Inspiration

Origin Bank Women Leaders of Today: The Smart, Savvy, and Well-Spoken Siren Sisters Auctioneers

Courtney Cooke
By Courtney Cooke

In the male-dominated world of live auctioneering, the success of Carrie Fruge and Margaret (Meg) Earnest is the epitome of Texas G.R.I.T. (Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity). This twin fueled powerhouse duo, draws upon their passion and natural charisma to connect audiences to a cause, thereby unlocking streams of revenue previously unknown. Specializing in fundraising events and benefit galas, the Siren Sisters Auctioneers are an act you should absolutely check out! Plaid for Women recently caught up with the sisters for a chat, here’s what they had to say.

 

Q: Let’s start at the beginning. Where were you born?
Carrie:Meg:
I am a True Texan born on the southernmost tip of the Texas border. It’s a beautiful spot with grapefruit orchards, cotton fields, warm breezes and the Gulf of Mexico.I was born in the Rio Grande Valley, moved with my mother and sister, Carrie, to an artist colony in Mexico for a bit, then spent the majority of my childhood and teen years in Austin.
Q: What was your childhood like? Did you and your sister do everything together?
Carrie:Meg:
Our childhood was dynamic and diverse. We were raised in San Miguel de Allende (Mexico) a gorgeous artist colony, South Texas and Austin due to family dynamics. We started off in the world in our nuclear family then it expanded to a modern-day Brady bunch with his/hers and theirs for a total of 8 kids. Meg and I always banded together in our larger familial tribe. There was literally never a dull moment. Just think of the adventure and trouble one gets in with so many creative minds. We were taught early the importance of tenacity, team work, humility, love, compassion and acts of service.

Meg and I did tons together…we loved each other fiercely and fought like big sis/lil sis do through the changing chapters of our lives. My mother would share with us, we possessed different talents, but together we were unstoppable.
My childhood was rich with outdoor experiences. Both of my parents were ardent sportsmen so from the time I learned to walk we were all on deer leases, fishing at South Padre, beachcombing and exploring. In the Valley we lived in the country in a restored old hacienda so my dearest childhood “sister” memories are of us spending time in the treehouse, catching lightening bugs and competing on who could catch the most toads in one night. Then there was the night she tied me to a tree at dusk, so the coyotes could find me.
Q: How did you and Meg decide to go into business together?
Carrie:Meg:
about fundraising and having fun together giving back in red carpet style. We have had the shared experience of being inspired by philanthropic friends, Leadership Austin and Ft. Worth Junior League. So, becoming auctioneers was the perfect intersection of our entrepreneurial spirit and heart for others in need. At the end of the day, we are giving back to wide variety of charities with maximum impact. In fact, we donated 100% of our time in 2017 to demonstrate our commitment. We open up people’s wallets by having a shared belief and helping the crowd understand in a quantifiable way what the donation is really doing.I got this crazy idea after being inspired by a non-profit gala that my sister invited me to in Austin. I discussed it with Carrie, she mulled it over for a couple of months and said, “Let’s do it”!

She kick-started it using her engineering background for organization, attention to detail, and networking. Her yin and my yang.
Q: Why did you decide to get into auctioneering? Did you consider other businesses?
Carrie:Meg:
A passion for philanthropy ignited our desire. Plus, we really wanted to a meaningful reason to get together to give back with a shared experience. As adult sisters whom live in different cities, we really missed one another. Other priorities like growing families, careers, etc. interjected themselves and our time together became limited. Auctioneering presented itself as the perfect excuse to spend the weekend together with a meaningful purpose.

We did not consider other businesses, once we were introduced to auctioneering…we were committed…we were in! We love practicing together and collaborating on banter & stage costumes. It’s hysterical to watch us practice.
Actually, auctioneering found us!

I am involved in Junior League of Ft Worth and Carrie had just graduated from the 2017 Leadership Austin class, so we were both highly motivated to make a difference and support our communities. Since both of us have very demanding, full time careers and I was pregnant with my first baby, we felt that this was a weekend way to give back and make huge financial impacts for our local non-profits. We're classy, fun, result driven and have found a way to open people's wallets by helping the crowd understand what a difference their donation is really making.

We didn't consider another business. We quickly recognized that most gala auctioneers are men and gala committee volunteers are women. We thought the time had come!
Q: What is your sister’s greatest strength?
Carrie:Meg:
Must I pick one? It’s a tie between tenacity and outgoingness.My sister has so many strengths it's difficult to pick just one. I hope it doesn't sound cheesy but, to be honest, all of her strengths are my weaknesses. She has always been fearless with her body (summited her first 14,000-foot mountain and took me skydiving for my birthday) and reticent to speak publicly. And I have always been fearless approaching people (at age nine I snagged Gov. Ann Richards on an airplane and invited her to my birthday party...and grabbed President Clinton's arm to inquire about Chelsea) but still drive like an 80-year-old. We both have learned so much from each other these last 18 months. My mother said that when she saw us working on a project together she was always terrified...we were unstoppable.
Q: What have you learned about other organizations as you meet them and help them fundraise for important causes?
Carrie:Meg:
We’ve learned about the non-profit’s mission, the lives they touch, their inspiration, their courageous volunteers, the strong & brilliant non-profit leaders and the importance of advocacy for others from hospitals patients to students. Personally, I’ve learned how people harness their most painful experiences and turn it into power…inspiring everyone around them and providing hope.

The overall theme is there are so many people doing good in the world through small and large acts of kindness…don’t be disheartened by the negative media. Engage in your community and recognize no matter the size of your gift of time, treasures or talents…you can always make a difference.

Honestly, the people we have met along the way of our auctioneering journey have inspired us with their compassion and dedication…reaffirming the importance of being our best selves every day. Our journey as fundraising auctioneers is punctuated with the inspirational leaders. Their commitment to the cause of bettering others has been the biggest gift.
We work closely with each charity and organization to make sure that their mission is understood by the crowd and also to ensure that it's working to create a positive impact in the community. I'm continually inspired by all of the individuals we meet during each event who are extremely passionate about their causes...because that's what fuels our fire and makes for a great auction.
Q: What other businesswomen do you admire?
Carrie:Meg:
Sara BlakelyMy mother...she has done some amazing things in her 32 years as a single mom. She organized the largest EPA hearing in history (burning of chemicals in the Gulf of Mexico 6,000 attendees); testified before Congress with Capt. Jacques Cousteau; and opened a camping, fishing, hunting store.
Q: What is your greatest strength as a leader?
Carrie:Meg:
ResourcefulnessPassion and persistence combined. It's a winning combination!
Q: Define Success.
Carrie:Meg:
Under promising and overdelivering while enjoying the journey....finding what you love doing then giving it your all, day in and day out. Success just seems to follow.
Q: Please leave us with your favorite quote.
Carrie:Meg:
Be the type of energy that no matter where you go, you always add value to the space & lives around you.
- Anonymous
Don't compromise yourself; you are all you've got.
- Betty Ford
Courtney Cooke
Courtney is a wife, mother of two boys, and an employee.  She has a degree in Business Administration which she obtained while working full time in Quality Management for a multi-national, multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company.  While there, she was awarded...Read More
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