• Kara Bolton

    Kara Bolton

    President & CEO, Kara Bolton Homes, Inc.

    Kara Bolton became a single mom at 16 years old. She worked hard to overcome any hurdles that came her way to provide for her family and navigated her small construction company through the worst housing crisis in history. Her persistence and unwillingness to give up in the face of adversity are some of the many reasons Bolton is the fierce woman she is today. Along with being president and owner of Kara Bolton Homes, Inc., Bolton served as president of Builders Association of North Central Florida in 2013.

    “Every woman has different goals, but big rewards come with taking big risks,” said Bolton. “So, I would advise young women who want big rewards to get educated and learn as much as they can to evaluate and respond to risk, it’s like putting on safety gear for the bad stuff that will happen. Take the jump, it’s worth the fall.”

    What does it mean to be Fierce?

    To be fierce means to be unwilling to give up, especially in the face of adversity.

    What does success, achievement and accomplishment mean to you?

    Success and achievement means opening doors and being recognized for my work ethic. Accomplishment is being compensated for a job well done in exchange for delivering a product of lasting value.

    What motivates you in the morning?

    Most of the time, I am motivated by the prospect of helping others, because I simply find joy in it. However, sometimes the fear of failure motivates me too. I do not like disappointing others.

    What or who is inspiring you right now? Why?

    My late friend, Gloria Fletcher, continues to inspire me. She took time out of her busy law practice to have breakfast with me and ask me how I was doing. There was no agenda, deal making, sales pitch, expectations or any other purpose to get together other than to talk. No one has ever done that for me. Gloria was the fiercest, most well-respected and professional woman I knew, and she was passionate about her work and family. She could do it all.

    What was the best decision you’ve made? What’s the worst?

    The best decision I ever made was to raise my daughter, Cheyenne, while I was 16 and single. It was also the most selfish and difficult decision. She had to grow up without knowing her real father, and I had to work a million times harder to support our little family.

    What has been your biggest obstacle and how have you overcome it?

    I am still working on my biggest obstacle, and I don’t expect to ever overcome it. However, I am learning how to work with it. I have overcome some pretty big obstacles though, like the housing crash that affected greater Gainesville from 2008 to 2013. I overcame it by controlling spending, limiting losses, working long hours, managing cash flow and wearing many of the hats needed to design, fund, construct and sell new homes.

    How do you address negativity in your life and in business?

    Well, I get fired up. I am just too tenacious and driven to let negativity, pessimism, bias and turmoil get in the way of achieving my goals. I have a little expression that I mutter to myself. It goes, “F you. Watch me.” Yes, I have a potty-mouth – like most construction workers do.

    Is there a particular instance or occurrence that you credit for building your confidence and self-esteem?

    Yes, taking 100% responsibility for all of my decisions from the time I was very young has built up my confidence and self-esteem. This isn’t my daddy’s construction company; it never has been (my father was a builder). There’s no one to bail me out if I blow it or if the market collapses. Every decision and activity has risk, and I have to own my mistakes with cost overruns, production delays and lost opportunities. Consequently, I have made enough good decisions and taken enough of the safer risks to still build beautiful new homes today.

    How do you empower other women?

    I empower other women by showing them that it doesn’t matter what gender you are. What matters is doing your job well and standing by your work. Men help me with my job too, so I also empower men.

    What change do you want to see in your industry?

    For many years, I served to advocate for affordable housing by lessening governmental restrictions imposed on new developments that resulted in too few projects being built, low supply coupled with high impact fees, driven-up costs and limited supply of affordable housing for working families, veterans and retirees. I am proud to build the most affordable new homes in the Newberry/Jonesville Area.

    Do you have any advice for young women as they try to achieve their goals?

    Every woman has different goals, but big rewards come with taking big risks. So, I would advise young women who want big rewards to become educated and learn as much as they can to evaluate and respond to risk. It’s like putting on safety gear for the bad stuff that will happen. Take the jump, it’s worth the fall.

    What do you want to be remembered for?

    I want to be remembered as a good wife and mother to my family. I also want to be remembered as a woman of many talents – to be the builder that could sew her own draperies for her Parade Homes or sew her own gown to wear to the Builder Banquet. I hope I can pass down this knowledge to others.

    How do you defy the current stereotypes, stigmas and double standards that women have today?

    I write my own rules, define my own limits and choose my own opportunities. I don’t take on work that interferes with my family life. I am not special or entitled either. I just work hard.