Raised in Tompkins County, New York, in the Finger Lakes region, Ashley Klein eventually made her way to Colorado Springs, where she now lives and works in real estate as a new-build sales consultant. Klein is the daughter of a taxidermist who owned an archery shop for 15 years. Her mother works for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University, after 20 years in human resources.
“They live in a cabin my dad handbuilt himself. It’s a big A-frame with lots of windows on 7 acres of land,” Klein said. “I always grew up in log cabins. They are thinking of moving out here, though. I’m very close with them; I’m an only child.”
Klein graduated from Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “They were actually Top 7 in the country for hospitality schools,” Klein said. “They gave me the opportunity to participate in internships by the time I was a sophomore until I graduated.”
After graduating, she worked as a hospitality coordinator at the Time Warner Center — now called the Deutsche Bank Center — in Manhattan. “I worked in the management office that oversaw the entire building, with tenants like Hugo Boss, Armani, Masa and Per Se. We set up events, including one with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. I once talked to Dennis Haysbert, the voice of Allstate’s commercials. I met Sting too; there was an event of concierges that he performed.
“New York City was fun, but too much. I’m more of a mountain person. Everyone in New York has blinders on, very focused, and can be brutal and unsympathetic. I was in a tiny apartment that didn’t have a living room, and that gets to you: being confined … and costs a lot of money.”
After burning out on hospitality, she considered flipping houses and decided to obtain a Colorado real estate license, knowing she would move here.
Klein talked with the Business Journal about interning in the former capital of the Inca Empire, moving to Colorado Springs, and how selling homes fulfills her.
In college, you had the opportunity to intern outside the States, correct?
I lived in Peru for three months, interning. That was quite the experience. I loved it, but it was difficult. Half my time was in Lima, at a JW Marriott — a five-star hotel, in the executive lounge. I was serving and catering to those with memberships to the executive areas of the hotel. The other half of my internship was in Cusco, a historic city in the Peruvian Andes — very, very historic … adobe-style and traditional culture. In Cusco, I worked at a 16-room boutique hotel with catered service.
When we were in Cusco, we didn’t have hot water. I was taking showers in ice-cold water and sleeping with mittens on. I couldn’t find any of my comfort foods like mac and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It was potatoes and corn eight different ways, with meat or seafood occasionally. I got food poisoning a dozen different times. My first week in Peru I think I was out for a week and a half — I couldn’t get out of bed, crawling to the bathroom. Six out of seven of us that had gotten sick … all of us banging on the bathroom door, telling someone to hurry up. It was horrible.
I liked Cusco more than Lima. In Lima, you would walk out of a gorgeous JW Marriott and there’d be a homeless mother with her children, living on the street. We would give leftover food from events to the homeless. There would be 7-year-olds trying to sell cigarettes and bubblegum on the streets. They did that because their parents understood that tourists were more sympathetic to kids.
How did you transition out of hospitality and into real estate?
I got burnt out; I was exhausted. I love customer service, but I hadn’t found anything that quite fulfilled me. I tried out employee benefits for a short while — I got hired as an account executive for an employee benefit firm, handling HSAs, FSAs and COBRA … around the nation. At that time, though, I was also helping my parents purchase properties — helping them flip houses and open rentals. They, and that experience, taught me the value of owning a home, investing money into it and getting the equity back. That was what piqued my interest in real estate. I decided I wanted to get into flipping homes, and my mom suggested that I just go ahead and pursue my real estate license.
I was married at the time, and my then-husband — who was in the Army — found out that he was being moved to Fort Carson, but first going through training in Oklahoma. I spent our time in Oklahoma working towards my license. It took me a year; I took my time, and I finished after we moved to Colorado Springs...
But the first time I came to Colorado Springs was when I got out of college and took a girls’ trip here. I remember as soon as I left, I had a moment on the plane when I clearly thought, ‘I’m going to be back here one day. This feels more like home than home.’ When I finally moved here from Oklahoma, crossing the state line, I remember my favorite Mumford & Sons song, “Awake My Soul,” came on — it hit me all at once and I started crying. A weight had lifted off my chest. I felt at home — that this was my place.
Tell us about your real estate experience here in Colorado Springs.
I initially worked as a sales counselor with new builds. I briefly ventured into resale after that, but quickly missed new builds so much. A new build company — who I work for now — reached out to me over LinkedIn. I felt like it was divine, like ‘Holy Cow, how did they know I missed this?’
When I was in hospitality, a part of what drew me to being in that field was providing a service that patrons could take with them to remember for a lifetime — you’re creating an experience for them. I was always overachieving and going above and beyond expectations. I wanted them to leave wanting more, because it was so good — not because it was lacking, but because it was a lasting experience.
However, I didn’t feel like I was making enough of a difference in people’s lives. Real estate is related but has gone beyond, and filled that gap, that lack of fulfillment — at least in my experience, for me. I truly believe that purchasing a home is the best investment you can make for yourself and your family. It can be an emotional rollercoaster of milestones; I have been a shoulder to cry on for a client going through a divorce … or a couple with a newborn. I’ve truly been able to be there with them — a confidant. I’ve created relationships with my clients, and continue to have coffee with them. It’s hard work paying off into a relationship. It’s much more personal, deep, and meaningful than many assume. There’s obviously been those tough times where you want to chug a bottle of wine and pull out your hair — but I think everyone has those times, no matter what field of work.
What are some notable things in your career?
One of my favorite parts, when I first started, was working with first-time VA buyers, because they were young couples who didn’t think homeownership was possible. I took the time to take them through a price-out and show them where their VA benefits allow them to own a good home. I’ve had many clients like that, couples thinking homeownership wasn’t possible and showing them that it is.
I also organized a women’s self-defense class for female real estate agents because of how dangerous it is — as agents — to meet with others alone. We hired a professional instructor in Krav Maga who taught our ladies how to defend themselves.
How can potential homebuyers find you?
Well, I was actually listed amongst the Top 50 Colorado Real Estate Agents on Social Media by PropertySpark. I did not expect it at all! I didn’t apply for it; I just got an email. Anyway, you can search for my Facebook page, under Pages, with @ashleykleincolorado — and I have a real estate Instagram under @ashleysellscolorado. I’m also on LinkedIn.