HomeThe Impact Challenge That Strengthened This Relationship-Based Real Estate Company

Best for PHL Community Member Spotlight: Eliza Michiels, Real Estate With Heart

Written by Guest Contributor, Cynthia Estremera

Eliza Michiels sat down with staff from the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) and Best for PHL to share how she arrived at a Best for PHL Challenge Workshop and what drove her to participate in the Best for PHL Challenge.

She is a realtor at Real Estate with Heart along with her brother, Skye Michiels, who decided that they would change the way they do real estate business. Their approach is relationship-based; “it’s not about the deal, it’s about the relationship,” she said.

Michiels moved to Philadelphia from Portland, Oregon in 2013. She holds an MBA that specialized in sustainable business, and used to work in renewable energy. She moved to Philadelphia in 2013 to join her brother’s business. Together, they are building a real estate company that is committed to giving back to the community.

Real Estate with Heart accomplishes this goal by working with Habitat for Humanity and taking willing clients out on bikes to visit properties. However, Michiels wants to further build on their success.

“Business is a really powerful tool. I can be doing something for profit and still have purpose.”

Michels decided to take the Best for PHL Challenge in a Challenge Workshop in the winter. The Best for PHL Challenge is about encouraging, equipping and recognizing companies in the Philadelphia region who commit to making a positive change and improving the region’s impact economy. The Challenge Workshops walk participants through the Best for PHL initiative, help them take the Best for PHL Challenge (a brief impact assessment), and encourage companies to talk with one another about an area they wish to change.

Reflecting on potential changes was what Michiels appreciated most about the workshop. “Essentially, we could’ve done this by ourselves at our desk. But there is power in committing the time and getting together with other folks,” she said. She valued Best for PHL’s hands-on support to help with uncertain questions, while the assessment itself was user-friendly and easy to engage with.

She highlighted, “just the questions alone brought to light areas that I hadn’t considered.” For example, Michiels pondered about the transparency of open books and this being something she hadn’t thought about before in order to be an equitable business. Michiels shared that she felt surprised by some of the tensions the Challenge uncovered like wanting paid parental leave in a small business, but not knowing how to pay for it. She also said that sharing challenges about implementation as a group helped her feel empowered.

“Building a network and community in a city makes the city smaller. We can support and feed each other business.”

All in all, her experiences with the Best for PHL initiative has been motivating and she has earned her Community Member status in Best for PHL for having completed her pledge to change her banking to a local financial institution. After the workshop, Saleem Chapman, Policy Manager at SBN, who was part of the Best for PHL team leading the workshop, provided a list of local banking institutions. This helped make what felt like an overwhelming decision feel simple, quick, and easy. It was something that she had thought about before that had landed at the “bottom of the pile,” but now she could check that off her list and move on to bigger impact improvement goals for her business.

Eliza Michiels’ next goal is to be a Best for PHL Challenge Workshop host and invite businesses she knows to participate in a similar workshop at her office. She also wants to continue building her role as a socially conscious realtor and plan a biking workshop to encourage clients and business owners to incorporate biking into their commute and business practices.

Are you ready to take the Best for PHL Challenge?

Register for a Challenge workshop here.

Follow Real Estate with Heart and Eliza Michiels on Facebook.

B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.