The Closing: Faith Hope Consolo

Faith Hope Consolo (photo by Ben Baker)

Faith Hope ConsoloFaith Hope Consolo is the chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s retail leasing and sales division. Before joining Elliman in 2005, she served as vice chairman of Garrick-Aug Worldwide for nearly 20 years, founding the firm’s international division in 1987 and opening the European office in Paris. Well known for her signature pink and ubiquitous slogans, such as, “To Find the Best Retail Space — You Need Faith,” Consolo has brought many prominent retailers to Manhattan, including Cartier, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Giorgio Armani and Fendi.

What is your full name?

Faith Hope Consolo. That’s my given name. My mother was very eccentric. The story was she almost died having me, so she said she had faith and now she has hope.

Consolo was your maiden name — but you’ve been married three times. Did you ever take a husband’s last name?

Never. Because I never wanted to change the monogram on the luggage. In view of the number of times [I’ve been married], I think I made a smart decision.

Do you think you’d ever get married again?

Anything’s possible — why not? I’m never without a boyfriend.

Who are you dating now?

Someone very well known from Wall Street.

What is your date of birth?

Oh my God, you’re going to ask me? July 25, 1949. Just wait, somebody will write to you and say, “Oh, that’s not really her date of birth.”

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Ohio — Shaker Heights, the same town as Bruce Ratner.

Did you and Bruce know each other growing up?

No. We left there when I was two because my father died. So my mother moved us back East. I grew up in Westport, Conn.

Where do you live now?

Across from the Park, on Fifth Avenue in the 60s.

Do you have other homes?

In Westport, Conn., where I grew up — I still have that home. When I finally retire — who knows when that will be — I will buy something in Europe: Switzerland or France.

Your mother died, too?

Yes, when I was 12. She had a heart attack. I’m forming a foundation called Real Estate Has a Heart [for the American Heart Association]. I feel like it’s payback time for Mommy.

How were you impacted by having both your parents die at a young age?

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Not only wanting to survive, but always trying to find my way.

Elliman CEO Dottie Herman also lost her mother at a young age. Do you have a bond because of that?

We had a bond from day one. When I met her, in five minutes we were practically in tears. I came [to Elliman] because of Dottie. I felt she understood me personally and that’s not easy to do, because [I] don’t let that many people in, especially in this business. They see the façade and it’s very difficult because when you negotiate for a living as I do, you don’t want to appear vulnerable. I’m not letting those guys see me cry.

Did you ever consider having kids?

No. I never really wanted to have children. That might have been a result of my childhood, because I lost my parents and maybe I was afraid that either I wouldn’t be around, or I wouldn’t be the right mother.

Do you have other family?

No, I have no family left; I am truly an orphan. My last family was killed in a plane crash about 10 years ago, my aunt and uncle. Terrible.

How have you coped with all this tragedy?

I think the key is not to dwell on it. You just have to go with it and not think, “Oh me, the victim, look what happened to me.” Besides, if I cry a lot, I’ll get lines around my eyes and then I’ll have to go and do Botox and surgery like everyone else. And that won’t work because I’m afraid of needles.

So you’ve never gotten anything done?

No. Probably should, but not yet.

What has been the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in your career?

At Garrick-Aug [in the 1980s], being the only woman at the top. All of the partners and the senior-level executives were men. They all were very tough on me. I always felt that I had to keep proving myself.

Why do you think you’ve been the target of so much criticism over the years?

They like to [say] all these things: “No, she didn’t do that”; “Oh, she’s only big in her own mind.” I think if we had to take the plain answer, we could say it’s jealousy.

How do you de-stress?

I’m a lousy tennis player, but I still play. I really love the arts — going to the ballet, going to the opera.

What about shopping?

All the time. This is why I’m in the business: My accountant said we’re going to turn a habit into a career. Bergdorf and Neiman and all the boutiques could tell you. American Express could tell you. They love me a lot. And not just New York. I walk into stores in Miami or Las Vegas. I’ll find a pair of shoes or something, and I’ll give them my credit card. And they’ll say, “Are you the real estate lady from New York?” I want to die!

Do you think you do too much press?

I know some people think it’s overexposure, but I think the deals really drive the press. You make a deal with a new designer coming into New York, everybody cares, everybody wants to know about it. I’ve always publicized the stores. … I know some people say, “Oh, she gets all the press — she chases them.”

What is something that people don’t know about you?

That I’m very sensitive. People don’t know that. They think I’m tough, hard as nails, ruthless. Ruthless, can you believe that?