Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are brother and sister duo Natasha and Luca Penzo, who are the force behind Urban Blueprint, a real estate development and lifestyle company that helps their clients design and build their urban life. We caught up with them to find out what advice they’d share with other young professionals and where they like to wine and dine in Toronto…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
We run Urban Blueprint, a real estate development and lifestyle company that helps our clients design & build their urban life.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
Natasha: Starting from a very young age, we watched both our father and mother engage in this business. The work was so exciting, and our parents have been such unbelievable role models. Ultimately, real estate was something I wanted to get involved with, but I tested the waters with other jobs in fashion, beauty and design before jumping right in.
Luca: My family has played a huge roll. From a very young age I was exposed to land development, subdivisions, and flipping houses. We moved every couple of years. I always knew I wanted to build homes, but it wasn’t until I learned the ins and outs of the industry that I determined how to build my business.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Natasha: The day Urban Blueprint officially incorporated. I remember picking up our Articles and feeling so proud to take this next step in my career.
Luca: The day I got my first building permit. I hold a building code identification number (BCIN) and a Revit Architectural Certificate to create my own architectural plans and submit for building permit applications.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Natasha: Wherever opportunity takes me. There are so many things I work on today that I never thought I would be doing, so I don’t stick to a life plan too closely.
Luca: In a bigger office.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Natasha: You don’t build an impactful business or career without being deeply passionate about it, so use your early years right out of school to try lots of different things. Your level of drive will stem directly from your passion.
Luca: You need a vision. Goals will always change but your vision should stay the same. Once you have it, you just go.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
Natasha: I have co-chaired Boobyball, Rethink Breast Cancer’s annual fundraising event. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor.
Luca: I try to attend charity events often. One that stands out is the Jack Project. It is a national network of young leaders raising awareness about how we should approach mental health.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Natasha: One of the major challenges I’ve had starting a business is overcoming the tendency to micromanage. Trying to do everything on your own is virtually impossible. It’s important to understand what you are outstanding at versus just good or not great at, and then to fill those gaps with people that complement your team. I overcame it by being honest with myself, and internally, we have a very open culture when it comes to feedback.
Luca: My youth. I’m young to be doing $400,000 renovations for people twice my age. I’ve overcome this through experience, attaining more credentials than necessary, and ultimately our projects speak for themselves.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Natasha: Someone or something that draws you in, and you want to keep seeing or hearing more about.
Luca: Someone or something that is important.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Natasha: Joso’s. That squid ink risotto is my favourite dish in the city.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Natasha: Facebook or REALTOR.
Luca: Gmail and ‘Lets Ride’ by Choclair.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Natasha: Italy and South of France. The food, the wine… and our dad moved from Italy to Canada when he was in his 20s, so there is a strong connection. I’d love to go to Greece. Again, the food, wine, beaches – all sounds idyllic.
Luca: Italy. I love the culture, the people, and of course the food. The next trip I’m planning is to the Amalfi Coast.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Luca: I’ve learned to overcome this social challenge. Whatever you are missing something for is more important right now.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Natasha: Anything with lots of cheese. And licorice or jujubes.
Luca: Napping in hotel rooms.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Luca: Clothes and experiences.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Natasha: Doing what I am truly passionate about, not being afraid to venture outside my comfort zone, and being a great role model to my family.
Luca: Happiness. If you are happy you are successful.