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Conversations with the Inspiring Denisa Petricko

Today we’d like to introduce you to Denisa Petricko.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I think I should preface my story with the fact that I was born in Europe, in country formerly known as Czechoslovakia. My family immigrated to the United States when I was about 7 years old. We moved to the small town of Manchester, VT, which is where, Will Smith style, “I spent most of my days”. This would also be a good time to disclose that I didn’t know any English upon arrival but had amazing tutors who paved the way to me being able to accomplish many things, including participating in this interview.

As a child, I was active in playing sports (gymnastics, soccer and tennis) and was always involved in extracurricular activities like photography, painting and music. The most important of these was always music. It didn’t require a language, it was it’s own language, so the barriers of communication disappeared. My grandfather had put a violin in my hands when I was little, and as I got older, I moved on to the flute, then sax, then keyboards, and eventually picked up the guitar in my later years. Music became a huge passion, a meditation into deeper emotions.

My very first introduction to professional musician life (one that didn’t include costume changes as a character in a school musical) came when at the age of 16; I was invited on the tour bus of a local favorite band, The Samples (Hi Sean!). Something about that experience planted seeds for a path I would later come to embrace.

As years went by, I found myself at numerous concerts, always with a funny story to tell (but that’s material for a book not this article). I fell in love with the way music made me feel things, the people I met along the way, and how I would always leave a show inspired to write my own pieces (only one has copyright). When High School ended, I naturally followed societal norms and went off to college with the intention to go pre-Med. Unfortunately for my parents, after my first encounter with a cadaver, I ran off to change my major to Psychology. The desire to help people was still there but that smell was more then my sensitive (shhh…hungover wink wink) stomach could handle. I went on to graduate with my BA in Psychology, along with a minor in Studio Art, but I honestly had no idea what I was doing with either of those. Looking back, I think my thought process was to do Music or Art Therapy but that concept got lost over the years.

After graduating from the University of Vermont, I began the job interview process and had my eye on NYC, so I landed a media related job working for News Corporation, where I carried on my Kappa Alpha Theta sisterhood with two fellow alums, and my glamorous ‘Sex & The City’ years began.

The year 2000 was a good one! I moved into a closet with a former friend, paying around $2100 to sleep on a small futon couch facing my roommate’s futon. There is something super UN-glamorous about living in New York City on a $30k salary when half of your paycheck goes to rent, but I still managed to spend all of my free time parading around the city’s dive bar music venues (CBGB was still around back then. Did I just age myself?). I met so many local musicians in those years, some of them on the cusp of breakthroughs, names like Gavin DeGraw and Norah Jones were staples in the circle of people I knew back in that decade, as well as incredibly talented people who lay under the radar (RIP Tim Luntzel).

It wasn’t until after 9/11 happened that I realized I was working toward a career I didn’t actually want, and my focus began to shift a bit. I shed tears with my coworker Christina, as we watched smoke from the towers fill the Manhattan air, totally confused about what had just happened. A pride in being a New York resident came over me. There was something about the changes that were happening. In the people, a sense of community had developed that was alluring. So, I stayed put for a bit.

Sometime in mid-2004, I packed up all my belongings, shipped a few boxes to an unknown California address, dumped the rest on a curbside with a ‘FREE’ sign and jumped on a plane with a one-way ticket to San Diego in my hands. I got to my parents new Temecula home and unpacked. For the first few months post, I cried and regretted leaving the city. I left lifelong friends, a guy who I was in love with, and moved somewhere not knowing a single soul except my family; my best friend who lived in LA had just announced she was moving to Europe (perfect timing!). So, I quickly started my career change job hunt. I knew I wanted to get into music!

I interviewed at Paramount in Los Angeles to pursue music supervision, since one of my favorite past times was putting together amazing mixes for friends. Shot down, I was told I needed to get some industry experience. Further determination landed me at an internship with a local record label in Encinitas, and so I moved to the water.

