Jennifer Hobson isn’t your typical real estate professional. An attorney by trade, who also majored in economics and earned a degree in business, this 32-year Memphis veteran is taking the city by storm. She’s Vice President of Hobson Realtors, a top Memphis residential real estate firm that she runs with her husband, Joel Hobson, and she’s also a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Club of Realtors and an active Chairman’s Circle member of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce. Did we mention she has two kids, two umbrella cockatoos, three dogs, two turtles, an African tortoise named El Chapo and a partridge in a pear tree? Okay, so we made that last one up, but her “husbandry of animals,” as she fondly refers to it, is in full effect! And if her family, menagerie of pets and various work endeavors don’t keep her busy enough, Jennifer is deeply invested in her local non-profit work. She pours her heart into the students and staff at Hanley Elementary School in Orange Mound (a historic, southeast Memphis neighborhood built on the grounds of a former plantation), and she co-chaired the Regional One Gala this past April, helping to raise $800,000. Then there’s her most recent effort: helping a homeless man at her favorite Starbucks, with whom she has established a friendship. She dedicates her time and love to countless local philanthropic endeavors in Memphis, proving that home truly is where the heart is. Please welcome Jennifer Hobson, our newest FACE of Memphis.
Can you tell us about your background?
Well, I turned 40 this year! It actually feels great, you know? I’m an attorney by trade — I went to the University of Memphis School of Law and practiced for a few years. Now I exclusively sell real estate for our company, Hobson Realtors. The company was started by my husband, Joel’s, family back in the ’70s.
Majoring in economics, with degrees in both business and law, what led you to real estate?
Joel has only sold real estate. Every night when we would come home, we would sit and talk about his real estate deals. It’s a lot like practicing law — with all the contracts and quite a bit of legal work, which I don’t do. I just do the real estate side of it. But having a background in law kind of lent itself to doing real estate. I really just enjoy being with people — I love to help people find a home versus a house.
Can you talk about your philanthropic work and the organizations you’re most passionate about?
I have a friend, Tammy Golwen, and she introduced me to Hanley Elementary. Hanley is important to me. It’s in a very historic neighborhood in Memphis — Orange Mound. It’s in a very poor, impoverished part of town now, over the proverbial railroad tracks, but there’s a lot of pride over there. I used to be able to walk to that school, and it was like walking back into time — like going from one world to another. And I really just couldn’t believe that we could all just ride up and down our streets and go about our day, and a mile away there were children that the only meal they’re getting is at school. And they’re wearing the same clothes to school every day that are dirty. Until you go look poverty in the eye, you just don’t realize how fortunate we all are. So I got really involved at the school — that was about five years ago.
I’ve done a couple of GoFundMe campaigns. I love to put that out there. It’s not like, “Hey, look what I’m doing; I’m helping others,” it’s like, “Hey, I’m doing this. Do you want to help me get involved?” I think the more you get people involved in your community, to make your community better and lift everybody up, it helps everybody in Memphis.
My recent thing I’ve been doing — there’s a man at my Starbucks — and you know, I love my Starbucks. I like being in an urban city with everybody from all walks of life. It just feels right. It feels like a city — it’s inclusive; it’s diverse. I even take my parrot to Starbucks (I have two umbrella cockatoos but only one of them likes to ride in the car — Sunshine). I get coffee there every morning, so I know everybody that works there. But there’s a man that’s been up there, and we’ve kind of established this relationship with him. My husband came home one day and he’s like, “I just couldn’t take it anymore — we’ve gotta get him a haircut … I’m going to take him to get a haircut.” And I was like, “You should!” That made my heart so happy. So our friend owns Gould’s, the hair salon here in town. Joel called and said, “Can we bring our friend in and get him a haircut?” And Philip Gould was like, “Well, of course. And I’m going to pay for it.”
You have such a giving heart. Was there someone or something that inspired you to do the work you do?
Tammy Golwen is a friend of mine, and I started volunteering with her in the Orange Mound neighborhood. I watched her pour herself into these children and I saw her selfless love for Memphis.
I just feel so fortunate and blessed. What comes to mind — there’s that Bible verse: “To whom much is given, much shall be expected.” That weighs on me. I just love Memphis so much. I want to give more than my tax dollars — at least I can control that! If I go buy the coats, and pick out the sizes myself and hand them one, I know somebody got a coat. I know where it’s going.
We cannot control things in Washington, DC, or what happens overseas — I feel helpless. But I can make little dents and pockets of happiness in my city. I think that if we all just focus on the man who’s at our Starbucks or the kids who are a mile away — what we can change, what we can impact — that’s where you make a difference. Make that difference where you live. It means so much more to your community and it will add up.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
Well, I always use the birds … but most people in Memphis already know I have my cockatoos. They see us around. I’m really a nerd at heart. I started a chess club at my school in sixth grade, and I played the French horn all through middle school.
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What book is currently on your nightstand?
I am reading this book by this lady in Memphis named Carolyn Chism Hardy, called Look Up. I met her on the board of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce. She’s got a fascinating story and I love everything about her. She is an inspiration … so motivational.
What is your ideal night out in Memphis?
I love to grab a quick, early bite somewhere in Overton Square and then go catch a concert at the Levitt Shell; that is my idea of heaven. My favorite restaurants (if it’s not fast food): I love to go to Tsunami or Kelly English’s The Second Line. When I’m flying home on planes, I love to ask the flight attendants where they’re staying and I’m like, “Oh man, if y’all are staying downtown, you’ve got to go to Earnestine’s (Earnestine & Hazel’s) and get a soul burger. That’s one of my favorite places to send people.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“If you want something done, give it to somebody who’s busy.” People who are busy just know how to take care of business.
Faith, family and friends notwithstanding, what are three things that you can’t live without?
1. Starbucks coffee. 2. Krystal cheeseburgers. Really, any fast food — I’m a fast-food junkie. 3. Sileni Sauvignon Blanc. In that order!
Thank you for inspiring us, Jennifer! And special thanks to photographer Abbey Bratcher for the images of Jennifer and Sunshine.
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