Kelly Forrester: Creating a Legacy
Strong, proud, passionate and widely recognised as a respected, thought leading figure within her industry, Kelly Forrester, at just 39 years old, is the award-winning founder of Clear Property; an independent estate agency in Exeter’s leafy Southernhay. Home to a team of 13, Clear is the parent company of Clear 3D, a new, immersive venture embracing world-class, cutting-edge, digital technology.
Trust, communication and absolute transparency have, over the past eleven years, seen Kelly rise to the pinnacle of her industry; overcoming personal trauma, challenge, and setbacks in her path.
Exeter Real’s Tracey Duke caught up with the woman making huge waves in the city, to talk confidence, strength, and vision.
Photography by Pip Andersen
Kelly it’s so good to meet up with you! This past year has seen fantastic growth for Clear Property and for you personally; the launch of Clear 3D has been hugely successful, you were listed as one of Exeter’s 100 Most Influential Women, scooped a prestigious Exeter Living Award, won a national industry award and, of course, you’ve just announced the launch of The Empress Academy. Is there any stopping you?
No is the answer and yes, it’s been an incredible year; I’m so grateful!
Talk me through it and bring me back to its core. Where did your growth stem from?
I think if we pull things right back, my personal growth comes back to a deep understanding of who I am, of where I want to go, what I want to achieve and what matters to me most.
I’ve got the confidence, the strategy for development is in place and I’ve got the drive and energy to make it happen. I’m constantly looking at where I am and where I want to be.
The best thing about it all is that I’m doing this for myself, for my team and for my family; it isn’t about proving anything to anybody.
Had it been so previously? Was trying to prove you’re ‘enough’ the focus and drive for you?
It was; I spent ten years doing that. But that shouldn’t be the reason for drive. The truth is that we’re all ‘enough’, we just tell ourselves otherwise; it’s the biggest hindrance to moving forward. But now I’ve made peace with my past and with things that happened to me when I was younger. I’m stronger now, wiser too and for a while the focus hasn’t been on trying to prove I’m enough; it’s about knowing I am. It’s also about my relationships, time with my children, giving back and standing proud.
You have to be one of the most energetic women I know; you have this energy about you that truly says anything is possible. But what about the challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When you set the bar high, you’re always going to have to face challenges; there will always be obstacles you have to overcome. You can’t reach the stars without having a few challenges along the way. I’m not afraid of the challenges though and I would never put my team in a position where I wasn’t as certain as I could be that we could overcome them. It’s always about having that growth mindset.
Is there anything that scares you? Anything you’d back away from?
My crazy ideas scare me; but what is it they say? “If it both scares and excites you then you should definitely do it!”
The thing is, it’s important to challenge yourself, but it’s just as important to recognise and appreciate the smaller steps you’ve made too. That’s something I take stock of every day now. I have my action list of things to do, but also make sure that I take time to recognise that I’ve completed those tasks. Sometimes we can get so caught up in what’s next on the list that we forget to appreciate what we’ve just done.
Kelly you’ve become so well known and loved within in the city; your love for your community is clear for everyone to see and you stand very much at its heart. What’s next for you?
I love my city and the business community and, whilst Clear Property will always remain my focus in Exeter, my plan is to take Clear 3D; a new era of digital technology, nationwide. We’re only just seeing the tip of the iceberg as to what it can do. 3D Showcases, which essentially create a powerful virtual reality, immersive experience inside a building or space of any business, are absolutely the way forward. I’m completely committed to its development and, in particular, my speciality area of luxury hotels and new homes developments of all sizes; as a marketing tool its capabilities are mind-blowing!
I’m very much all or nothing; always have been. When I commit to a vision, I’m always looking at the bigger picture and considering what else can come from it.
Which brings us to another new venture; the Empress Academy. Am I right in thinking it was born out of the 100 Women Exeter initiative?
It was. I remember waking up one morning a few months back; it was 5.30am and the idea was right there. It was so incredibly powerful, with an urgency I’ve never felt before; I knew I had to act on it there and then. I remember frantically scribbling the notes down before they escaped my mind and feeling this unshakeable knowing that I needed to create an Academy for high achieving women in Exeter.
And that’s exactly what you’re meant to do; when you get a really powerful gut feeling, you should always take massive action. So many of us will get a powerful idea out of seemingly no-where; the passion will be there, the excitement will be there, but no sooner have we had the idea, then we’re talking ourselves out of it and it never happens.
I never do that. I’m resilient, highly organised and effective. More life lessons than I can count have brought me to a place of knowing that great ideas are meant to be acted on. If they are, and if they come from a genuine place, incredible things happen; the right doors will open and the right people will enter your life. It happens every time.
Tell me a little more about the Academy. What lies at its heart?
Despite outward appearances, both you and I, along with many others, have had moments of self-doubt; moments when we’ve had to dig really, really, deep and find the strength just to keep going. There have been times when we’ve both questioned whether we’ve been good enough and whether we can keep going. It’s been at those times that we’ve turned to other strong women within the city for support. The result; we’ve become stronger, wiser and more resilient.
As women we have our challenges; that’s no great secret. There are those who will try to hold us back and suffocate our drive and spirit. That said, there are also those incredibly supportive types who will do everything they can to support and encourage us; we must never lose sight of that.
I feel, passionately, that all women should be able to achieve what they want to achieve in life; that we should all have the chance to shine.
And that’s the dream behind The Empress Academy; to help successful, driven women to climb even higher and, as a result, help other women within their companies and communities to do exactly the same.
Exeter is such an incredible city; it has a buzz and a growth-focused vibrancy I’ve not seen before. It’s the perfect place and time to start something new and to use the platform of 100 Women Exeter to do that. If we can inspire women, across the city, to take charge of their lives; to thrive, dream and love without judgment, then that can only be a great thing.
Kelly, I think you’re doing an incredible thing; you’re creating a true legacy for the city and helping drive us forward.
Thank you! But you don’t ever get anywhere on your own. I have a fantastic committee working on the Academy and an amazing team at Clear and Clear 3D; I honestly couldn’t do any of this without them.
And what about you? Where do you go to get your inspiration? To recharge?
It would have to be Killerton Estate. I’m a country girl at heart; I love to be outdoors in nature. I’m quite spiritual in many ways and I find that even just a short time outside can completely recharge my batteries and set me free!
I do also have a couple of books, filled with motivational quotes, which I read every morning without fail. I just open up a page and there’ll be a great life quote that I’ll think about for a few seconds. It’s so important to take time for inspiration.
If you look after yourself; if you invest in your own growth and surround yourself with amazing, motivated people who believe in you, the sky really is the limit.
The Empress Academy launches on November 29th at the beautiful Deer Park Hotel. Membership to the Academy is by invitation only and opens its doors in January 2019.
This article was taken from The Samphire Club Magazine.
The Samphire Club is a private members club that promotes a better way of networking throughout, and between, the South West and London. For more information click here.