Breaking Social Norms
Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson
From the Ashes
One Woman Chose to Rise Up with Integrity & Courage
About six years ago, Jamie Blankenship sat in her empty house. She had heard people enjoyed chilling on their couch watching Netflix, but it wasn’t relaxing for her. It was the first weekend without her children, and she had just come out of a terrible relationship.
“My second relationship was so incredibly abusive. He was incredibly narcissistic, very financially abusive, [and] emotionally abusive. He was choking me out. I was counting pennies, at the that time, just to put milk in the refrigerator,” Jamie explains.
It had taken a lot for her to step away from the situation she was in. Now, she sat on her couch, unsatisfied with Netflix. “I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life—find out who I [was] and recreate who I wanted to be. That’s where Invictus came in, because I wanted a company name that meant something. Invictus is the phoenix rising out of the ashes. When you just don’t think you [have] the strength or the courage to pursue [something] because it’s just so bad, but you have to figure it out and find a way.”
Jamie’s upbringing was less than ideal, which she connects to her previous choices in marriage and a pregnancy at 18 years old. With a baby to provide for, she began working part-time at a Publix in Lakeland, Florida, so she could have insurance.
A few years later, when her daughter entered school, Jamie applied for and got a position within the Publix corporate offices. It was the first step into property management, and she really enjoyed it—unusual for the property management world. “It was pretty neat, because most people don’t like property management. Nobody ever calls and tells you you’re doing a great job managing the [property].”
In fact, most people call to tell you what’s wrong or what is needed. “It’s not a glorifying job, but I loved it!”
Jamie assisted her manager at the time with over 100 properties in the Jacksonville division. They grew a great reputation for exceptional customer service, and Jamie was eventually promoted to the site division, where she would thoroughly assess an area to determine if it was a good location for a Publix store.
After her first divorce, she knew she needed to advance her career. “I was young, and I had, at this point, two children. I had to figure out how to live on my own, and I [hadn’t been] the bread winner. I left Publix on good terms. Once you’re in Publix, you’re just family.”
She started working directly with the developers, but she quickly realized the way developers did business was not the way she preferred to work. If a developer got the contract for a Publix shopping center 10 to 15 years ago, it would generally have a profit of four to six million dollars, but it was never enough, according to Jamie. “Developers would literally run over their mother for five more dollars, and I watched [that behavior] happen over and over. A handshake deal is not a handshake deal. Even a contractual deal, you have to hire an attorney to get them to perform.”
That’s when Jamie started thinking, “Maybe this isn’t what I want to do in life, because I’m just not that kind of person.”
Rising from the Ashes
Stepping out into the industry on her own took a lot of courage. Since the commercial real estate business is male dominated, Jamie wasn’t sure if she would be respected in the industry. After speaking with several developers who stated they would love to continue working with her, Jamie knew she could build the company of her dreams. “My goal, when I created Invictus, was to create a full service real estate company. It’s been fun, and I’ve learned so much about myself on the journey.”
Invictus has commercial and residential real estate divisions, property management for commercial and residential, leasing for commercial and residential; recently, Jamie became certified to manage home owner associations (HOAs). She is also planning to launch a title company this year.
“I have been so incredibly blessed. I have gone from being broke to being blessed with so many people, who put their trust and belief in me and allow me to help them through such an amazing process.
“I have come out of survival mode and into goal-setting. I just want to continue to give back and to continue to do what I do with integrity and honesty.”