Davonne Reaves and Jessica Myers, both 33, grew up in a working family and first met in college in the early 2000s. Their relationship has since evolved from mere college roommates to business partners.
The fellow Georgia State University alum never imagined that they would become hotel owners, being hospitality and journalism majors. But after about 11 years, the two former college roommates are now the youngest African-American women to ever co-own a property in a major hotel chain, according to BlackBusiness.
Reaves and Myers both pursued different career paths after college. Reaves spent a chunk of her professional career in the hospitality industry, event planning, working in restaurants, hotels, among others. In 2015, she took up a career-changing role in Boston as an associate for CHMWarnick, the largest third-party hotel asset management company in the country.
After serving in the role for two years, she returned to Atlanta and that was how she reconnected with Myers. At the time, Myers was working in the communications and advertising industry and consulted for brands like CBS and Outfront Media.
She took interest in ownership after watching HGTV episodes. This led her to flip single-family properties. She honed her business skills and turned her side hustle into a major career goal of “owning over 1,000 doors in the commercial real estate space.”
How did they become hotel investors?
Reaves and Myers formed an ownership group of mostly millennials and partnered with Nassau Investments to acquire the Home2 Suites by Hilton El Reno, Oklahoma, located about 30 miles from Oklahoma City, according to Black Business.
“I never thought by the time I was 33 that I’d be a hotel owner, but I admit that it feels great to have accomplished that at this point in my life,” said Reaves, mom to a two-year-old son. “Making history in the process, well that’s just icing on the cake!”
Statistically, only two percent of African-Americans are hotel owners. For Myers, their hotel investment captures the big picture goals she and Reaves share. “There’s a big void there and we want to help fill it.”
The hotel deal, which hovered around $8.3 million, is a dream come true for Myers co-partner Reaves. “I have done just about every job possible and worked every shift,” Reaves says. “The only thing I haven’t done is unclog a toilet.” Following their investment into the deal, the two are now believed to be the youngest African-American women to co-own a property in a major hotel chain.
The former college mates still maintain their separate firms: The Vonne Group and It’s Jessica Myers, but in 2019, they also formed Epiq Collective, to collaborate on commercial real estate ventures, according to Black Business. “Our goal is to own at least 1,000 ‘doors’ and create 221 hotel owners in 2021,” said Myers of their real estate plan.
“We’re so proud to bring that ‘Black girl magic’ to the commercial real estate industry; this is just the beginning,” Reaves added.