We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennie Caterinacci – Preston and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jennie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always loved curating beautiful spaces, for as long as I can remember. The first memories I have dabbling in design was back in middle school when I convinced my parents to let me sponge paint by childhood bedroom with various shades of blue,  (Honestly, it really wasn’t THAT terrible!) In my college years, I convinced my roommate that we should transform our dreary Ohio dorm room into an Italian inspired villa. We spent nights braiding together vineyard inspired garland with faux grapes and roses and decorating the walls with “Italian inspired artwork,” which really just included a budget-friendly poster of the 1960’s Rat Pack that hung prominently on the wall next to an oversized Italian flag.  Thankfully, my design style has matured, and my college roommate, undeterred by my non-traditional college hobbies, is still one of my best friends to this day.

Fast forward 7 years post-college, I was now living in Phoenix, Arizona and was working in luxury hotels and resorts. I was also dating a guy who loved DIY projects as much as I did. We would spend our weekends refinishing furniture and tackling DIY projects.  Around this time was the launch of Flip or Flop on HGTV, a show that followed a married couple on their successes and failures flipping houses in Southern California. After we saw the show, we were hooked. We really wanted to take on our first flip …and our business, Mulberry Homes, was born.  Mulberry Homes has evolved from a single investment property, into a small portfolio of short-term and long-term rentals, as well as now providing design services to our clients. We named our business after Mulberry Street, where two of our investment properties are located in Scottsdale. We adopted the Mulberry Tree as our logo because we loved that the Mulberry Tree symbolizes faith, patience, wisdom, abundance and growth.  We couldn’t think of a better name, and logo, to personify our goals as a business, and the rest is history.

We bought our first investment property in 2015. It was a 1600sq ft, 2-story townhome – a time capsule from the 1960s complete with original avocado kitchen cabinets, mauve carpeting in the bathrooms, and a funky, and very dated, floorplan. We jumped in with big plans to gut and reconfigure the whole space, and documented all of our progress on social media, which affectionately was hashtagged #the30dayreno. Well, as most first flips go, we were behind schedule and our 30 day reno turned into the #90dayreno. We even had to move into the home before the downstairs was drywalled so we didn’t have a kitchen, or any appliances, for the first few weeks. The final design turned out better than we had imagined, reconfiguring the space into a bright, open concept that was fit for a trendy young couple. Our friends and family couldn’t really believe what we had accomplished in three months, and we felt proud and confident to do it again and again.

Since that first project, we have continued to flip and hold properties, building a small rental portfolio of both short-term rentals (Airbnb/vrbo) and long-term rental properties. We do a lot of the work ourselves and I have installed thousands of sq ft of flooring, installed tile backsplashes, shiplap feature walls, painted dozens of walls and ceilings, installed light fixtures and fans and all sorts of odds and ends in between. Our biggest renovation to date was in 2019 when we bought an old  1960s ranch home (it had been vacant for 13 years, btw) and completely gutting it down to the studs – all new electric, underslab plumbing, you name it – but it was also such an amazing creative process to redesign a house from the ground up. We turned a dilapidated 3bedroom/2bath into a 5bedroom/3bath showstopper. While I absolutely love designing spaces, kitchens and bathrooms, adding the short-term rentals in our portfolio really gave me an additional creative outlet to decorate the spaces, as well once we were finished with the renovations.

In addition to flipping houses, I am also a licensed Realtor with HomeSmart Elite, certified Home Stager, Property Manager, Vacation Rental Host, and recent graduate of New York Institute of Art & Design’s Interior Design program, where I was nominated for Graduate of the Year.  Completing the NYIAD design program really gave me confidence to start designing for other people besides my own projects. Since graduation in December,  I have designed and executed 5 client projects including 2 kitchen renovations, 2 bathroom renovations, and am in the middle of a kitchen reno for another client. One client told me I “blew their mind with my floorplan design and mood board,” which thinking back to a year ago, I didn’t even know how to make a formal mood board to present to clients. Ha! It was really a big compliment!  Our short-term rentals continue to flourish, and currently have over 150+ ALL 5/5 star reviews, many with reviews and comments about the beautiful spaces they enjoyed during their trip to Arizona. I really love everything that Mulberry Homes has evolved into, from designing beautiful spaces to hosting and providing exceptional guest experiences! You can follow along on our journey at MulberryHomesAZ.com.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Maybe I over answered the the first question, ha!

I would say that starting something new can be terrifying and overwhelming. I am a perfectionist so not doing something well the first time is my nightmare. Also, it’s easy to get intimidated by other people doing bigger and better things. But what I will say is that sometimes you have to take a step back to ultimately take a few steps forward. You may be terrible at something the first time, but it’s only your first time one time. You can do anything one time!

After working in luxury hotels/resorts like the St. Regis in Aspen, the Phoenician Resort in PHX and the JW Camelback Inn in Scottsdale for 10 years, and then doing hospitality tradeshows and media sales for a few more years, I made a huge career jump into real estate in 2017. After getting my real estate license, I decided to go a non-traditional (and maybe more difficult) route and not join a team or a broker that would feed new agents leads, and go out on my own. I hit the ground, literally, and went door to door to drum up leads, with biz cards and brochures I had created using online software. Last year I had 4.7m in real estate transactions!

Meanwhile, in addition to my real estate clients and our flips, in 2020 I decided to add another thing to my plate and to go back to school again and complete the interior design program at New York Institute of Art & Design. One of my biggest fears about designing for other people really came from a lack of confidence. The NYIAD program really helped me hone in on my design skills and feel more comfortable working with clients in that realm.

Even still, it’s easy for me to be intimidated by other agents killing it, or other designers who work at large design firms, or other investors with more investment properties, but then I have a humbling moment that someone calls ME asking for advice on how to design their first kitchen remodel, or ask me how to launch their first airbnb, or how to find their first investment property, and I’m reminded that what I am doing is making an impact on others. I am flattered to be viewed as an expert in theses areas, and I love the opportunity to help guide my clients through whatever “first” they are working through personally or professionally.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are so many fabulous things to do and see in Scottsdale, AZ. We have access to over 300 golf courses, dozens of hiking trails, beautiful resorts, museums, art galleries, and hundreds of fun restaurants. When we have friends in town, we like to take them hiking on the iconic Camelback Mountain, followed by brunch and mimosas at one of Old Town Scottsdale’s popular weekend spots. There is also a waterfront area in Old Town Scottsdale which hosts live events and festivals on the weekends, surrounded by quaint boutique shops filled with locally-made and curated goods. It’s a popular place to spend an afternoon.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Nick, is the ultimate dreamer and supporter. He thinks outside of the box, and can always sees the potential in people and opportunities. He really encouraged me to pursue my passion in Design and take our real estate biz, Mulberry Homes, to the next level.

Website: www.mulberryhomesaz.com

Instagram: @mulberryhomesaz

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.