Being in my early 20’s, and probably a little cocky, I was handed the humble your butt down card. I found myself washing my boss’ car on a weekly basis, now that’s glamorous! I remembered thru the years, I had always been told that to make it in entertainment you had to work your way up, and so that’s what I did.

I eventually got offered a paid position at the label, where I got to handle everything from intern & inventory management, to copyrighting and mechanical licensing, and even A&R. A few years in, I started to get the itch to try something else when the perfect opportunity presented itself. A friend from NYC decided to start a music management company, so I jumped on board. We signed several bands to our management company, and even scored a record contract for one of them, sending them on a west coast tour. Money was bleeding out of our accounts and with limited streams of replenishing it, I hit a wall. I did the unthinkable by going back to a corporate job in television advertising.

I found myself commuting to Temecula, where I luckily got to spend some nights at my parent’s house each week instead of driving back and forth each day. I had great managers, a great salary, and was getting pretty comfortable in my role when suddenly my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. The universe punched me in the face. I was driving to Anaheim every day to visit him in the hospital after his surgery. Being super happy that I was working for a company that supported “family”, I felt I had their support in watching my father recover. However, this same company started to make some changes and my supervisors were slowly let go. When a gentleman name Chuck was brought in to take over our sales department, and I started to train someone into my role, it should have come as no surprise that I was given a severance package that claimed: “I was taking too much time away to go spend with my father”. So much for that “family first” motto.

Unemployment in 2009 seemed to be the career of choice, so I wasn’t too embarrassed to own a state funded debit card. My father had also been released from the hospital so that was all that mattered. But another shift began. I found myself looking into audio programs. Two days before submitting an application to Full Sail in Florida, a random friend told me about a program right here in Southern California. After submitting an application and getting the green light, I started a two-year audio program. This resulted in certifications in sound reinforcement, recording arts, digital audio, and music technology. Coincidentally I also found enough free time in my class schedule to get my yoga and Pilates instructor certifications at the same time.

Before completing the music program, I randomly decided to walk into a wine bar in Encinitas to do some studying for my finals. Sitting behind my textbook, an older gentleman with a Fender t-shirt sat down next to me and suddenly I found myself in an engaging conversation about audio work and speaker design. When I exchanged information with Chris Pelonis, I had no idea the doors he was about to open. Within a couple of weeks, I got a phone call from a manager saying their tour manager had quit and there was a need for an extra set of hands on an upcoming tour. I showed up in Santa Barbara at the Lobero Theatre early. When the crew showed up, introductions were made and we all went to work. Taking on the role of the backline tech, I got to face my biggest fear of setting up a drum kit (not sure why it had always been so daunting!). When set up was complete, line check was finished, and sound check with the band began. I had found myself on tour with Jeff Bridges. David Crosby made a guest appearance for that first show of the tour and I couldn’t have felt more lucky and fortunate to have met Chris! The appreciation for that random meeting over a textbook and the faith he had in me is hard to explain.

When I got back to Encinitas from touring, I needed some major grounding and got a part time production assistant gig at a downtown music venue, Anthology. I played parts in advancing shows, load in and outs, stage set up, lighting, and my personal favorite, monitor mixing! I was also hired for several charity events as an event producer, logistics director, and a backstage manager during these years. The list of amazing people and artists I have been blessed to work with runs deep. It was also during this time frame that I started to teach more yoga and Pilates in local studios. Finding so much strength in the process, I found myself in an advanced yoga teacher training seeking further growth and got my 500-hour certification. As part of one of my final class presentations, I attended a weekend program with Warriors for Healing, which allowed me to do work with PTSD veteran community & other at risk clients. I even added a Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga Certification and was soon teaching 15 plus classes a week. Thru yoga and my teaching, I am fortunate to also have teamed up to be a brand ambassador for amazing companies like Creations for a Cause (contributes to causes like literacy for women in Africa), Sand Cloud (protects Ocean and Marine life), MindBody, Altar Ego Clothing, Bloom & Give (sending girls in India to school to help change their lives) and an influencer to Prana and a local Encinitas company, Vuori.

