Francis Howell graduate hosts new HGTV show

Posted on 12/13/2021
Lauren Risley HGTV

“I feel really blessed. It still doesn’t feel real,” said St. Charles County native Lauren Risley, host of the new HGTV show, Call the Closer. She spoke these words nearly 20 years after graduating from Francis Howell Central High School (FHC). At the time, she wasn’t sure exactly where life would take her. She never dreamed it would be this far.

Her days at Central Elementary, Saeger Middle and FHC helped her realize her passion for learning. She was always interested in business, but it wasn’t until the last year of college that she knew the path she would follow.

“One day I just decide I’m just going to try this out. I followed my heart and went into real estate,” said Risley.

A good friend was rehabbing a house and he showed Risley how to cut and lay tile. He showed her how to renovate houses, and she decided to start flipping them for profit. She bought her first home at age 19.

That first year she went door-to-door asking strangers if they were looking to buy, sell or invest in real estate. Her business, Lauren Risley Realty, grew and so did the housing market.

One day, the real estate and renovation pro received an unexpected call from Coolfire Studios Production. The man on the other end of the phone said he saw some of the YouTube videos she had posted to promote her business.

“Steve Luebbert, our executive producer, asked if I ever thought about being on TV,” Risley said laughing. “I quickly told him no way. Not interested.”

Luebbert told her if she agreed to shoot with St. Louis-based production company, Coolfire Studios, and the TV networks didn’t love it then the company would give her the rights to the videos. So, Risley agreed and they started filming.

What happened next changed Risley’s life.

“HGTV was interested. Steve at Coolfire pitched it to them and they loved the concept. This is all really, truly a dream come true. Never in a million years did I want that or expect it to happen. It’s been one of the greatest blessings in my life.”

Risley never could have dreamed she would become the star of HGTV’s Call the Closer, an eight-episode series.

The show centers on helping hopeful buyers find their dream homes. Risley reminds buyers of a home's potential by introducing them to renovation ideas, ultimately helping them close the deal.

The workload is demanding for the 37-year-old entrepreneur, as she films and keeps her real estate agency growing. Risley has been filming 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, since March. But the 2002 Francis Howell Central graduate said once you fall in love with what you do, work-life balance isn’t nearly as important.

“The people who are happiest in life are the people who love their jobs. You spend more time doing your job than you do with your family,” said Risley. “If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Risley said while she loves her career, it isn’t always easy keeping a business running while filming a TV show. She says hosting a show requires her to work long days, evenings and weekends. But the new adventure is exciting and challenging her to grow.

“I love it. It’s so much fun. You get to meet so many different people and build so many different friendships. Every transaction is totally different so you’re always learning something new and figuring out a new way to problem solve.”

Risley says negotiating, problem-solving and creative thinking all go into creating a successful real estate company. Networking might be the most important piece of the puzzle.

“In the real estate world, it’s all about making relationships. Don’t take your interactions with people for granted. Whether it’s your school teachers or classmates. Really live for that moment.”

Through networking, her business is continuing to grow and she now employs four agents. The St. Charles native said no matter how successful her business becomes, the St. Louis-area will always be home.

“It has so much to offer. The people are so kind. So friendly,” said Risley.

All of the homes featured in Call the Closer are located in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The HGTV series premiered Nov. 1. You can learn more about Risley’s business here.


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