How to go into business with Mom

Going into the real estate business with her mom wasn’t something Kortnie Hudgens was planning on. But three years ago, her plans changed.

Kortnie grew up in Bangor and left to attend the University of Southern Maine, where she met her boyfriend, Nick Mullins. As graduation approached for Mullins, he began his job search in the Portland area and found the competition to be fierce — so they started looking in Bangor.

“Everything just fell into place. My boyfriend found a job and my mother offered me an assistant job while I finished up school. Then it just blossomed from there,” said Kortnie.

Kortnie and Renee Hudgens (Steven Gray photo)

Kortnie and Renee Hudgens (Steven Gray photo)

Her mother, Renee Hudgens, has been in the real estate business since 2007. Before that she owned and operated Chez Renee, a retail business in Bangor. Renee is now an associate broker with Realty of Maine in Bangor, leading “Team Chez Renee,” which also includes Kortnie.

The timing was right for Renee to bring her daughter into the business.

“I was at a pivotal point in my career with too much business to handle without an assistant. She had gone to school for business and I knew she would be awesome,” Renee said.

But Renee said she was careful not to pressure her daughter to come into the business.

“I offered it as a stepping stone and if she didn’t like it she could find something else. I didn’t want to force her — but she loved it and she was good!”

Kortnie was so good, in fact, that she quickly moved from working as an assistant to becoming an active real estate agent. One of the challenges she had to overcome was being taken seriously by others.

“I knew I needed to create my own identity and not just have people think that ‘Mommy’ gave me a job and I have it easy,” she said.

She overcame that challenge by proving she has what it takes to be successful. She became involved in the community and started teaching technology classes for other real estate agents.

“I’ve been able to show them that I knew what I was talking about and I was willing to share my knowledge.” Kortnie said.

That knowledge has been of great benefit to the business as it has grown.

“Mom had already established her name in the real estate game when I came in. I helped to establish systems and get everything in order,” said Kortnie.

Renee added that Kortnie has helped her understand and connect with a new generation.

“These are the new buyers,” Renee said. “I need to know how they tick!”

As Mom learns from her daughter, Kortnie is learning from Mom.

“Watching her take a chance with the store and growing that business from nothing and then watching her completely re-establish herself at the age of 40 was inspiring. She taught me, you have to be a go-getter. You can’t just wait around for success,” Kortnie said.

Any successful business relationship requires solid communication and professionalism. That holds true when a mother and daughter are in business together.

“For us, the most important thing has been finding out how each other works and makes decisions. My mother is not one for change without a solid plan. I can’t just throw something at her and demand it. We need to work together if we want to do something new. Every decision we make — we make together,” said Kortnie.

“We value what each other brings to the table,” Renee added. “I value her opinion and insight. It’s nice to have someone looking at issues with a different eye.”

It can be challenging to separate your professional and personal lives when you are in business with a family member. Kortnie and Renee say they work hard to do that.

“Mom and I do a really good job at separating our personal and business life. We try our best to keep our personal life at home,” said Kortnie.

Renee added that it’s important to get the business structure down in writing, then make time for being a family.

“I’m always going to be “Mom” first! This job can be very time consuming so we have to have family time,” said Renee.

Renee said she loves working with her daughter.

“I’m so proud of her,” Renee said. “It can be so rewarding to work with your child. You actually get to see what a wonderful adult and friend they are!”

Kortnie said that working with Renee has been rewarding for her as well.

“It’s important to me to get away from the business and spend time together. I really want to go on a mother/daughter trip soon and just relax with my Mom – my best friend.”

Deb Neuman

About Deb Neuman

Deb thinks Maine is a great place to do business and loves telling the stories of Mainers proving that it can be done! An entrepreneur at heart, she enjoys helping others with the same drive to create and innovate!