Welcome to CelebHomes’s Tales From the Top, our series on women who are leaders in their fields and masters of their craft. Spanning industries and experiences, these powerhouse women answer all the questions you’ve ever had about how they got to where they are today—and what they overcame to get there. Read along as they bring their resumés to life. 

You never know where that life-changing spark of inspiration will lead you. For Cheryl EisenIt was on her mom’s sofa. 

Eisen was running her own company for a time in the ’90s. But, in the midst of the dot-com bubble crash, her executive search firm went under and the entrepreneur was suddenly unemployed with a tricky job history. CelebHomes News exclusive interview: She said that she was broke in her 30s and living on the couch with my mom. “I had to reinvent myself.” “Nobody would hire you because I had a CEO on my resume, and I didn’t go to college.” 

While she had already tried a variety of gigs—art director, graphic designer and Macintosh software teacher to name a few—Eisen next turned to real estate, securing her license and a spot at an agency where commissions were her income. She was a savvy businesswoman and stood out in a saturated market when she got an idea from an unexpected source. “I had been watching HGTV in my unemployment days and I came across this show called The StagersShe recalled that no one was doing it in New York at that time. I thought, “This is really cool.” Maybe I could be a stager who sells property.

New York City native, who grew up with an interest for art, decided to combine the two. “I was creative. I had a good eye. I had no experience but I knew that I needed to have a difference in order to be competitive in New York realty. It is a very competitive market to get listings. “And I saw it as an opportunity.” 

While Eisen had to take on the costs of staging the spaces herself, she took inspiration from a book on Kelly Hoppen‘s interior designs and got to work. The impact was immediate. It was so easy to do it again. She said that the property was sold at full-ask and all cash. It was fully furnished. The seller had been trying unsuccessfully to sell it for almost a year. Brokers noticed and asked, “Wow, what’s this staging thing?” Can you also stage my listing? And so then I was not only staging my own listings—and I got a lot of business from it—but also other brokers’ and other agents’ listings. It really took off from there.