By Holly Dutton
New Yorker, Fabienne Lecole, isn’t swayed by her friends when visiting her native Paris when they tell her she should stay.
“I tell them, ‘never’,” said Lecole. “There’s so much you can do here and it’s so diverse. I’m never bored. There’s no other place you can say that about in the world.”
Lecole, a warm, enthusiastic and disarming associate broker with Corcoran, came to the United States 24 years ago and has never looked back.
She grew up partly in Toulouse and Paris, and attended law school before coming to the U.S., but was certain her calling wasn’t in law.
“I had no passion for being an attorney and I always had a dream which was to come to this country,” she said.
She first landed in southern California, where she had friends.
After “playing” for a year, she came up with an idea to open a gourmet food importing business.
“Twenty years ago, it was not like today where you can go to Dean and Deluca and find gourmet food,” she said. “I was one of the pioneers to import things like Dijon mustard, vinegar, mini toast, mushrooms and some frozen items.”
Lecole spent six months in France meeting producers and farmers to supply her business and, soon after, it took off, taking her all around North America promoting her business.
It was while she was in New York attending a food show that fate struck.
“I fell in love with the city and my husband, and decided to stay in New York,” she said.
Lecole married a Frenchman she met in Manhattan, and had three sons. The family recently moved to a townhouse in Harlem.
Never content to stay in one neighborhood for too long, Lecole has lived all over town, from the West Village to the Upper East Side to Brooklyn Heights.
“I’ve moved seven or eight times since coming to live in New York,” she said. “I’m very familiar with the city.”
Lecole took a break from her food business after having her second child, and soon realized she didn’t want to continue the traveling her business required, and set out to find a new passion.
“I always liked design, I always liked architecture and I’ve always been a good salesperson so I said, ‘I’m going to try to be a real estate broker’.”
She interviewed “everywhere” but eventually chose Corcoran.
“It had all the ingredients for me to be happy in the job,” she said. “I’ve been with Corcoran for 12 years. I love it.”
Her very first week on the job came during one of the city’s darkest moments.
“It was September 11,ˮ Lecole recalled. “The office was quiet as can be. I was thinking, ‘What an odd time to jump into real estate’. I didn’t know what to expect, no one knew what to expect.”
For the next three months, the market was virtually dormant. However, that quiet period lent Lecole the opportunity to gather clientele, do mailings, outreach and networking.
“Right after those three months, the market just picked up,” she said. “I’ve always been a very hardworking person and I’ve never let down time get me, I just go and get business. I’ve been busy ever since.”
Even during the recession of late 2008 and early 2009, Lecole stayed determined and did business.
“That was the first time for me to see the city being sad,” she said. “So many people were losing their jobs, including my husband, and there were so many doubts in the minds of buyers. The city is so resilient though, and it bounced back.”
In 2009, Lecole was named Broker of the Year at her Carnegie Hill office. It was an achievement she repeated in in 2012.
“I’ve never really had a down year,” she said. “Since I’ve worked, I’ve been only upward, despite a lot of worries. I’ve been very fortunate.”
As a French native, she can empathize with foreigners moving to New York City — and can help make the transition as easy as possible.
“I get it,” she said. “I went through it myself, so it’s easier for me to explain the process.”
Fluent in French, English and Spanish, Lecole has had many French and European clients. She knows that French clients often seek townhomes or condos they can use as a pied a terre or sublet.
“If they’re French, they want a replica of Paris in New York,” she said. “Some nationalities only want super high-end finishes and some want crown moldings and high ceilings.”
In May, Lecole represented a French buyer who purchased the childhood home of late rap legend, Notorious B.I.G. in Bed-Stuy.
An avid fan of the arts and travel, Lecole and her husband would explored one state a year every summer when their children were younger.
“I think it’s important to know outside cultures,” she said. “It helps with business as well.”
As someone who has always had a strong work ethic, Lecole never lets herself feel complacent.
“I’m never comfortable with what I have,” she said of her business. “I need to do more because, number one, that’s my passion and, number two, that’s the job I do and I have big expectations. I’m happy in what I do and that’s why I think I do it well.”