Three words that sum up what’s important to Jo Eddington. Armed with a quest for excellence, exceptional communication skills and a passion for connecting people, Jo is about to embark on an exciting new journey, celebrating the milestone of turning 50 and a whole new direction in life.
Reflecting on a career spanning 30 years, Jo shares one of her favourite quotes from Steve Jobs: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
And how they have. Always adventurous, from small town beginnings in mid-Canterbury, she left NZ at 17 on a one-way ticket to Australia, going on to combine a love of travel with an exciting career, living in some great cities including Sydney, Melbourne, London and Waiheke, before settling in Parnell.
Jo thrives on the buzz of big city life: “It was an exciting time. I was in my 20s when I arrived in London, a young Kiwi taking on the world. As a sales trainer for a large IT company, I soon became known as the ‘fix-it girl’—a classic Kiwi number-eight wire trait—always ready to try new ideas. I’d roll up my sleeves and tackle any problem put in front of me.”
Moving into senior sales and marketing roles, she was soon managing teams, implementing strategy and negotiating complex deals – sometimes worth hundreds of millions of dollars: “It was a high pressure and fiercely competitive environment—I absolutely thrived.”
From my own experience, the process of buying or selling a home is highly personal and individual. Houses are more than bricks and mortar; they are the places we live, laugh and share our lives.”
Jo considers herself a lifetime learner, and puts her success down to always being curious, never shying away from new ideas or from thinking outside the square.
“As with anything worthwhile in life, if you want to play the game you have to put in the effort. And first off, that means turning up and being prepared to step out of your comfort zone.
“Over the course of my career I was fortunate to have been taught by some the best in the world. This was crucial when I went on to start my own business. What I learnt about sales is that your customers’ needs always come first; you must be crystal clear on the value you are providing to every client; and finally, communication. Relationships and communication are key. People buy from people they like and people they trust.”
If Jo looks familiar to you, Verve readers, she probably is. A Parnell business owner and resident for over a decade, Jo’s years in corporate were a great precursor to becoming an entrepreneur. Launching Coastal Design Co in 2007, she opened her first furniture showroom on Garfield Street, Parnell, and grew it into a successful business, working with top architects and designers on some of New Zealand’s most prestigious residential properties. During this time Jo also bought, renovated and sold several properties on Waiheke Island, Auckland Viaduct and Parnell, triggering a lifetime fascination, and love for property.
With her sights set on expansion, in 2014 Jo took her business international, moving to Australia with daughter Lexi, and opening her flagship showroom in Sydney. It was an exciting time, with two showrooms in Australia and NZ, and warehouses in three countries. Life was fun, full-on and busy.
But while the businesses experienced continued growth, it wasn’t all glamorous. Over the years, Jo experienced many growth pains typical to what many small business-owners face, as well as personally juggling relocation, new schools, navigating divorce and single parenthood. The toll of working seven days a week and being a full-time mum to a busy and committed daughter was real. And, when her sister-in-law in Christchurch was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a year to live, leaving behind two beautiful daughters similar in age to Lexi, Jo reassessed her life and priorities and made some big decisions. It became very clear, she says, that the most precious resource we all have, is time.
The decision to wind down Coastal Design in Australia and NZ was personal and not taken lightly; it was life-defining. Within a week of winding down the Australian operation, still moving forward, Jo flew to New York to attend a global entrepreneurs’ conference with EO. There, she reset her aspirations, putting family firmly first.
Returning and settling home in Parnell in 2016, full of ideas and never one to sit still, Jo was soon applying her newly acquired learnings. She set up a coaching and mentoring business aligning with The Icehouse, Business Mentors and NZ Trade & Enterprise, working with an array of business owners and entrepreneurs. Alongside this, she also started Alexa Resort, a luxe women’s resort wear fashion label, named after daughter Lexi.
Suddenly, you know, it is time to start something new, and to trust in the magic of new beginnings.”
When asked about the key to her success, Jo offers: “As an entrepreneur you need to be striving to create an environment of value. For example, with Coastal Design, it was never about selling an outdoor sofa or table setting, it was always personal. A chair becomes a place to sit, laugh, enjoy the company of friends and family, and to create memories”.
It’s the same with real estate. To some, real estate is transactional but to Jo it is emotional. She knows from her own experience, the process of buying or selling your home is a highly personal and individual experience. As a buyer and seller of a number of her own residential properties, together with her experience over the years working with thousands of homeowners, Jo is unwavering in her belief that houses are “more than bricks and mortar”: “They are the places we live and laugh and share our lives.”
Jo believes “it is, always, the people who matter most”. People and community are at the heart of everything she does. With her daughter Lexi now happily ensconced at King’s College, Jo has joined the Executive Committee of the Friends, Kings College, whose purpose is to assist the college in fostering a strong sense of community between parents. She is busy working on a host of networking business and social fundraising events for students and parents and the wider community. Over the years she has also been an active supporter of many community groups including Ronald McDonald House, Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Breast Cancer Research, Parnell Tennis Club, and Parnell Kindy, as well as Parnell District School—where Lexi has many fond memories growing up, scootering to school along Saint Stephens Avenue and enjoying the delights of Judges Bay and the Parnell Pools in summer.
Jo’s drive to understand people and their needs properly led to her joining the Ray White Group in late 2019, in a move she was destined to make.
“Suddenly, you know, it’s time to start something new, and to trust the magic of new beginnings,” she says. “I am excited to be setting up office in Ray White’s new boutique premises—perfectly located, steps away from some of my favourite Parnell spots like Non Solo Pizza, Gerome and Woodpecker Hill!”
Jo, as always, is about connecting people. She will join a team supported by a vast array of experts, from finance, professionals, property stylists, mortgage brokers and everything in between. Whether buying, selling or browsing, Jo says she wants to do things differently; to make real estate personal and to offer a full end-to-end service connecting people with all the resources they need, personally guiding clients through what can often be a very stressful process.
And what Jo doesn’t know, she’ll find out and share with you. Combining her experience and passion, she is committed to offering the community a level of service, that is unrivalled anywhere.
“Joining Ray White is a match made in heaven. A strong sense of family and values prevails here, and I love being part of a small dynamic team,” she says. “It is empowering to be working alongside some of NZ’s most respected agents, and to have the backing and support of the best legal, administrative and marketing expertise that the Ray White brand offers.”
Sticking to what she knows best, Jo plans to be focused on Auckland’s east – from Parnell through to the Bays and beyond. And speaking of bays, on any sunny day, you’ll find her out before work on her stand-up paddle board at Kohi beach, or after hours you’ll spot her out and about in Parnell, with her finger on the pulse, a raft of new ideas and always, always smiling!
Verve Readers: In 2020, Jo will be running a quarterly commentary in Verve, talking everything residential, home and design, and sharing insights and tips from the best in the business…