When ZZ Top sang about how girls love a sharp-dressed man, the band included black ties, not pink ones, on its list of alluring accessories.
But when Realtor Jay Hudson recently purchased seven spanking new pink ties, no one told him about his fashion faux paux.
No one stopped him when he bought several matching shirts, either. Perhaps they sensed there was a reason for his bold purchase.
As Hudson prepares to host an open house at a listing in the Reunion community in East Brainerd, he checks himself in a mirror to make sure he’s presentable.
Hudson probably wouldn’t qualify for a ZZ Top video since he’s in excellent shape. Instead of going for a full-on pink assault, he’s tempered his outfit with a crisp navy blazer and matching slacks.
While this makes the pink stand out like a Kardashian at Walmart, it’s part of Hudson’s strategy until the end of October to start a conversation about a topic close to his heart: breast cancer.
Hudson’s mother, Lois Ann Hudson, died of the disease when he was 16.
So, when the Chattanooga chapter of the American Cancer Society invited him to participate in its Real Men Wear Pink fundraising campaign, Hudson said yes.
“Not many men wear pink, so it’s a way for me to not just say I’m raising money for breast cancer research but to show it,” he says.
“It opens the door to a conversation about what I’m doing and how someone can help.”
As a Realtor who enjoys networking, Hudson engages with people every day, whether he’s meeting with a returning client or coaching first-time home buyers.
“I’m hardly ever behind a desk,” he says. “I like getting out in the community and meeting people.”
Hudson is the head of Jay Hudson Homes, a full-service real estate team operating out of Keller Williams Realty Chattanooga.
His crew, which includes executive assistant Brandie Driscoll, director of marketing Cortney Hewitt and buyer’s agents Ginger Bosco and Sean Pierce, helps to make sure his plate stays full.
Hudson formed his team when his real estate business started to outgrow him.
“I was doing my best to keep up with everything when I realized I was spending more time doing paperwork than I was getting out and selling,” he recalls.
Hudson currently has nearly a dozen listings, including houses and parcels of land. His median sales price in 2017 was $333,000, which was well above the median sales price of $175,000 in the local market, according to Greater Chattanooga Realtors.
This was the result of a deliberate effort by Hudson to target higher end homes.
“When I started in real estate, I made a goal of selling houses that cost $250,000 or more,” he says.
When combined with his marketing efforts, Hudson’s focus on homes above the median price range has helped him to achieve several milestones, including reaching $10 million in sales in 2017.
Hudson’s goal for 2018 is $15 million, which he’s well on his way to meeting. “I actually believe I could exceed that number,” he says.
Hudson often aims high. This was true even early in his life when he became an Eagle Scout. After Hudson mentions this accomplishment, he pauses to suppress a sudden swell of emotion.
“My mom was with me when I received my Eagle Scout badge,” he says after several seconds. “She was sick at the time, but she was one of the reasons I earned it.”
Between “rabbit raising, reptile collecting, camping and canoeing,” and many other activities, Hudson earned 36 merit badges while growing up in Orlando – and his parents were with him every step of the way.
In his early twenties, Hudson entered the hospitality industry and began a career that lasted 18 years. The journey took him from the front desk of a hotel in Williamsburg, Virginia, to serving as the national sales manager for The Read House Hotel in Chattanooga, with a five-year stop at the Peabody in Memphis along the way.
Hudson earned his business management degree at the University of Phoenix Online while serving as the national sales manager of the Peabody – a job that required extensive travel. “I would often be up at 10 p.m. writing papers for school,” he says.
Because of his job, Hudson had seen a lot of the U.S., but nothing struck a chord in him like Chattanooga.
When he and wife Kari Hudson drove through the city during a road trip, they agreed it would be a great place to raise a family.
Nine years later, that family includes 11-year-old Carrigan and 9-year-old Courtney. Hudson’s wife and daughters are a big part of why he switched from the hospitality industry to real estate.
“I wanted more flexibility,” he says. “I also had a friend in Florida who was in real estate, and whenever we spoke, he made it sound like the greatest job in the world.
“He was busy, but he liked what he was doing and was able to spend time with his family.”
Hudson started with Crye-Leike on Gunbarrel Road, switched to the now shuttered United Country Real Estate and then found a permanent home at Keller Williams, citing the education the company provides as the appeal.
Hudson’s wife and daughters also factor into his reasons for participating in Real Men Wear Pink.
“I remember what my mom went through,” he says of his mother’s two-year battle with breast cancer. “And I don’t want my wife or my daughters – or anyone, for that matter – to suffer in the same way.”
Hudson knows from personal experience how long the medical community has waged a fight against breast cancer.
This same perspective allows him to appreciate organizations such as the American Cancer Society and how long they have worked to make a difference in the battle to cure cancer and minimize its effects.
“If science was as advanced as it is now when my mom was alive, maybe she’d still be with me,” he says. “The effort that’s being poured into defeating breast cancer has allowed medical science to make great strides, so maybe they’ll find a way.”
Hudson hopes to raise $2,500 by the end of October. To make sure he reaches that goal, he’s putting the marketing savvy that’s helped him to succeed in real estate to work for his Real Men Wear Pink Campaign.
One idea Hudson believes will be a big success is the blind wine tasting party he’ll be hosting in October.
He’s encouraging people to visit his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JayHudsonHomes, for details.
Although Hudson lost his mother at a young age, her legacy influenced him through the years.
He describes her as driven, and a glimmer of admiration lights up his face as he recalls how she returned to school later in life to become a Licensed Practice Nurse.
In the same way, Hudson says he’s driven to do well in his profession, largely to provide for his family.
Hudson says his mother was also an excellent role model. This can be seen in the way Hudson, 48, is taking piano lessons at the same time as his 11-year-old.
“I practice as much as I can,” he smiles. “The songs are getting harder, but I’m almost to end of the first book. I’m going to get there.”
Hudson also strives to be good to everyone he meets – like his mother was.
“She was a beautiful lady who never met a stranger and cared about everyone,” he says. “She had a kind heart, and it showed.”
Hudson says multitudes attended his mother’s funeral. Today, he’s determined to help those who are working to bring about a day when there are no more early funerals for the ones diagnosed with the disease that claimed his mom.