Adrian Leeds hails from America, but she can’t imagine living anywhere other than France.
“It’s a really addictive place,” says Leeds, who helps people find and purchase accommodations in Paris. “The more often you come, the more intriguing it all seems.”
Leeds and her husband visited Paris several times before they decided to live there for a year in the 1990s. When she and her husband divorced, “I couldn’t bear to leave,” she says. She was a legal resident, but she wasn’t allowed to work. “So I had to get more creative,” she says.
Her luck turned around when she accepted a volunteer job as promotion director for a large organization. “What I did was develop skills and contacts,” she says. She also rented an apartment that she later purchased. “I rented for two years, and then they told me they wanted to sell it. I spent nine months finding a way to buy it, and one of the banks did grant me a mortgage.” She purchased the property for $45,000 — and has since purchased four more, including an apartment in Nice on the Riviera in the south of France, a deal she signed last month. Today, those properties are worth millions.
Leeds wrote an article about that first purchase, and several people at International Living — which was looking for someone to open a Paris office — read the piece. The company contacted her, and she was chosen to launch the Paris branch.
Leeds spent several years working for International Living, advising clients who wanted to purchase property in Paris and helping them make the international move. Leeds also set up a series of conferences and speaking tours. In 2004, she left International Living to start her own business, the Adrian Leeds Group.
And that’s just the beginning. Leeds also started Parler Parlor French/English Conversation Group, where members from 50 different countries meet to practice speaking French and English. She wrote the first online restaurant guide to Paris, which has since evolved into Top 100 Cheap Insider Paris Restaurants. She also started a newsletter, French Property Insider. “During that time I developed eight more guides, which I sold to another publisher,” she says.
In fact, Leeds does so many different things that the concept of an elevator speech has become an inside joke. “Some people will tell you I’m a writer. There are people who say I’m a language professional because of the conversation group.” And then there’s her expertise in property. “Our clients are primarily North Americans and Australians who are interested in investing in Paris in a way the enables them to use the property they own as well as generate rental income,” she says. Leeds finds the properties, helps clients navigate the French system and also manages the properties for them.
Leeds loves everything about France. “Working in the U.S., I was bored. I’m not bored for a single minute here. Every minute is too much of a challenge,” she says.
“This place is particularly fabulous for women,” she adds. “It’s safe. You can be alone at any hour of the day and feel comfortable. There’s not a battle between men and women here. Here you can go to dinner by yourself. I do it all the time. It’s the best way to meet somebody.
“You can be old and be a woman — and be a woman. French women have more sex longer — and less plastic surgery,” she says.
Leeds’ advice to other entrepreneurial women:
Understand what Eckard Tolle calls The Power of Now. “Life exists in the present. Women need to let go of their fears and understand calculated risks — and take calculated risks. If there’s no risk, there’s no gain,” Leeds says.
Leeds knows what it’s like to be afraid. She remembers being afraid she couldn’t pay the mortgage after her divorce. Her daughter is the one who said, “That’s stupid. You’re not broke and you have yourself.”
Set your goals, Leeds advises. If you’re looking for business and it isn’t working, then obviously you have to change something. Set out on your path, and the fear goes away because you’re dealing with it.