Your Neighbor: Meet Jessica Zombek Ferris

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

When you live in 15 different places before you finally declare yourself “home,” you learn very quickly how to adapt to change.

Jessica Zombek Ferris spent much of her life moving due to her father’s career as an air traffic controller.

“Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I’m thankful for the learning experience I got from having to adjust quickly as a child,” Ferris said. “It would serve me well in later in life, and I realize that now.”

The oldest of two siblings, Ferris spent her childhood riding horses with her mom and sister. Ferris also participated in track and cheerleading in school.

“Developing friendships was important to me,” Ferris said. “I remember really enjoying hanging out at my friend’s homes, going to the movie theater, and spending time with people I shared common interests with.”

Being close to her family but still wanting to test her wings with freedom, Ferris chose to attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“At that time, my parents lived in Apex, and it seemed close but not too far for me to come to visit,” Ferris said. “I chose to double major in both English and women’s and gender studies.”

Aside from finding a school that provided interesting academic options, Ferris reconnected with someone she first met when she was 16.

“I was walking on campus one day, and I heard my last name called out,” Ferris said. “My maiden name is Zombek, so as soon as I heard it, I was curious to see who I was running into. It was my future husband, Mark, who I had known somewhat since I was a teenager.

“During those times, I had always been dating someone, so the timing wasn’t quite right. I was surprised that I didn’t realize he was going to the same college then too. It was February 2000, and we finally realized we couldn’t stop running into each other. We started dating after that day and have been together ever since.”

After graduating from college, the determined Ferris decided to spend her summer at the Denver Publishing Institute in Denver, Colorado.

“At that time, I had strongly considered going into publishing,” Ferris said. “The program exposed me to the ever-changing world of book publishing and advertising.”

After completing the graduate-level workshops and required sessions, Ferris had gained knowledge from networking with distinguished publishing professionals.

“I moved to Charlotte and got my first real job outside of working at my parents’ Jersey Mike’s when I was in high school,” Ferris said. “I worked at an advertising agency that was very fast-paced and cutthroat.”

Ferris gained a lot of valuable working knowledge while working in the ad agency.

“It was a blast, but you burned out pretty quickly. There were many nights I had to stay up late and work around the clock at the office,” said Ferris, who had exposure to marketing, editing and preparing pitches to potential clients. “I learned very quickly that I loved the creative side.”

After three years at the ad agency, Ferris moved to South Carolina while Mark finished graduate school.

“I began working for a law firm in their marketing department,” Ferris said. “When Mark got a job in the Winston-Salem area, the law firm still allowed me to work remotely when I moved with him. That was the first time I had ever really heard much about working from home, and it was pretty progressive at that time.

“When we were looking at where to buy a house in this area, I remember our Realtor at the time really encouraged me to consider real estate as an occupation myself. I didn’t think much about it, but after some persistent conversations, I decided to give it some real thought. I also learned during that time my mom had also done real estate when my sister and I were very young before deciding to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom.”

Ferris began to get the necessary training and certifications to become a Realtor.

“I picked the absolute best time to start a career in real estate,” Ferris said. “Both my husband and I knew no one in the area. It was during a market crash. Everything was in foreclosure, and no one wanted to buy a house. However, it taught me the real meaning of grit and determination, and I’m truly grateful for that working knowledge. It taught me how to handle an ever-evolving market where the only constant is change. I learned that you just make the necessary changes to rise above the noises and distraction. It is possible.”

While working to establish her own realty group, Ferris also became a mother. Son, Isaac, 13, Eli, 11, and Avery Kate, 10, gave her a new purpose for wanting to work hard and continue to build their future as an entrepreneur.

“I remember for a while, I had three kids in diapers,” Ferris said. “I would nurse the kids in between appointments and work when they were taking naps or during nighttime. I have loved being a mom so much, and having a big family was something that I always hoped for.

“It’s definitely hard to juggle sometimes, but it’s worth it. I remember when I had grown enough in my business that I was able to have someone come help me with the kids for a couple of hours each day, and it really helped a lot to allow me to spend quality time with them and get my work done.”

As Ferris’ children continue to get older and develop their own interests and activities, she loves that she’s able to take part in them and continue to grow her business.

“I love having flexibility in my work,” Ferris said. “I love that I’m able to do something I’m passionate about doing. Because family is so important to me, I enjoy that I get to have relationships in my work that become like family.

“There have been so many times my clients will call me first before they even call their family to tell me about life events that will affect their needing to buy or sell homes. I always wish it’s something positive like the birth of a child, marriage, a promotion, but oftentimes, it’s not; it can be because of divorce or a death in their family. I always want to be there for them as an extension of their own family. I work with people during some of their most important moments in life, and I don’t take that for granted.”

Ferris also appreciates that just as she experienced during her childhood, that change is continuing both as her role as a mom and in her business at Jessica Ferris Realty at Keller Williams.

“So many agents came into this business when the market was hot,” Ferris said. “Things are definitely shifting. For agents that haven’t been trained, I think it will be a challenge to maintain the same pace from the past couple of years. I’m continuously looking to grow with people who share my same values to dream big and create lives worth living. I’d love to encourage others who want to make a difference in our community who also have the same work ethic, grit and determination to reach out. This year, I will be putting a lot of focus on growth. I have talked to many people who just aren’t happy in their career and want to make a change. I am looking forward to helping those people take that leap of faith they’ve been scared to make,” explains Ferris.

Aside from developing lifelong relationships with her clients, Ferris also gives back in other ways.

“I give a portion of my commission to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS) because I believe it is important to do your part in helping the community where your passion is,” Ferris said. “For me, that is LLS, and in 2023, we have raised about $15,000 to benefit the cause. That’s something I will be doing again in 2024.

“At the end of the day, it’s fun to work hard because it also allows you to dream big, live a life worth living, and make a difference by showing others how much you truly care about them.”

Ferris added, “As Gary Keller says, ‘Money is good for the good it can do.’ I want those values, hopes and dreams to be shared with my kids, too.”