In 2015, after a lull with music touring, the music venue and two gyms shutting down, as well as a little birdie whispering in my ear (also known as my amazing mom, Maria, who has been a Temecula/Murrieta Realtor for over a decade), I started taking classes in real estate and found myself at open houses on weekends. Passing my exam on the first try in July 2016, I hung my license several months later with a boutique local broker Bennion Deville, right here in Encinitas. Searching for a way to tie together my skillsets while keeping the yoga vibe, I went with the name “Real Namastates” for my personal trademark. Which brings us to today!

Growing my business as a local realtor in Southern California, my desire to help people has never left. I take pride in treating all my clients as I would any of my close friends or family. My intention for clients, whether it is home buying or selling, is to keep it as stressless as possible. These should be some of the happiest moments in life. Life changes, although psychologically stressful, should be new beginnings and ‘doors’ opening, no pun intended there. For me, life has never been about money, it genuinely has to do with people feeling good about their decisions. I truly believe there is no greater gift in life than the relationships you create and how you make people feel. The most amazing feeling for me is when I get to hand a client keys to a home that may be their very first!

I can still be found teaching yoga and Pilates, offering privates and subbing at local studios. Occasionally I also still pick up a short music gig, like the one-week east coast tour I did with Jimmy Messina this past February. I’m currently also working on developing my healing qualities through yoga and meditation, doing one on one and small group sessions.

Mostly though, my focus has become growing my real estate career and changing the way real estate is done. Doing real estate with a heart, practicing patience, and nurturing the home buying and selling journey!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I definitely would not say that it was a smooth road getting to where I am today. Each portion of my journey has presented its own set of challenges. I feel like I’ve been very fortunate to go through a lot of struggles, mentally and physically, in both personal and professional life. But I wouldn’t trade any of it for easier times!

Moving to the US without being able to speak a language and being ridiculed was probably the first real hurdle to overcome. I think this really set the stage for how I grew to handle things as I got older with an amazing sense of humor.

One of the main challenges with entering any male-dominated field is trying to maintain femininity while also gaining respect by standing your ground which can sometimes make or break your career. In audio work, during set up, I recall one time a loader making an inappropriate comment regarding my attire. I wear the common black colored production clothes, but I tend to wear more than one hat during shows, so I keep my clothing professional but try to give basic black a little more style. I won’t turn this into a #metoo confession, but there is also the challenge of knowing that sexual harassment is something that you will most likely face, especially if you are an attractive female. Audio work is not always for the faint of heart. You will be doing the heavy lifting. Make sure you know the glamour disappears when you are carrying 50+lb audio gear onto a stage in the blazing 100-degree humid sun. Be prepared to toughen up. I actually found that being a Yoga teacher and practicing yogi, helped me maintain a great balance. It allows me to soften that tough skin and return to a place of compassion.

Real estate comes with its own obstacles, especially as a new agent. You have to be willing to take the risk of not knowing when your next client will appear. It’s important to learn the practice of patience, as well as budgeting between sales. With so many realtors out there, getting that first listing or a sale can be a timely task. You may even be shocked to find out that your so-called best friends are using someone they don’t know. Some will say that don’t want to mix business with pleasure, not realizing they are hurting your growth. It can be a real eye opener to some friendships. I’ve had to explain to several friends that I will likely never know what they have in their bank account if that’s what they fear. The preapproval letters come from their chosen lender, who is the only person looking at bank statements, to make sure you can afford the property. My job is to preview the homes & the area they are in, check the flood zones, spend money on marketing your listing, help stage your listing, write the offer and counteroffers, walk thru inspections with you, and most importantly keep you calm during the highs and lows of your transaction!

