It's a Friday afternoon at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel's new Blend Bar + Lounge, and we're sipping cocktails with globe-trotting real estate maven and director of Azanell Properties and DBB Engineering, Doreen Buchanan. A member of the Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ), the Real Estate Board (REB) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) — the world's leading real estate professional body — it's safe to say she's a force to be reckoned with. Wearing a gorgeous LBD and a string of pearls, the fabella is in chill mode.
What are you sipping?
Right now, I'm having a Mai Tai.
Take us through your workday.
I am an action-and-future-oriented person. At the end of an evening, I make note of all unfinished tasks, especially those which are most challenging. In other words, in management you eat your frogs first; new businesses are added and appointments are incorporated. By 9:00 am each day, my secretary and I would have had clear expectations of each other in terms of our output and our measurable accomplishments. Aside from Azanell Properties, I am typically an octopus, managing DBB Engineering projects and any other hardballs thrown my way. In all that I do, I reserve one hour each day for charity. However, amid all the challenges in running these two companies, I still find time for exercise at the 24hr Express Gym at Manor Centre, or simply stay home and work out with my AB King Pro, skipping rope and two 10-lb weights.
Jeans or LBD?
Little black dress. Jeans are too heavy for my skin, and if they are loose, that's not jeans.
Flats or stilettos?
Stilettos. For me, flats are basic. I'm thankful for new platforms (flats) which hoist me up a bit. Notwithstanding, I do wear flats in and around the house and out on a day positioned for a long walk or on the beach.
Who does your hair?
Elements of Beauty in Manor Centre.
Who does your nails?
Elements of Beauty or Tanisha at Consumer Plaza.
What perfume are you wearing?
Capucine by Fragonard, Paris.
What are your travel essentials?
It depends on the reason I am travelling; whether it's for relaxation, education or business. However, I never travel without a Hermès scarf, La Perla lingerie, diamond earrings, a string of pearls with matching earrings, my Rolex Presidential watch, and a pair of Ferragamo heels.
How would you describe your personal style?
I am often described as someone with a palette of sophistication and a splash of Tabasco.
Are you a romantic comedy or action adventure type of woman?
Really, it depends on my needs or feelings at the time. In life, my activities encompass all these attributes.
What is your idea of a perfect date?
An idea of a perfect date is tailored to the individual. There should be effective communication between both parties regarding the lady's likes and dislikes. For me, personally, an ideal date begins with the process of getting ready for the date. Going to the hairdresser, starting to think about what I am going to wear, to be totally dressed, including undergarments, perfume, accessories, doing the breathalizer to ensure face-up is refreshing. I would expect that my date has paid some attention to detail; for example, sending a single red rose earlier in the day, making sure he has a fresh haircut (not done a week earlier) and if he wears locks, that they are clean and neatly groomed; shoes are well heeled and shined, clothing appropriate for the evening. A fine men's cologne would be good, but if he is a naturalist, a good shower of all areas could be just as tantalising. He should not be tardy and should exhibit all the fit and polish of a gentleman. I love men with good manners. Where we go or what we do can be subject to the moment and the feeling in the air. A perfect gentleman has the ability to sense those needs.
What bad habit would you most like to put in your rear-view mirror?
We shall not have doubt about how we do things; however, being too sure about something can sometimes be dangerous.
Who inspires you?
My uncle, Sidney White. As a child living in the country, Santa Cruz, I recall that every year he would visit our home from New York, spiffily dressed in his suit, with a scarf tied around his neck, seemingly making a great deal of money. So I thought, if he lived where dreams are made and I emulated him, then my dreams would come true. He would lavishly empty clothes from the barrels he would take to us, and to top it off, we looked forward to him placing a little something in our palms. By the weekend, we were all dolled up as we filed into town for Christmas in June. I soon began researching countries and setting goals. I never severed ties with him, for guidance and inspiration.
What propelled you to enter the business of real estate?
I worked at the Eagle Commercial Bank (now RBC) for six years. After my daughter was born, my nanny thought that my husband — who was on leave at the time — should spend more time with his children, so she left him a note and went home. As he didn't how to take care of them, the pressure was placed on me to quit my job, which I did.
Despite the joys of motherhood, I felt meaningless with no personal goals. Being dressed in T-shirt and tights was not in my DNA, no matter what promises my husband made. Having left a heavily interactive job to now communicate with the four walls when the children were asleep made my torment unbearable.
I stayed home for a year and a half with my children. During this time, I searched and found my love in real estate and went in pursuit of the qualifications at the University of Technology (UTech). From there it was on to Reading University in London, where I pursued an MSc in real estate. So, once and for all, I would never have to terminate a job to be with my family due to unforeseen circumstances.
What challenges did you overcome while establishing the firm Azanell Properties, and how did you overcome them?
There were no major challenges in setting up Azanell Properties, except that the name Caribbean Properties - which I initially wanted to register - had been taken. On the spot, I thought, "No one could have registered my children's names except me," so I used the middle names of my children, "A" from my firstborn Ajani and "Zanell" from my second, hence "Azanell".
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Somewhere in the world, reading my own memoirs and checking my bank account for passive income.