This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star.
For developer Steve Gupta, the launch of King Blue Condos has been a family affair. Gupta is the chief executive of Easton’s Group of Hotels, which owns 15 hotels in Eastern Canada, including 10 in the GTA.
King Blue — a two-tower, 807-unit project that Easton’s is building in partnership with Remington Group — represents Gupta’s first-ever condo development.
For help on his maiden voyage, he’s enlisted his two talented daughters, Reetu and Shelley, a dynamic duo who happen to be part of the 20- to 40-year-old demographic that Easton’s is seeking to attract to King Blue, located at King St. W. and Blue Jays Way.
As such, Gupta places great value on the input of Reetu, 29, the company’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing; and her younger sister Shelley, 26, Easton’s Executive Director of Finance.
Easton’s is a newcomer to Toronto’s condo scene, and Gupta is launching a substantial project at an uncertain time in the market. But if his daughters have any say in the matter — and they do — King Blue will be an unqualified success.
“We’re fortunate to have someone like our dad who we can go to with ideas, and also get advice from a person who’s been doing this for 30 years,” says Reetu. “He built this foundation and we’re lucky to be involved with it and take it to the next level.”
Perhaps it was inevitable that the Guptas would end up in the family business. Growing up in North York, both girls worked for their dad’s company during summer holidays. “The last day of school, my father would tell us, ‘We need your help at the office the next day,’ ” recalls Reetu, seated beside her sister at a banquette in the King Blue sales office one recent morning.
Reetu officially began working for the company in 2006 after graduating with a business degree from the University of Toronto. (She subsequently earned an MBA at the Shulich School of Business.)
Shelley, who also received a business degree from the University of Toronto, joined Easton’s shortly afterward, just in time for the creation of King Blue. “It’s destiny,” she says. “As soon as I came out of school this project came to light and it allowed me to go into it full force.”
In addition to her sales and marketing duties, Reetu is overseeing the development of the estimated 13,000 square feet of street-level retail space at King Blue, which she hopes to see filled with boutique shops, namely chic “European brands we don’t have in Toronto, or anywhere else in Canada.”
“King West is known for its restaurants and lounges,” she explains. “But I think what’s been missing is retail — and not typical retail like the bank, Shoppers Drug Mart and the LCBO — but shops that aren’t your ordinary, run of the mill.”
Reetu has a passion for fashion. She’s developed her own line of clothing, Maya, which she describes as “Indian fabrics but with westernized cuts.” She previewed the collection at a King Blue VIP event in October and is planning to launch the entire line in 2013.
If you listen to the radio, you may recognize Shelley’s voice. She provided the vocals for the King Blue Condos jingle, a variation on the Gershwin song, “I Got Rhythm.” Nailed it in one take, too, apparently. “It was supposed to be a demo track (the producers planned on auditioning several singers) but they ended up using it on the final version.”
She says she’s been singing her entire life, but was thrust into the spotlight by her sister Reetu, who pushed her to perform at a family birthday party. “It was a turning point for me,” she says. “Because I could not believe how much I loved singing for people, and it kind of started me on my path.”
The Guptas are a pretty tight-knit pair, which translates well when it comes to work. “It’s pretty amazing,” says Reetu. “I can call Shelley really late at night with a crazy idea, and it doesn’t matter what she’s doing, we’ll stop and plan everything out. And I think it’s hard to find a colleague that’s like that.
“And because we’re sisters we have a very deep understanding of each other. So when we need to defend each other we do, and when we need to set each other straight we do.”
“If we want to say something that’s maybe a little negative,” adds Shelley, “we just do it and get over it.”
“Yeah,” Reetu says with a smile. “It’s not like somebody’s going to put in a complaint with HR saying my sister’s being mean to me.”