Carolyn Byrnes, an agent with The Carolina’s Finest team in North Carolina, didn’t expect to learn so many lessons from her Victoria’s Secret supermodel sister, Martha Hunt. But, it turns out, a lot of business principles translate from modeling to real estate. Here are Byrnes’ top six.

Carolyn Byrnes, an agent with The Carolina’s Finest team at Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, stepped off of a United Airlines flight from Wilmington, North Carolina to New York’s LaGuardia airport for her sister’s 30th birthday party and ended up in the famed New York Post’s Page Six column.

And while the party was for family and friends, those in attendance happened to be some of the biggest names in modeling and social media. All because Byrnes’s younger sister is Martha Hunt, a Victoria’s Secret supermodel with more than 3.1 million followers on Instagram.

The story in Page Six read:

‘Martha Hunt celebrates 30th birthday with VIP bash’

Victoria’s Secret model Martha Hunt celebrated her 30th birthday at Public on Saturday with celeb pals including Gigi Hadid. Hunt’s boyfriend Jason McDonald was so excited that he even brought out two birthday cakes with sparklers. Justin Theroux, Emily Ratajkowski, Elsa Hosk, Sara Sampaio and Hunt’s realtor sibling Carolyn Byrnes were among the crowd who stayed till 2 a.m.

“I never stay up that late anymore, so I was wiped out when my husband and I flew home,” Byrnes said. “I was running around last Tuesday morning with my little ones and getting ready for work and started to get a bunch of texts. And then Martha called. She had no idea Page Six knew about the party. But she was super excited that I was a bold name too.”

While her sister went from her birthday party to a week filled with photo shoots, Byrnes returned to her normal world working with Wilmington-area buyers and sellers.

“I love my sister to death, and we are really close,” Byrnes said. “She’s still the same little sister that I bickered with and protected. She lives in a different world now, but she’s still Martha and treats everyone amazingly well, just like you would expect from a really sweet girl from a small town in eastern North Carolina.

“And I’m fortunate that while modeling and real estate are different, there are also so many similarities. I’ve learned so much from Martha that have impacted our business.”

Byrnes has been able to emulate a lot that she has learned from Hunt on her eight-person real estate team led by Jessica Edwards. Here are her top takeaways:

1. Come up with a strategy, and stick with it

Byrnes: Having a strategy is a huge lesson from Martha. We don’t see what goes on behind the scenes, but I’ve learned how strategic she and the companies that hire her are.

Martha and I have had long talks about this, and when I share what I’ve learned with our team, it opens our eyes as to how we can improve our business and protect our time by being strategic.

Everything we do should have a purpose with an eye on today — and also tomorrow.

2. Be aware of your image

Byrnes: Martha and her modeling friends obviously have to maintain their image and their look, and I know how hard they work at that. We’ve interpreted that into our business.

All of us work hard to dress appropriately, be classy and humble, practice our presentations and work with the best people in our area.

3. Treat your support staff well

Byrnes: Martha’s world is really competitive. While each girl has a small team and agency around them, it is all about the girl’s style, look and personality that matters.

But Martha and I have talked about those who get big-headed and don’t treat people well. They eventually lose business. Real estate is similar.

It’s an individual or team game, but we are part of a bigger group. Our team has Courtney Cutting, Lee Lee King and Caylor Arnold behind the scenes, and they are amazing.

We love our company. We love our broker Tim Milam, and know the support staff invested time, money and energy into making us better. We love sharing our successes and being involved in others’ successes.

4. Invest in good imagery  

Byrnes: I think we all know the value of great photography, but seeing what goes into one of Martha’s shoots reminds us of how important every little detail should be. Jessica [Edwards] gets that. Remember she was one of the video pioneers in real estate.

The homes we are selling are our models. Therefore we’ve learned to let the photographers we use have creative license, but they also have to understand what we and the previous owners love about the home and its story.

That has to come out, and photographers capture that.

5. Make opportunities work for you

Byrnes: Martha has worked really, really hard. I remember when she was “discovered.” She was 14 and beautiful, tall and skinny. And she has her awesome personality that everyone were drawn to.

She got a shot and made it. But on every step of the way, she had to work, and learn. It’s incredible how she has put herself “out there” on social media to generate awareness.

OMG, she gets 75 thousand likes on a post!  

We have definitely learned from her and follow her lead on social with a heavy focus on Instagram. We are constantly evolving and learning.

For example, our team is working so hard to become a leader with Coldwell Banker Global Luxury in our market. While doing a great job and gaining a reputation is opening the door for us, we have learned from my sister that that won’t be enough.

The competition is fierce.

We have to be ahead of them in everything we do and work really hard right at the outset to make sure our listing and marketing presentations are incredible. And we definitely practice for those meetings. We try not to leave anything to chance.

6. Be ‘on’ all the time 

Byrnes: I’ve been with Martha and her celebrity friends. When they are together privately they laugh and joke like any group, but in a moment’s notice they turn it on.

It might be a little girl wanting to meet them, paparazzi or a job. As real estate agents, we have to be the same way. We all want our private time, but just about every moment is a potential opportunity.

We talk about this as a team. When we are out, even with our kids, we know we have to be ready to turn it on. Our life is our business.

How do you stay ahead in a changing market? Inman Connect Las Vegas — Featuring 250+ experts from across the industry sharing insight and tactics to navigate threat and seize opportunity in tomorrow’s real estate. Join over 4,000 top producers, brokers and industry leaders to network and discover what’s next, July 23-26 at the Aria Resort. Hurry! Tickets are going fast, register today!

Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy tickets together. Contact us to find out more.


David Siroty is the former vice president of North American public relations for Coldwell Banker and the founder of Imagine Productions, an integrated communication and content marketing firm. 

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