Jennifer Zhang, 29
CEO + principal, Concrete Cashmere
Life Story: The daughter of an entrepreneur, Beijing-born Jennifer Zhang grew up in White Rock after moving to B.C. when she was 10. She had no interest in going into business with her engineer dad, who exports machinery from Europe to China. Completing an interior design diploma at the Art Institute of Vancouver in 2013, she helped grow a small design-build outfit, getting thrown into project management and sales.
But Zhang wanted to build her own company. So in 2016, having built a network of real estate industry contacts–brokers, developers and landlords–she co-founded Concrete Cashmere. The Vancouver-based design-build firm specializes in full-service tenant improvements for commercial spaces, from layout to construction to furniture. Bringing interior design and general contracting under one roof helps avoid delays and cost overruns, Zhang explains. Eleven members of her 16-member team are female: “We work really well together, and as women in a male-dominated industry, we get a lot of respect.”
Bottom Line: Concrete Cashmere, whose customers include Bosa Properties, CBRE Group, Colliers International and Westbank Corp., grew its revenue 122 percent last year, to $8 million. Before COVID-19, Zhang’s three-year plan was to double the size of the team and hit the $18-million mark. “That’s still the goal, once this is all over,” she says.
Zhang, who has made many connections in Toronto and the U.S. through her real estate broker clients, also aims to expand the business across Canada and stateside.