International Women's Day 2022 –
The Success Series: Christina Meyer
The Success Series is designed to shine a light on the women breaking boundaries. Entrepreneurship is in Christina Meyer’s blood. Founder of Christina Meyer Homes and with family links to London’s first bookmaker, it seems the passion for risk-taking has been inherited.
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Natural-born risk taker
Christina’s first foray into business was certainly a risky one. Aged 12, on a school trip, she cut the fabric of a pair of tartan curtains, made scarves and sold them to school friends. A year later, at just 13, she gained employment in a neighbourhood café where she was regularly left in charge.
However, at age 20 her best friend passed away and at 21 she was told she has three months to live. Something in her changed.
“It was a mistake. I did live. But if I took risks before, this made me completely fearless”.
It’s this fearlessness that has propelled Christina’s portfolio career spanning recruitment, software, art, sustainable timber and of course, most recently, property.
With amazing foresight, Christina has an exceptional ability for recognising developing trends and jumping in with both feet.
While working in IT recruitment and software, she recognised that the industry was growing and changing. Taking the leap, she set up her own software house and training consultancy based in the City to support corporate adopters of Oracle software. Going by Chris, “Oh, you’re a woman” was not an uncommon response, but as an expert working in technology, Christina quickly made a name for herself. The business grew to 40 employees and on completion of a big contract for the Lloyds Market, it was sold to a large American firm.
“When I set the business up, I told the universe I want to sell this in five years, and I absolutely did it to the day.”
Not sure what to do next, and yet again demonstrating an unnerving intuition, Christina set about opening a coffee shop in an ex-brothel in Soho.
“It was the 90s and there was no Starbucks, no Costa Coffee. I thought I’d save the building. But I received phones calls from all sorts of characters, I was on my own and it was a bit scary. I lost my nerve.”
But this didn’t hold her back.
Other ventures included sustainable timber. By 2004, an incredible 50% world’s forest had gone in 50 years, creating an urgent need to rethink how to look after the planet. Christina saw the opportunity to change current behaviours and was the first to bring sustainable hardwood into England. “It is changing now, but again I was too early”. Despite a high profile, “we were elected to the Olympics on the Timber panel and invited to St James Palace with the WWF Forest Trade Network to meet Prince Charles.”, they couldn’t make the business work. “It was heart-breaking. We couldn’t change consciousness.”
Christina Meyer Homes
However, Christina continues to walk the talk. Sustainability remains one of Christina’s core values and her signature stained black oak floors in Christina Meyer Homes are made from FSC sustainable flooring. “There are no lacquers or chemicals. We use natural oils with a satin overlay.”
Having started with apartments in central London, and moving to blocks, Christina Meyer Homes now manages developments in Reading and Wokingham with a focus on transforming architecturally important grade II listed buildings into stunning homes. Christina recognises that she can see what others can’t:
“I listen to the building, really try to tune into what it needs, not carve it up and leave it as natural as possible.”
Where others see leaking pipes, broken tiles and years of neglect, Christina sees the warm, welcoming home she knows she can create.
Christina is passionate about the arts and charitable causes and particular The Brain Tumour Charity which is close to her heart.
Christina’s interest in the arts also brought her to contemporary art. Understanding the pitfalls of diving into the market without guidance – there isn’t always a resale value for art - Christina approached artist turned adviser, Greg Rook Advisory. Christina focuses on female artists, particularly those who are young or overlooked and identified as thoughtful and progressive.
Over the past four years she has made some great investments and has seen paintings in her beautiful collection increase 10-fold in value with artists now appearing in museums and galleries internationally. “It’s a fascinating world and it’s a really enjoyable experience.”
Recognising that she didn’t always have the support of a mentor, Christina wants to help the next generation of entrepreneurs. Her advice?
“First, you have to be passionate and very persistent. You also have to enjoy people, want to know them and know their story.”
She plans to spend more time with her family in Portugal where she is creating a space they can enjoy and feel safe. Although she admits she’s “seen a few opportunities”, so the entrepreneurial calling is still strong.
“There’s this wonderful quote from Clint Eastwood, who is still directing in his 90s. He says he wakes up every day and doesn’t let the old man in, and I feel very similar. I don’t even go there with the age. I don’t let it in. I will never stop. I’ll always be doing something interesting.”
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