There is an old adage that says “necessity is the mother of invention.” No one understands that more than Myrline St. Hubert, a Haitian-American entrepreneur that created a million-dollar business after losing her job and deciding to rent out her own apartment to corporate executives to pay her bills.
Now, the 43-year-old child of an immigrant can boast that in 2021 her company, NUME Homes, averaged approximately $100,000 a month in income from her short-term-rentals business, which changed her life after she was laid off just eight years ago.
St. Hubert lost her job as a contract administrator at a biomedical research institute at the end of 2014. Like many Americans, her 9 to 5 was her only source of income, so losing her job meant that in her mid-30s she could find herself homeless.
However, the Long Island native decided ruin didn’t have to be in her future. She decided to shift her life around, shave some of her daily costs and cover her bills by doing one thing: subleasing her fancy Wall Street apartment and moving in with a relative.
“At the time I was really happy, young, working, paying a mortgage, and then I lost my job,” St. Hubert remembered. “I had to pivot and figure out a way to keep my apartment.”
Originally, she put the apartment up for rent for $2,500, the running price for a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, well below the market value for an apartment in the Wall Street area.
But when an international lawyer said he was willing to pay $4,500 a month for a six-month stay, she realized there was something special in this lane that she could not ignore. That proved particularly true for her when the attorney’s company, after agreeing on the terms, issued her a check for $27,000, and an additional $4,500 check for the security deposit.
Seven years later, St. Hubert effectively mastered the rental-arbitrage business model, a process where one signs a long-term lease for a home or apartment and then relets the unit short-term at higher rates for business executives traveling for work.
According to Business Insider, the businesswoman realized there was a demand for short-term corporate housing, so she acquired more units and created a business catering to that niche selection of renters — sometimes working personally with the corporate travelers and other times negotiating with their companies to land big accounts for her holding company, Dalm LLC.
One reason why she is winning is because she knows the market and figured out that corporate housing and relocation should be the focus.
“I knew what C-suite executives like. I knew how they wanted the apartment to look. I knew exactly what they expected,” St. Hubert explained. “They traveled for business, and when they come home, they want to have a place that’s not a hotel, because people have specific dietary needs. They want the extra square footage. They’re not looking to be cooped up in a 200-square-foot room, and I could cater to that.”
Her most successful year to date, total expenses for her business ran almost $1 million last year, factoring in payroll, rent and mortgage payments, utilities and repairs. And she met those costs because of her thriving business and the ingenuity she learned from her parents, who came to this country with the hopes of a better life.
St. Hubert is in good company as a first-generation American in business. Forbes reports 20 percent of all business owners in the nation come from children of immigrants. This statistic is staggering when you consider that the demographic makes up 13 percent of the national population.
“My story is shaped by where I came from, where I am today, and where I’m headed,” St. Hubert explained. “I am the daughter of Haitian immigrants, and I was raised by a single mother. I did not grow up with a lot of money.”
She continued, “I was surrounded by a lot of love, but not a lot of money. Maybe I can say one of the things that has helped me in business is the fact that I did not grow up with money. I grew up with the lack of it. So, it’s not the scariest thing to happen to me.”