and professionally. And this week we’d like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to our brand new Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Law Firm. Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities!
This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Wilmette resident of twin girls and Sales Manager at Wolf Development Strategies, Tara Giles (Insta)! Tara chats about life as a twin mama, what it’s like in real estate right now and how lifting other moms up is her jam! Welcome, Tara!
Hi Tara! Please introduce yourself. What brought you to the North Shore?
I grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana – so not far from Chicago. I moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College and have been in Chicagoland ever since – almost 20 years in the city and now going on 2 years in the North Shore in Wilmette. There is no better place to be in my opinion. Chicago has it all – a top notch dining scene, miles of lakefront beaches, rich culture and history, top sports teams (Go Cubs!!!), and an energy that is just unparalleled.
We were originally hesitant to move to the suburbs, but I instantly fell in love with the North Shore and it’s gorgeous beaches, parks, proximity to the city, and incredible schools and park districts. I live in Kenilworth Gardens and we have the best neighbors and sense of community. We have been so happy with our decision to move here!
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have twin girls – Avery & Isla – who will be 4 years old in March. Avery is strong-willed, sassy, outgoing, and 3 going on 15. 😊 Isla is sweet and sensitive and a little more cautious. They couldn’t be more different yet they complement each other perfectly.
Twins! Tell us about what it’s like juggling two littles the same age. What tricks and tips have you learned?
Raising twins is no joke! Having two kids going through the same developmental stages simultaneously can be overwhelming (especially at our current “threenager” stage). But as cliché as it sounds, the rewards truly do outweigh the challenges. They are best friends, their bond is super strong, and I am so excited to watch it get stronger and stronger as they grow up. My biggest tips for new twin moms is to accept help from your support system and to make sure to take care of yourself. I am 100% Type A so it was hard for me but much easier once I realized I could not do everything. Self care is so important.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Being a working mom – just having someone that is so excited to see you when you walk through the door at night is priceless. Seeing life through their eyes and observing their excitement for new things is just the best. As much as there may be times when I complain about lack of sleep or “me time” – I wouldn’t want it any other way. I really do love the chaos!
Do you have any mom tips to make quarantine/COVID life a little easier?
My biggest tip is to give yourself a grace. Parenting is hard enough; let alone throwing a global pandemic into the mix! No one is perfect – no matter what it may seem like on Instagram. Pick your battles and understand that while this new lifestyle of social distancing, working from home, etc. is hard for you – it’s also hard for your kids.
Look at the bright side! I would never have thought in a million years that I would have the opportunity to spend so much time with my kiddos during this stage of my life. Sure it has been challenging – but it has also brought our family closer together.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you…
That I have a near encyclopedic memory of the Chicago street grid system. Name me an intersection and chances are I can tell you what hundred block it is! Useful for work, sure, but it also makes for a pretty neat parlor trick at parties!
LOL, that’s actually quite useful! Any city favorite takeout restaurants?
Longitud315, Tocco, Convito Café, and Sophia Steak just to name a few. And for pizza I am a big fan of Lefty’s!
You’re in Real Estate! Was this something you’ve always been interested in or did it happen organically?
It happened organically for me. I spent most of my 20’s working in the restaurant/hospitality industry. At 28, I helped a few friends find apartments and realized that I really enjoyed it. My strong knowledge of Chicago neighborhoods and what they each had to offer made me a great resource, so I decided to try it out as a career. As I got older, the renters I had focused on and helped naturally turned into buyers. I have done everything from helping those looking to rent, to working on new high-rise developments downtown, and helping first time homebuyers find their dream home. I just made the move from Bucktown to Wilmette about 2 years ago myself – so I especially love working with those that are interested in making the move to the North Shore from the city but don’t know where to start. As a parent, there is a lot to consider and it is important to have someone that understands what is important to you.
What are you doing with Real Estate now?
I work for Wolf Residential Group/ Wolf Development Strategies – a residential brokerage and full-service development advisory, marketing and sales firm for luxury real estate developments across the U.S. and started with the company last fall. I am currently the Sales Manager for a beautiful new luxury condo development in the Printer’s Row neighborhood, The Reed at Southbank. The Reed will feature 216 condominiums. It is located right on the riverfront and has stunning views and incredible amenities.
What’s a day in the life as a Sales Manager like for you?
I typically start my day by reading industry news and checking out new listings while I drink my coffee. I am a morning person and this is the most peaceful part of my day before everyone else in my house is up and the chaos begins. Once I arrive at the office, the rest of my day consists of both in-person and virtual presentations to both prospective buyers and also other brokers, as well as meetings with the developer to discuss marketing, strategy, and give them feedback. We have definitely had to adjust the way we sell. Normally when launching sales for a new development – you would throw parties and have packed open houses. That has obviously shifted with Covid and we are now conducting private, socially distant showings and utilizing our advanced virtual tools more than ever.
It seems like the corporate development world has been hit hard by the pandemic. How has real estate development pivoted with the huge increase in people working remote?
While office development has taken a hit due to the pandemic, residential development has seen significant demand as people reconsider how they utilize their residences and work from home more. Developers quickly adapted to provide consumers with features that focus on working from home, health and wellness, outdoor spaces, and amenities that allow for both spaced-out communal use, as well as, private-use when desired. While the single family home market in suburban areas like the North Shore are incredibly hot, the downtown condo market is keeping pace and 2021 is shaping up to be a great year for residential Real Estate.
Who are your influencers and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today and/or continue to inspire you?
Honestly, strong women inspire me. I’m a big fan of the saying “Be the woman who fixes another woman’s crown without telling the world it was crooked.” Women lifting other women up is my jam. To name a few women that I feel embody this: Chrissy Teigen, Michelle Obama, my own mother and my sister.
You mentioned that lifting other moms up is your jam. Us too! What are one or two examples of how you helped lift up a friend, coworker, client, etc?
I managed sales teams with my last company that consisted of both new and seasoned agents. I pride myself on being a manager that instills confidence and cares about my team members. When managing someone early in their Real Estate career – I help them to realize their potential and give them the tools and guidance they need to make them successful. I have empathy and respect for my team members – which is important as a leader.
I also really try to help out new moms whenever I can – friends, neighbors, and even strangers. I never realized how hard it is until I had children of my own, but it really does take a village. When a new mom is tired, overwhelmed, and lonely – just letting them know you are there and that you understand goes a long way. Sometimes just talking to another mom that knows what they are going through makes a huge difference!