Multi-million pound property investor mum, Kristina Castellina, 37, based between Liverpool and Blackpool, is on a mission to inspire others to reach for their dreams, showcasing the message that anything is possible no matter what your start in life.
Rising from a working-class childhood, peppered with anxiety, truancy and bullying, suffering racism and growing up as the ‘outsider’… Kristina has reclaimed her place, her power and her voice in the world. She’s created huge wealth through property investment, whilst also creating stability and success for her clients, values that are close to her heart.
Kristina is celebrating having made one of her childhood dreams come true as she recently became an author, whilst accelerating her mission of making property investing more accessible, as ‘Starting from £0 – How to Invest in Property Using Other People’s Money’ stormed the Amazon charts, to become a No.1 in six categories, knocking Entrepreneur, Speaker, Investor, Author, BBC Dragon, and the host of one of Europe’s biggest podcasts… Steven Bartlett is off the top spot in the Business and Investing category.
As a mum of 2, she is determined to show her children that you can create your own reality and her book is intended to help other novices get into property investment as she has made millions from it, after changing careers from being a singer to a property investor.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I worked for over 10 years as a professional singer and performer in my initial career. Despite travelling the world and performing at venues such as MGM Grand in Vegas and singing alongside the likes of Bonnie Tyler and other celebrities, as I started to think about having a family, I was desperate to provide them with more stability and I wanted more freedom and lifestyle choices. After much thought, I retrained to take a different path and become a property investor.
It started with an investment in training. To my parent’s horror, I invested my life savings of nearly £20K into property training, but within a year I had completed two houses and I haven’t looked back since. Since 2014, I have purchased over 30 properties, some to flip and mostly to keep. I started without any capital, but I was creative in the way I did my property deals and used different property strategies. I put everything I had into this transition from performer to entrepreneur. I worked extremely hard whilst I initially built the portfolio, viewing houses by day and singing by night.
I have since built an impressive multi-million-pound property portfolio and I’m so excited to be living the life I want and encouraging others, particularly mothers, to step out and do the same.
This year, my book became number one in the Personal Finance category, overtaking a book that helped change my own path – ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ by Author, Robert Kiyosaki. I also overtook BBC Strictly Come Dancing Judge, Shirley Ballas in the Movers and Shakers category, which is apt as I am on a mission to shake up the industry, which I feel is often very daunting and intimidating… I want to make property investing as accessible as possible to help ‘normal people’ build some financial security. I feel a responsibility to share the knowledge I have gained over the last nine years, after investing my life savings into learning the ropes myself.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
To a degree I did, but as an entrepreneur things change and also having a family changed my goals and what I wanted to create. I had a plan but it evolved over time.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
As a kid, I didn’t know I was adopted, I lived a regular life growing up in Birmingham and Cannock Chase until I was about 10 when we moved up to this tiny little village in the Scottish Highlands. Up until that point, I was a pretty normal little girl, but I was badly bullied in the local school because I was different. I had a Brummie accent and I’m half-Indian, so I didn’t fit in. The people and kids in the small village just weren’t used to that, and I was bullied to the point where I just wouldn’t go to school. I ended up travelling into Inverness 35 miles away just to go somewhere where people were a bit more open-minded.
From about 13, I became very independent to escape trauma – even coming back to the village after school made me feel sick, which really knocked my confidence. Losing myself in music became an escape; I’d listen to it on the bus and it was like therapy, resonating with the lyrics. Then, just as I started to fit in, we moved again, near to Blackpool – but, this is when I fell in love with dancing, acting and performing and this was as they say ‘the making of me!’
At 19 years old, I started auditioning for parts in London, landing my first job as a singer and dancer on a P&O cruise ship. I loved it, but I’d had it drilled into me that it was never enough. I wish I could go back and tell myself to chill out, because I was constantly thinking about the next job or a better show, always chasing and never happy. I threw myself headlong into the world of entertainment, working jobs as variegated as Preston Panto and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas…
But, the curse of the industry is that it’s a ticking time bomb, especially if you want a family.
I gradually left it, knowing the lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. I started reading about passive income and a lot of it was about property, which was something I thought rich people did, not singers. But I loved the idea of it.
After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, I went to one of his free seminars in Leeds, which was about buying property and being creative with deals, I was 26 and had never bought a house, so I took it all as gospel and decided to sign up for the course. I invested my life savings – which was 18k at the time and jumped into learning all of the different strategies and ways to make money in property.
My mum and dad hit the roof! They thought I’d been scammed and that I was a lunatic, but I had this gut instinct. I was hungry to create wealth and I wasn’t afraid of hard work, although I’m grey now compared to when I started!
I had a difficult childhood and teenage years, but I really want to thank my mum and dad who have never stopped loving and giving and trying to do the right thing for me. My mum has always been my biggest cheerleader and has taken huge leaps of faith in me; so I then had the courage to do the same.
It doesn’t matter where you start but it’s where you decide to end up that counts. Changing my life for the better, I am passionate about also having a positive impact on communities wherever I go.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I’d say either my book going to be number one or my Blackpool project ‘Empress Hall’ which is hugely special and a real highlight for all involved. For me it was a true passion project, very much indulging my creative showbiz side. The building, which can sleep 20 people, is a 178 sq metre one-of-a-kind building in the North West, and a renovation project that was inspired by lockdown and driven by my own desire for connection. The space has been created to entertain and relax, providing a little escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. There’s a cinema room with a popcorn and candy trolley, games room with pool table, air hockey, ping pong table, football table, old school arcade machines, a music room with bar, jukebox and karaoke machine and a huge dining table and social area where guests can sit and eat together. Positive quotes are displayed all throughout the house and the décor is quirky and unique.
I harnessed my passion for creating beautiful spaces to develop this property into a party and retreat ‘celebration house’ — one that will help connect people and encourage celebration of life as groups of friends, entrepreneurs, or colleagues come together to take time out of their busy lives.
The creative interior design and playful style are already attracting the eyes of film location bookers, celebrity photographers and local stars themselves. The house has amazing energy and this whole project lights me up and everyone who walks through the door says the same.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I think it is my enthusiasm and relationships above all else. My naturally bubbly and high-energy personality gets me a long way, and the rest of course is passion and hard work. An example of this is being called upon and asked to be a public speaker all over the world, for a huge company to train others how to invest in property. I’m a true believer in being yourself, warts and all. People can really bond and trust in you when they know who you really are, so I think authenticity is definitely a bit part of my business and what makes me stand out.
I think speaking honestly and having trust is key. Whenever I am with my team, I show up with my energy and I get them excited with my passion and drive. If you have big goals, it will excite the people around you and they are more likely to get on board. I always treat everyone in my team with a lot of respect, but at the same time, I expect that same respect back.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I think having a mentor is a game-changer. It helped me enormously. I would often talk myself out of really good property deals, and it was only when I got a mentor, that I gained a lot of momentum and confidence. I feel it’s a huge honour to now be able to offer that same support to my mentees.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
To embrace my personality and stop caring so much about what people think. I had so many insecurities growing up and it’s only through age that these have become less and less.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next challenge is to acquire a business in the property space, as well as help my mentees achieve their goals and create more financial security for themselves and their families. I also have an office-to-residential conversion completed in a few weeks, so there’s lots to keep me busy with.
Read more about our inspirational women here.