Friday, October 12, 2012

Who is Flipping Miami?

The last time I can remember thinking “she’s perfect” about a woman, was when I was four years old, and watching “The Little Mermaid”. She had long gorgeous hair, a disregard for the norm, and a dream. Unfortunately, she was a cartoon. For nineteen years I have waited to find the real life version of Ariel. Yesterday, I found a woman who is even better. 

Her name is Carolina Balsamo, and she is the strikingly attractive contractor for the new reality show “Flipping Miami”. So attractive in fact, they’re calling her “Sofia Vergara with a tool belt.” I don’t know your opinion, but Sofia was already pretty enticing to me. When I found that there was a stronger version of her in reality tv, with power tools, I began counting down the days until the show’s debut.

On October 20th, A&E will premiere “Flipping Miami”. This show features Caro, and her husband/ business partner Chris, as they face the heat, natural disasters, and strange personalities of Miami, while trying to make a profit buying and renovating homes.

Reality television has yet to have a strong, female, LATIN lead. That’s right. This Colombian native speaks Spanish, and grew up romping in the great outdoors of South America. Did I mention she is a huge WNBA Fan? Now do you understand why I love this woman?

I got a chance to interview Caro, and I have to admit, I like her even more now. Today on The Graduates Guide I’ll share with you what drives the woman who drives the nails.

Tennessee:  You’re a New York Liberty fan? Why did you relocate from New York to Miami?

Caro: I love seeing those girls in action; I have such a tremendous respect for female athletes. I used to sit court side watching Janel McCarville and Mitchell playing! Good times. We moved to Miami because my husband and I had saved some money to invest. We decided to buy one house as an investment in South Florida since the housing market was at its lows. Throughout the process of buying, renovating and selling (or renting) we realized that the returns in this business are unreal. We decided to pool as much money as possible to start a new career flipping homes. In this market cash is king.

TN:  Have you always wanted to renovate homes?

Caro:  Not really. I went to school for nutrition and food science. I've been working as a nutritionist since I graduated. I have experience working with obese & malnourished children, HIV positive people, families and elderly people. My last job in NYC I worked in nutrition prevention and education in a campaign in the Bronx focused on Latino and Black populations. 

TN:  Wow. You have a pretty impressive background there. How did you realize that you were also passionate about renovation?

Caro:  I grew up in a very hands-on environment since there are no boys in my family. My father raised me as 'his' boy, always in the woods, fishing, hunting, and very handy! When Chris and I started renovating homes, the Tom-boy inside of me came out. It's not been a difficult task to accomplish. I love being active and since I do a lot of lifting, smashing, and assembling, this profession keeps me in good shape! It’s way better than going to the gym. :)

TN:  You could always have ran alongside the Liberty Team! If you could pick any other career what would it be?

Caro:  Nutrition! Once I fully reach financial stability, my calling in life is to help people, work on nutrition education and behavior campaigns and work with other countries on education regarding food availability. I'd love to help underprivileged children get good food and a healthy water supply. For example; I got married in Zambia, Africa and the drinkable water situation is still a big issue there. I can see myself working/volunteering in a small village helping others accomplishing a healthy life!

TN:  That is really incredible. You have such a big heart. What is it like to be the only woman in a male dominated world?

Caro:  It feels like I'm the bad cop all the time. I have to show my strongest face at all times, otherwise men (specially Latino) will run me over. On the other hand, my husband plays the good cop roll. We are a good team!

TN:  Is your husband intimidated by your dominance, or is he supportive?

Caro:  He is definitely supportive by my dominance on others but 100% intimidated by dominance towards him. Haha!

TN:  Do you run into a lot of stereotypes since you work in such a male dominated field?

Caro:  YES! All the time. Recently when we were shooting a scene at Home Depot while buying materials, a guy approached me to ask me if I was an actor, after I told him I'm a contractor he kept saying 'no way, you are an actor'. It was so frustrating. The same happens with my friends in NYC; they can't believe what I do since in NY I dress to impress and in Florida I dress for work! The only place I take advantage of the 'stereotype' is at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Every time I can't find something, I yell for help and all the guys come right away, ha!

TN:  Well, the word actor is in the word contractor. At least he was close! I noticed you've taken up tweeting recently. How is that going? 

Caro:  It took some getting used to but I'm having a blast. We're doing a new house right now so I'm sending lots of updates and tweeting LOTS of pictures. My only problem is 140 characters isn't enough! I have so much more to say.

TN:   I think it's really important that we get to communicate with strong female rolemodels such as yourself. What advice would you give to other women who are in your position, or want to follow their dreams into male dominated industries? 

Caro:  It's all about self-confidence and determination! Don't let anybody intimidate you and always follow your goals. If you want to make money, forget about what people would say or think. Just do it and get dirty if you have to. I promise, it will be rewarding.

TN: As a woman, what do you think is the most important thing to remember?

Caro:  Be independent! Whatever you do, plan it. It's really nice to have someone else's support but never count on it. Looking back in the past and seeing all you have built and accomplished by yourself is a priceless feeling.

TN:  What is the best advice you can give to women who are younger than you?

Caro:  What ever you do, always perform 110%! No matter if it's a small or big job, paid or volunteering, always give your best! Once I asked one of my employees what was his performance was like while working and he told me he puts 80% of his effort in since he is an employee, but if he had his own company, he would perform 120%. I never hired him again. When you do things right, 1,000 doors will open for you!

Caro openly admits that although she likes being independent, she is very grateful for the support of her husband Chris. You can watch both of them on A&E this Saturday, October 20th. Don't forget to tweet with Caro and Chris at @CaroFlipMiami and @ChrisFlipMiami during the show. You can also check them out on Facebook. 

Grab a bag of popcorn, throw on a pair of Timberland’s, and get ready for the hottest new reality show on TV.

P.S, don’t forget your sunscreen, Sunshine! We're going to Miami!

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