Local & State
|Bondswoman turns heads and fills hearts through her work|
|In male-dominated field, passion stands out|
|Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 2:04 pm|
|PHOTO | MARY GLEN HATCHER|
|Kiara Brewster examines paperwork at Brewster's Bail Bonding in Wilmington. Brewster, 29, stands out in the male-dominated bonding business. She has offices in six North Carolina counties and plans to expand the business.|
WILMINGTON — When Kiara Brewster steps out of her white Chevy Camaro and into the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, she’s greeted — more often than not — with confusion.
With a petite frame, dark eyes that match her bronzed complexion, and meticulously-styled blonde hair, the 29-year-old shyly admits she’s a “head-turner” in the jailhouse. Her delicate tattoos peek out underneath the sleeve of a bold pink shirt — sometimes she’ll match her nails to it, but today they’re bright yellow, encrusted with jewels, and firmly grasped around her Louis Vuitton phone case. She’s always on-call.
Sometimes, her clients don’t immediately recognize her.
“They’re always looking around and they see their family, and I’m sitting right beside them, but they’re like, ‘Where’s the bondsman?!’” Brewster said.
With the logo of her all-female company — Brewster’s Bail Bonding — emblazoned on her top, she approaches with the smile that her father says can pull anyone in; a glamorous anomaly in the male-dominated industry of commercial bail bonding.
“Hi, I’m Kiara, the bondsman. Nice to meet you.”
Mondays are busy days in the second-floor office on the corner of 6th and Market — the primary location of Brewster’s Bail Bonding in Wilmington. New arrests over the weekend mean a stream of new clients and paperwork for Brewster and her team of bail agents to file and process in court.
While a receptionist fills a large whiteboard on the wall with at least 40 new cases — name, court date and bail amounts ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 — a profusion of phone calls and alerts light up Brewster’s phone.
One caller asks about a bond being transferred from Raleigh, a few potential clients ask for her rate, another worries about leaving a loved one alone at the jail once their bail is posted.
“When does he get out?” she asked. The answer is sometime around 2 a.m.
“Yeah, I’ll be there.”
Since opening in 2013, Brewster and co-owner Tammy Tilghman have worked non-stop to expand their bail bonding business to more than five counties in North Carolina, and they have plans for a new office in Jacksonville soon.
Their success is mirrored in bail bonding businesses across the U.S.; the industry generated more than $2 billion in 2018.
Here’s how it works: If a defendant can’t afford to pay the full bail amount for their case, he can stay in jail until his court date, or contract a bail bondsman to front the amount for a fee. The bondsman is then responsible for the client throughout the trial process, making sure he takes take all the necessary steps to resolve his case.
For bail agents at Brewster’s, this means frequent phone calls and visits with clients, making sure they understand their cases and their contracts, and offering support and guidance when they can.
For some clients, Brewster has reached into her own pocket to make ends meet during their difficult adjustment to life outside jail. She’s driven others from Wilmington to Raleigh and back again, just so they can make their court dates.
But there’s one thing she gives every client she encounters: a speech.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a
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