Louise M. Sunshine’s life has been one of almost epic proportions, an open book whose chapters reveal a woman who has not only overcome many obstacles and challenges, but who has risen to the very highest echelons of the business world while holding firm to her beliefs that living itself should be about fulfillment in the heart, the mind and the home.
Louise’s first taste of real estate, design, and advertising was given to her by her grandfather Barney Pressman, the founder of Barneys New York. It took a great deal of determination on her part to discover her own individuality, which she ultimately did when she began studying at the liberal arts college, Brandeis University in Massachusetts, an institution that allowed her to tap into a creativity that would one day enable her to make a true contribution to the way people today live their lives.
Although she wouldn’t realize it for some years to come, her studies of the world’s great artists, writers and thinkers would ultimately enable Louise to transcend her own daily existence and embrace a world where lifestyles should and could be built to suit.
To prepare herself for taking over her father’s commercial property holding companies, she enrolled at New York University and began studying business and real estate. However, when she became a mother of three children, for the first time in her life, she knew exactly who and what she was and she devoted herself to her new family, earning in the process the richest reward she says she’s ever gained. She sat on the board of Dalton, her children’s school; she was President of the New York University Hospital Ladies Auxiliary and she did book keeping for her husband.
Then, in 1973, Louise was invited to a political luncheon to hear Assemblyman Albert H. Blumenthal speak. His visionary oratory motivated her to volunteer to raise money for the Assemblyman’s campaign – a challenge to which she rose to the tune of $250,000 in just a few weeks. Her success led to a request from the newly-elected governor of New York, Hugh L. Carey, to join his finance committee and embark on what would be the first of many groundbreaking endeavors.
Now, for the first time in her career Louise would turn tradition on its head. She instituted a program that changed the face of political fundraising in the state by thinking like the great literary figures she had studied. She was appointed State Treasurer of the Democratic Party, became a Democratic National Committeewoman, a member of the state’s Job Development Authority and Vice Chairman of the State Thruway Authority. Yet it was her ability to embrace contributors to the Party that set her apart from her peers, and she developed and maintained relationships with donors whom she intrinsically knew wanted to feel like they were making a difference not only in their own lives but in the lives of others.
One such donor was legendary real estate developer, Donald J. Trump, who saw in Louise an unleashed power to change the way people think and invited her to join his then fledgling empire.
Louise registered as a lobbyist and went to work for Trump in a two-room office on New York’s Lexington Avenue. Her first project was to help fulfill the developer’s vision of building a convention center on the West Side of the city, and while he had the vision, she had the wherewithal to convince the powers that be of the benefits of the project. It was the first in a succession of successful ventures the pair would bring to fruition that included hotels, apartment buildings, office towers and resorts all over the world.
It was also one of the biggest learning experiences of Louise Sunshine’s life and where she honed her own skills in the business of developing, marketing and branding properties - embracing the knowledge the phenomena who would become known simply as ‘The Donald’ shared - while refining her own innate ability to educate and advise others.
But as she climbed the ladder in a field then dominated by men, there were personal sacrifices to be made and Sunshine’s marriage ended in divorce in 1980. She threw herself into raising her children single-handedly while helping build an organization that would become world-renowned in the development and marketing of property branded with the name Trump.
After the extraordinary success of Trump Tower, Louise saw a future for herself in the burgeoning business of predevelopment planning, marketing and new construction sales. Her passion for art and design coupled with her altruistic desire to make a difference in people’s lives compelled her to start her own firm marketing luxury condominiums in New York City.
She hit the ground running with the launch of The Sunshine Group in 1986 when she copyrighted the phrase “All Square Feet Are Not Created Equal,” and, once again, set about redefining the way people thought about how they live their daily lives. Louise was hailed as a branding genius as she built her business to an $8 billion machine that pulled the home sales industry into a new realm where pioneering digital technology and computer simulations could give people an insight to not only where they could live, but how they could live.
Her unique understanding of the interplay between the complexities of the marketplace and the rigors of the development process made her the number one choice of the world’s leading developers. Her own advocacy of the role distinguished architecture and art have in the process of home building led her to work with some of the most renowned architects of the day - Frank Gehry, Richard Meier, Robert Stern, Cesar Pelli, Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey, Jean Nouvel, Jacques Herzog, and Pierre de Mueron to name just some – and she worked tirelessly with important galleries as she demonstrated to others who would soon follow that great homes live with great art.
From her base in New York City, Louise Sunshine’s name became synonymous with some of America’s most exclusive homes, from Palm Beach to Las Vegas, Connecticut to California, as she cultivated the style and glamour that brought luxury living to the mainstream. Almost overnight, the international media began to sit up and take notice and the backroom brains that conceived and executed strategies for selling a lifestyle, not just a home, were suddenly de rigueur.
Louise also grew to become a legendary teacher to those around her, the young men and women in whom she had seen some of that passion for life and living on which she herself has thrived. She began building what she calls her true legacy by cultivating the talent around her and mentoring protégés who would go on to make their own mark in the world. As she herself put it, “The greatest thing someone can do is pass on their knowledge, inspiration and talent to other people and allow them to grow.”
At the height of The Sunshine Group’s success, Louise was courted by NRT, Inc., a subsidiary of the Cendant Corporation, what was then America’s biggest residential real estate company. She saw an opportunity to take her firm to the global level using the resources of a worldwide conglomerate to leverage her own knowledge and, in June 2002, she sold her firm to NRT, Inc. remaining as Chairman and CEO.
Then, in 2005, the group was merged with another Cendant subsidiary, the New York based residential behemoth, The Corcoran Group, a company founded by another woman hailed as a visionary in her field, Barbara Corcoran. Louise was named Chairman Emeritus of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group and, while continuing to steer her company as it developed new and innovative marketing techniques, acted as senior advisor to President and CEO Pamela Liebman.
The merger would produce the powerhouse of 21st century residential real estate that annually propelled $5 billion worth of bricks and mortar into the arena of luxury lifestyles and leave no one in any doubt that Louise Sunshine was indeed a legend in her time.
Yet despite her unparalleled success, Louise continued to be driven by a desire to do more. “That’s what drives me,” she once said. “When I get up in the morning, I don’t think of myself as successful. I always think I can be better, do better.” As so it was that, in the summer of 2006, Louise parted ways with the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group to embark on what she calls her third career.
Today, Sunshine has formed LMS Consulting LLC. LMS Consulting LLC provides global real estate solutions bringing the top real estate minds to the world’s iconic residential, mixed-use and resort development projects with the strongest potential for profit, growth and recognition. Working from inception, pre-development, or at any point in the development process LMS Consulting LLC conceives the brand, marketing, design and sales infrastructure necessary to create value and sell the world’s leading properties.
Louise Sunshine’s own lifetime of experiences has positioned her to tap into what she sees as an underserved market, one where luxury is not just a commodity but a necessity, where personal fulfillment and professional accomplishment fuse to create what can only be described as an epic lifestyle that grows from a single grain of sand to one person’s true vision of their life.
Her mission now is to use her knowledge to impact people in the most profound way, the way they live.
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