Written By: Keeli Malone
I grew up in an old school sense of a family that had a mom that was home that greeted me from school (while my dad worked) and a Grandma (and Pap) that lived 15 minutes away that would host a house packed with my cousins, aunts, and uncles every Sunday. We would cook and play games and I never questioned who was constructing the delicious homemade meal that filled the house with comfort.
As a child, when I fell, it was my mom that put a band-aid on my knee and kissed me. She was the one that I pretended to be when I played with my cabbage patch doll. She nurtured and hugged my sister and me and she secretively prayed every night that we would settle down in our small town and live next to her forever. The women (cousins, sister, aunts, mom, and grandma) in my family were my tribe and offered a sense of safety my entire childhood.
Pictured: Phon, Monica & Keeli
It wasn’t until I was in high school when I had an accounting teacher that was a woman that talked about her life before teaching as a financial advisor that made me think that it could be possible that I too could seek a career in business. Up until that point, I always thought I would be a teacher. I joined the Future Business Leaders of America and it was all set in motion from there.
I studied supply chain management at college and it didn’t dawn on me that I was one of the only females until my warehouse management class. I didn’t realize how one sided my degree was. I continued with some of my first jobs working in a male dominated field of production and supply chain and was often laughed at for thinking I could understand how a production plan was created or how I should optimize my inventory or manage a warehouse. Instead of being intimidated by this, it turned into a motivator! I wanted to prove them wrong and I had a successful 10-year career in the chemical industry making a path for myself.
Along the way, I bonded with some of the most amazing women I have ever met! To this day (17 years later) we still get together one weekend a year to shop, bond and talk for 48 hours straight. I remember an older gentleman that worked in the same company telling me that he couldn’t believe that we could laugh and have so much fun during a ½ hour lunch in the company cafeteria….I thought he was implying that we were being unprofessional…but he said that we were the envy of the company! People loved that we counted on each other and lifted each other up. He said it put a smile on everyone’s face to see the “future leaders” of the company so secure and happy and thriving! By the way…fun fact, Monica is one of those dear friends!
Fast forward, an MBA later, a marriage and a second child on the way….I found myself in a situation with both Phon and I working, having a toddler and another on the way, and no family around. That is right, my mom’s dream of having me close by was gone and I now lived in a different state. I was faced with a difficult decision to give up my career that I worked so hard for to be home with the kids. We were both raised with very humble beginnings and had student loans and car payments and mortgage and the idea of paying for daycare for 2 kids while commuting to the city sounded crazy!
I would be working just to support my tolls and parking and daycare. On the other hand, giving up a salary was equally as scary! I decided to take the jump! It was one of the scariest times of my life. I remember thinking the minutes of the day felt like hours and you have no idea what I would have done to drink a “hot” cup of coffee or dry my hair and put on makeup and talk to other adults! It was a lonely time, yet the sweetest time of my life.
Once again I was not alone in the venture. Of course, I had Phon but not in the everyday diaper, feeding, cooking cleaning type of way. (How did my mom do this??) I still had my work “girls” and of course, Monica! Also, I joined a crazy, amazing, and equally insane group of women in a mom’s group. I met a handful of amazing women that lent me a shoulder to cry on, watched my kids when I was in a pinch, delivered meals, shared baby clothes, glasses of wine, blood, sweat, and tears. There is absolutely no way that I could have made it through the toddler years without every friend along the way!
It was during the pregnancy of my third child that Revel was brewing. I am so incredibly blessed that I was able to re-enter the workforce after my time with the children and “grow” Revel with my best friends. Not only is Revel an amazing startup, but it is also a product that can empower women! A product that helps you identify, helps you feel better, helps you feel edgy, helps you feel confident, helps you feel polished…a product that shows your creativity! I loved the idea! I loved creating a company from an idea in a casual conversation with my husband and best friends. I loved that we poured our hearts and souls into it. I loved that everything that made me a good mother I was able to put into our new “baby”.
Pictured: Tradeshow booth from 2017
All of the nurturing that I learned from my family growing up, all of the patience that my friends have shown me throughout the years, and all of the empowerment that I received from my colleagues and girls throughout the process was dumped into building Revel. My years of education prepared me, but the most important piece of this puzzle is the mountain of support that you build around you. When you slip there is someone to catch you.
There were many tough conversations at the beginning of Revel and having these talks with your best friends is hard. Luckily for Monica and me, we build our friendship on real things….trust, admiration, inspiration. So when we have to have hard conversations we know we are both coming from the best possible place. We are sincere. How many people can say that they get to go to work with their “real” sister, their sister in law and own a company with their best friend “sister”? My village is full of meaningful friendships that I know will last a lifetime in any direction that I may choose….child, student, young professional, stay-at-home mom, business owner, and whatever is next to come! Bring it on! We are ready!
Pictured: Reed & Monica Sutton, Keeli & Phon Malone. Co-Founders/Owners of Revel Nail.