One other hurdle for female realtors is Open Houses. You have to be cautious. Most of us hold them alone, and this can be a very vulnerable place for things to go wrong. You never know the person who is walking in so being prepared and alert is definitely necessary. I’ve taken self-defense classes and even took Judo for some years back in college, so I don’t go in expecting the worst but you just never know.

My biggest tip is to have a backup stream of income when you get started! (In fact, I can still be found behind a bar on Wine Wednesdays! Stop into Solterra and say hi!)

My additional advice in any career you choose to move toward would be to find your perfect balance. I was once told to keep my passions separate from my career, but I’ve found a way to do everything I love and make it work each year. Think about how you spend your free time and what makes you happy. Then go out and do that!

What should we know about Real Namastates? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I think the one thing that has always set me apart in all of the fields I have been involved I was that I was never afraid to go for it and I have also gone in with a full heart. Which at times this has made me vulnerable to getting taken advantage of, but I have always learned my lesson and been able to move on. I have been able to excel at everything for that reason. My calm energy is also apparently hard to deny I’ve been told.

I believe that if you are coming from a place of passion and compassion, you will likely succeed. I am growing my real estate career with this same passionate determination and desire. Trying to learn something every day.

I’m super proud of my brand name ‘Real Namastates’, which came to me in my sleep and it just clicked! I am proud of what I am creating. It feels good to be able to tie everything I have been involved in together, and kind of makes me a one stop shop. I can set up your audio/entertainment system, sell or help you buy your house, and even teach you a yoga lesson or meditation when the pressure is on.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
I think media coverage about challenges for women is out there, but opportunities are endless! I haven’t had cable television in about 15 years for this reason. I have found that limiting beliefs are the ones you create within yourself. Psychologically you have the power to turn that frown upside down. Audio, Yoga and Real Estate are wide open in opportunity!

Women in entertainment roles like Media Production/Directing and Music Engineering are now actually getting paid more than men! You can read articles that have the US Census Bureau showing this, just google it. On the same note, only about 5% of women work in these fields! Shocking right?! Generally, and although men will hate to know this, women actually have a better frequency hearing in ranges above 2,000 Hz! Fact! And if you are considering working lights, then another good female boost is that we actually have the ability to distinguish between subtle color changes. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to have color blindness. Ouch, guys, I know!

Real Estate on the flip side is slightly driven more by women. I’ve seen numbers saying 2:1, some say about 63%. Regardless this is a field that has plenty of room to grow as well. In Southern California, the division of male vs. female realtors in the number of ‘For Sale’ signs seems to be pretty equally divided overall. It may lean slightly in favor of one gender or another depending on the neighborhood, but there are so many broker companies out there now that even the names become blurred.

Yoga, well as much as this once was a male-dominated field, it is now highly driven by females. During my teacher training, all of my instructors were all women. Women I hold in high regards to this day. Stacy McCarthy, IDEA’s 2011 Instructor of the Year and Partner of Beaming Superfood Cafes and Claire Petretti Marti, who is currently excelling as a romance author (go find her books on Amazon!) to name two. I’ve been very fortunate to be an adjustor and share the stage with these two at a recent Yoga For Hope event, which was also a career-high working with Seane Corn. This is a field of non-judgment and has so many possibilities. Places around the world hold retreats. You could gain a following and start one of your very own!

Really though I would encourage any ladies looking to make a change in their lives to ultimately just go for it! Look at what is actually holding you back. Is it something real or is it a limiting belief you’ve created? I’ve been offering healing sessions to friends to help release holds, whether physical or mental and I’m more than happy to offer these to anyone reading this interview. Namaste always!

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.realnamastates.com
  • Phone: 760-702-0549
  • Email: DenisaSellsSD@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @denisaSellsSD
  • Facebook: @denisa.realnamastates


Image Credit:

Black and White = @Rustic Ribbons Photography, Yoga For Hope = @Epic Photo Journalism, Others = @Savvy Bliss Media, On Stage = @George Bekris Photography

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