Monika Tu reclines in the plush seat of a personal jet ferrying her and some well-heeled customers to Melbourne for each day at the races.
Dressed to the nines with a designer handbag and jewelry the price of a tiny car, the actual estate super-agent is savouring the spoils of success – but nonetheless on the job.
‘I always take a few people with me so they can experience luxury in Australia, and help my company through promotion,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I wish I could get it done more often, but I thought we work hard, we deserve it.’
Ms Tu, 57, caters very nearly exclusively to mega-rich Chinese high-rollers snapping up top-priced homes in Australia’s most exclusive suburbs.
Monika Tu, 57, requires a gaggle of clients to Melbourne for a day at the races – still on the job as she impresses the wealthy buyers and well-connected friends
Ms Tu caters very nearly exclusively to mega-rich Chinese high-rollers snapping up top-priced homes in Australia’s most exclusive suburbs
Her firm Black Diamondz sells significantly more than $200 million worth of property yearly and cleared about $85 million in just 3 months this year.
But the BMW-driving fashionista wasn’t always sipping Penfolds, strutting red carpets in designer clothes, and opening art exhibitions.
Ms Tu immigrated to Australia from Shenzhen in China in 1988 as just one of a large number of international students looking for a better education.
She spoke almost no English and worked as many hours as she could as a waitress and trying to sell cosmetics while studying international trade at RMIT.
‘People look at me now and think ‘oh my god, you’re a rock star’… you have all the luxury, bling blings, diamonds and stuff, driving the luxury cars. But where I came from was [different],’ she told ABC series Almost Australian earlier in 2010.
She worked any job that will take her, seven days a week, even washing dishes for 12 hours straight.
After graduating in 1992 she moved to Sydney and began working at a pc shop in Paddy’s Markets selling floppy disks, CDs, and electronics.
Ms Tu shows of her pile of costly Christmas gifts last year including fragrances and high-end booze from satisfied clients
Ms Tu with her husband Jad, 20 years her junior, with whom she started the actual estate business in 2009
Ms Tu is pictured in the 1990s while she was working seven days per week at building Laser from a tiny shop to an international firm
Over the next 15 years she built the stall and its particular corner shop in Surry Hills in to multinational electronics firm Laser Corporation.
The company’s products are actually sold in Harvey Norman, Target, Big W, Aldi, and JB-HiFi and has operations in New Zealand, Hong Kong, and China.
‘You always need to have a vision, I didn’t want to work in market for the others of my entire life,’ she said.
Ms Tu briefly retired in 2007 to take it easy with her young daughter, but got the bleed or itch to start another company two years later.
Black Diamondz was originally founded to support Chinese immigrants as they adjusted to life in Australia – support Ms Tu didn’t have when she arrived.
But immediately after she started, a friend connected her to a rich Chinese buyer looking to purchase high-end real estate in Australia.
Ms Tu scoured listings for the best home and offered to split the commission with the agent who advertised it. They sold it for $13.5 million.
The enormous windfall helped her build the business from an employee of two into the significantly more than 35 employees it has today, reaching $120 million annual sales by 2014.
Mu Tu appeals specifically to ultra-rich buyers who can afford a $5 million significant investor visa that allows them to buy properties often forbidden to foreigners.
The BMW-driving fashionista wasn’t always sipping Penfolds, strutting red carpets in designer clothes, and opening art exhibitions – she arrived in Australia as a broke student in 1988
Her firm Black Diamondz sells more than $200 million worth of property a year and cleared about $85 million in just three months this year
Mu Tu appeals specifically to ultra-rich buyers who can afford a $5 million significant investor visa that allows them to buy properties often forbidden to foreigners
Many of these show up throughout China’s annual ‘Golden Week’ holiday, a bonanza for real luxury estate with rich buyers arriving by the planeload.
Ms Tu tailors her open houses specifically to Chinese high-roller taste, including making certain the feng shui is perfect – something Western sellers often miss.
The company’s success relies off her not just flogging eight-figure properties, but helping clients find cars, boats, and schools for their young ones.
‘A real estate company just sells you a residence, it’s very transactional, nevertheless they can get so much extra from me, we’re a one stop shop,’ she said.
‘New migrants need someone they could trust, who understands them and where they are coming from and help them make a lot of mistakes.
‘The first question I ask is approximately their life style. From that I can virtually identify what area they need to buy in, what school is suitable because of their kids, what coat they must be wearing at a barbeque, where they need to go for cocktails, what cocktail dress they need to wear.
‘They can ask me and not feel embarrassed. They don’t have even to buy anything, frequently I just give advice.’
Trust also pays dividends for her business – 80 per cent of her customers come from referrals and the trust is already built.
Clients are regularly treated to fancy soirees to that they are ferried in a BMW, Bentley, or Maserati to rub shoulders with political and business elite.
