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  • Writer's pictureMAREJ

Meet Danielle Brunelli, RJ Brunelli

Women in Business Q&A

Do you feel being a woman is an advantage, disadvantage or no advantage in today’s business world? Why? Why not?

I have always felt being a woman is an advantage. I started off in this industry being in the minority, and it was a little easier to stand out in a convention hall of men. Additionally, women in the business often try to support one another. Twelve years ago, I had been referred by other women in the industry to the new real estate manager for Dollar Tree to represent them in New Jersey, and I am fortunate to still be representing them. Additionally, I believe it’s easier for women to understand retailers as we’re the primary consumer. Women have a strong capacity to juggle several responsibilities at once. We listen well, have empathy for others and pay close attention to what those around us need. We’re also trustworthy and stand by our word. Most women work with others in a respectful way, while standing firm.

What unique qualities and or personality do you feel makes you most successful in your profession?

Over the last twenty-five years, I have created great relationships with people in this industry. Since I began working at RJ Brunelli when I was eighteen, many people saw me grow up in the business. They’ve watched me develop as a broker—as someone who is hardworking and determined to succeed. I’m diligent about following up with people and taking the necessary steps to accomplish the task at hand. I’m not afraid to lose a deal, if that’s what’s best for the client. I’ve always been taught that the client’s interests are my priority. At this point in my career, the ups and downs don’t worry me too much. When making a deal, I always look for ways to bring the parties of the negotiation together. At RJ Brunelli & Co., we strive to be ethical in all of the work that we do.

What was the most defining moment for you in the profession you are currently in?

This past year, 2021, was a milestone for me. I was named Exclusive Tenant rep for Raising Canes, which is a national chain restaurant built by an incredible, philanthropic entrepreneur. It’s been an exhilarating experience to plan and roll out a strategic expansion for such an amazing company. Additionally, through a referral, I obtained the listing to lease the ITC Shopping Center—a 500,000 s/f power center in Mt. Olive—and I was able to commence lease signings for multiple tenants, in addition to gaining interest from Home Goods who signed a lease recently. Because of our leasing progress, we were able to provide our client multiple offers to purchase the shopping center. In December of 2021, we sold the ITC Center for around fifty million dollars. Not only did we make an incredible sale, the new owner is an inspiring thirty-two year old with an amazing vision who I continue to represent. What I was most proud of was that my brother, father, and I worked on this together. It was a true family effort, and we performed just as we told the sellers we would.

Tell us a little about your family:

I have eleven-year-old twins named Ariella and Aksel, who I love more than anything. Aksel is incredibly smart and kind. He’s a gifted chess player—and he also plays tennis, soccer, and has become a great wrestler. Ariella is my mini me. She is hardworking, compassionate, and loves to play with her baby cousins. She’s also hilarious. Like her brother, she loves sports. She plays tennis and has recently gotten into softball—just like me, when I was her age.

Next year, I will be remarried and will officially have two more cuties, Darien and Santino, who are seven and nine. Sonny and Darien and their father, my wonderful fiancé Michael DeGeorge. have completed our family. I’m extra lucky that Michael is also in the real estate industry. We work well together and motivate each other both in the business and at home. In the summer we spend a lot of time on the water, kayaking, tubing, crabbing, and entertaining. Off season, we have just as much fun, planning Halloween or Christmas parties, or our next adventures together.

If you are the primary caregiver to your children what obstacle and challenges do you meet on a day to day basis?

I have been a “single” mom for the past five years, so yes, I have been the primary caregiver, along with having many other responsibilities. I am very fortunate enough to live very close to my parents, and my mother is incredibly helpful. I also have wonderful siblings, all of whom have helped me over the years to raise my kids. It’s an enormous blessing. We also have an incredible extended family. My grandmother babysat my twins when they were babies, and I have the support of wonderful aunts, cousins, and friends. It takes a village! Being a mom and a professional, even with all of this support, it’s hard work. I have to manage my time well, and this takes a lot of effort and planning.

What inspiring word of advice would you give to a young woman about to go into the field of commercial real estate or your allied field?

Set yourself apart by really doing your research. Be strategic in how you approach prospects. Be professional. Ask questions to learn about what your client’s needs and requirements are. Do not be afraid to admit when you are uncertain of something. People respect the truth. Be diligent and follow up—this is the most important thing you can do as a broker in this business. Try to set up phone appointments, rather than playing phone tag. Be organized—and create to do lists. Never give up and stay positive!

Why did you choose the field/profession you are in today?

Since my father, Richard Brunelli, started the company forty-five years ago, I literally grew up in the business. I am naturally competitive which you need to be in this industry, and I love that this job allows you to earn more based on what you put into it. I learn well through osmosis, and I was able to get hands on experience at a very young age, prior to graduating from Monmouth University. I was also able to meet people and gain relationships within the industry—all of which helped me thrive as my career continued to grow. I am currently the President and a Principal. The majority of my time goes into deal making as I represent multiple Tenants and Landlords, but I also get involved in our marketing, managing and assisting sales people, and growing our client base. As the President of RJ Brunelli & Co., I work hard at creating a supportive, familial atmosphere where people feel like they can grow.

How do you manage the work/life balance?

If I need to take my kids to the office, they don’t mind, and I love for them to learn like I did. My eleven-year-old daughter, Ariella, especially enjoys spending time at the office with me, creating site plans, and typing my emails. I even shot a video of her in an available storefront, as she told the audience what categories of tenants we were seeking. I told her that I really want her to start creating edited marketing videos for me—she is that good!

Today, I can work from anywhere really, and that helps tremendously as a mom. This year I have had to spend a few hours in the office almost every weekend to catch up on all my work in order to get it all done. I am also very fortunate to have a very close family to help with everything including my kids busy after school schedule. MAREJ


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