Long Island Business News

Veteran Marketer, Now Calling Her Own Shots

Working a full schedule for a large organization, with two teenagers at home, Joyce Skarka wanted out.

She wanted to continue to work as hard in real estate marketing and branding as she had for large developers such as The Beechwood Organization and Ornstein Leyton, but she wanted to pick her spots. She wanted to be there whenever her son took the football field, but her boss called the plays.

So now she’s her own boss.

“This is perfect,” Skarka said. “I have flexibility. I worked until 2 a.m., but I saw his game.”

After launching Inspired Real Estate Marketing out of her Center Moriches home, Skarka has already done the local angle of a national campaign for the Long Island Business Institute and bagged a big client in Bay Shore-based Greenview Properties. Her startup only cost a few thousand dollars, and though she’s currently working alone, she already has ideas about bringing in another person.

She’s marketing herself mainly through an extensive rolodex she filled up by years in the industry; she’s not shy about calling previous clients.

Real estate marketing and branding is the art of taking a community before it’s built, researching it thoroughly, pinpointing what’s special about it and aggressively spreading the word. Recently, Skarka toured some properties with Larry Gargano, president of Greenview Properties, to get ideas for marketing campaigns.

Gargano, who over the last 25 years has put his stamp on all sectors of Long Island, with an emphasis on Islip Town, considers Skarka’s consultation a plus. He praised her professionalism, creativity, work ethic and flexibility, especially in the period between the vision for a new development and the completed community.

“We create as we go,” Gargano noted, and Skarka gets that.

One Greenview property is under construction across from the Bay Shore train station. It’s called Chelsea Place, a 28-unit development of townhouses for sale (about $250,000 each) or rent (about $1,500 a month). The property was formally a block of blighted buildings, Gargano said, and Skarka’s campaign will emphasize Bay Shore as a community on its way back from years of neglect, poverty and slum-like conditions.

Skarka notes the booming and spruced-up Main Street just two blocks away, with new restaurants, boutiques and shops opening frequently. Her campaign will be directed at young professionals who can afford Chelsea Place and want to be where the action is.

“We’ll talk about how hip and sophisticated Bay Shore’s becoming,” she said, adding the redevelopment of Bay Shore “is the future of Long Island.”

Further west, a white, split-rail fence runs along the north side of Sunrise Highway, defining a new Greenview property that’s just broken ground. It’s tentatively called “Providence on the Park,” but Skarka is not happy with the name.

“Naming is important,” she noted. “The more people involved in the company, the longer it takes to name a community.”

One thing was certain, she told Gargano as they looked at the site: They will use the split rail fence as a “hardscape,” or an icon representing the whole community.

“And we’ll incorporate it into all of the marketing,” she said, before heading back to Greenview’s Bay Shore offices for more brainstorming.

Skarka noted that her family life has changed for the better, although there are downsides to going solo. “The first to go,” she smiled, “was $200 haircuts and Bloomingdale adventures.”