These impressive bashes have even roped in the Sydney Dance Company, string orchestras and renowned painters to entertain hundreds of guests.
Ms Tu’s customers are able to network, and the high-end brands involved can promote their wares to an area full of wealthy people with lavish tastes.
This enormous nine-bedroom, nine-bathroom mansion on Chilton Parade in Warrawee, on Sydney’s upper north shore, sold for $15 million in February
Not a long way away, this six-bedroom, four-bathroom house in Pymble sold for $6.5 million last June
This penthouse in St Leonards sold for so much last month that its listing won’t even give a figure
During the day Ms Tu uses her connections to buy them private tours of free galleries, meetings with top executives, and whatever else they need.
Ms Tu even takes clients to church with her on Sunday to introduce them to other members of the Chinese-Australian community.
But she says what well-heeled Chinese want a lot more than bling is the best education for their young ones at Australia’s top schools.
Ms Tu is herself well educated, speaking English, German, French, Mandarin, and Cantonese, but still wishes she had the chance to study more.
Another branch of the firm then helps the family of clients find lucrative jobs at top law firms or high-end retailers like Louis Vuitton.
To make all of this work, Ms Tu is really a self-confessed workaholic who admits she ‘doesn’t have a life’ as even her passions like art are weaponised to help her job.
‘I do not smoke. I don’t drink. I can’t even remember the final drink I had. When I go back home, I just sleep, then get fully up and get going again,’ she told In the Black magazine.
Ms Tu started as a waitress at university and a shop worker in Paddy’s Markets – now she rubs shoulders with the kind of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull
Ms Tu said she got three or four invitations to events every night and already works as a promoter for BMW and Sydney’s Museum of Modern Art
Ms Tu tailors her open houses specifically to Chinese high-roller taste, including making certain the feng shui is ideal – something Western sellers usually miss
‘I’ve come here with an intention. I do not really have downtime. I think sleeping is wasting time. There’s so much I can do, and I’m 55, therefore i don’t have long left.’
Ms Tu told Daily Mail Australia she couldn’t imagine her life every other way, and that any day where she does not do something of use is wasted.
‘I could retire today nonetheless it would be a waste of time. I think I am going to never retire, I’ll work until I die,’ she said.
‘If I have each day off I don’t know very well what to do with myself.
‘I have small daily goals to maximise my production, so I don’t waste time. I would like to lead my community by exemplory instance of being hardworking and successful.
‘I work seven days per week, this job is my entire life. I don’t feel tired, I love what I do.’
Ms Tu’s daughter is currently 21 and just graduated from Bond University on the Gold Coast, so she devotes all her time to her business.
Though she struggled early on to break into a male-dominated industry, she believes women are better salespeople than men, particularly in real estate,
She claims this is because they truly are more patient, honest, intuitive and nurturing, and lack the giant egos of the male competitors.
Ms Tu’s other secret weapon is her husband Jad, who she said marrying was the most effective decision she ever made.
‘If you’ve been through a few marriages like I have, and lost trust along the way, it is extremely important to get it right back. He did that for me personally,’ she told CEO Magazine.
Ms Tu is a huge art collector, some of which hangs on her behalf office walls, and even got this portrait of herself painted
Ms Tu’s other secret weapon is her husband Jad, who she said marrying was the most effective decision she ever made
‘Plus, he’s 20 years my junior and he’s very good-looking. That gave me a lot of confidence.’
As a businesswoman and pillar of the Chinese community, she is also in huge demand for speaking engagements.
Ms Tu said she got three or four invitations to events every night and already works as a promoter for BMW and Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
She’s well-suited to both roles as a huge art collector, a few of which hangs on her office walls, and poses with many high-end cars.
On Friday she took a Chinese movie star to the MCA to organise an auction of her calligraphy, that may raise money for the MCA’s creative learning program.
She owns countless art pieces, worth huge amount of money, and has so many she’s got nowhere near enough places to hang them.
Last year she announced she was embarking on a side career as a keynote speaker as she had ‘always believed in the power of words’.
‘It’s the private stories we share that will have probably the most impact, make people think, challenge themselves and evolve,’ she said.
Ms Tu with her husband and business partner in their World Square office in Sydney
Ms Tu’s daughter is currently 21 and just graduated from Bond University on the Gold Coast, so she devotes all her time to her business
Ms Tu is performing bumper business during the coronavirus pandemic, jumping 25 percent from the initial few months of the year.
Half of the sales, all domiciles costing $7.25 million to $19.5 million, were to Chinese immigrants already in Australia, although some are stashing their millions in property before the yuan is hit by inflation.
But even as industry waxes and wanes and tensions between Canberra and Beijing mount, Ms Tu is confident she is in it for the longterm.
‘The Chinese won’t stop buying property. It would be like Australians stopping eating Vegemite,’ she said.