You and your wife are proud business owners of Red Tails Realty Group. Was it a calling from God to establish a family business?
We have always been entrepreneurial-minded, so we thought it was a great idea. We love real estate, and we saw a genuine need and an opportunity for the brokerage. We do see it as God’s calling for us. We get to educate, help, inform, and in many cases, provide hope for people from all walks of life in real estate.
You moved from Louisiana to Montgomery five years ago. How has that transition been?
It’s been good overall but challenging to be honest. We both were born in Mobile, AL, but have since lived from New York to South Korea. We’ve had exposure to a lot, so moving back to the South was a bit of a culture shock. Some positive, some negative. Southern hospitality, and unfortunately, stereotypes and stigmas associated with race. That particular challenge has been one that we have embraced as Christians and black business owners.
What is the inspiration behind the name of your business?
My wife and I graduated from Tuskegee University. Our name is a commemoration of the Tuskegee Airmen. As one of the few black-owned real estate brokerages in Montgomery, we liken ourselves to The Tuskegee Airmen and how they served their fellow serviceman and protected the public despite being the only black airmen. They were the most excellent pilots of their time and served with an ethical and moral fortitude that said, “It doesn’t matter how you feel about me. I care about you regardless.”
You serve in many capacities within your church. How has serving as a deacon impacted your life?
It has been an honor to serve my church and community as a deacon. My church is an urban church, so we service a community in a hard place. So for me, it’s been life-changing to impact the lives of others regularly and learn about what it means to care for the needs of the many, as I believe God has called the church to do.
Being a volunteer, what do those projects entail in serving the community?
I volunteer for Strong Foundation, which operates out of the old Boys and Girls Club. Operation Hope is an organization that my brokerage works with to educate the public about finances and home ownership. To do both has been great. The community center run by Strong Foundation host basketball clinics. Hours of Operation for kids and young adults to play basketball provides an afterschool program for limited ages to help with school work, and has even served as a location for a neighborhood health clinic in partnership with two churches.
How does faith center your marriage?
My wife and I took our vows many years ago. We vowed to love each other, but always put God in the center of our lives. We realize that our faith is the key and the foundation of our marriage. It’s how two imperfect people can have a healthy and joyful marriage that may seem perfect to everyone else. It’s because God is who is holding it all together.
The buying seminars you offer through your business, how do they assist others?
Our buyer seminars help people understand how they can move from renter to homeowner. Each person is at a different place in life. Some need to understand budgeting better before buying, and others need to understand how to increase their buying power or even their money management before they can buy a home. We provide the roadmap tools. And in many cases, a little bit of hope to get them there.
You have four children, and the youngest (8 weeks) has a unique name, Cornell Trust. Share the meaning behind his name.
It’s just a name that reminds us of how we came to be in Montgomery and how we have always been able to see God’s plan through all the fog. We moved to Montgomery on faith. We quit our jobs and trusted what God told us. He wanted us to be a part of the church here. We had no idea we would open a real estate brokerage and be a part of many other initiatives in the city. We didn’t exactly plan to have Cornell Trust, and when I found out I was going to be a new dad at 41 years old, we realized that trusting God’s plan over our own has always worked out better than we could have ever dreamed. So we will continue to trust him in this, too.
What advice would you give to others who find it difficult to hold on to God’s promises, especially through adversity?
SH: Realize there are only two choices, trust God or don’t. My advice is to find a way to trust God. Read God’s promises during good times, so your faith is strong during hard times. And study examples of God’s promises in His word and discuss how God has kept his promises in your life and the life of others regularly. Then when difficult times come, you have a strong faith that can endure.
Steward Hayles, III has been married to his wife and business partner Ayata “AJ” Hayles for 13 years. They have four children.