January 7th, 2019. Exactly three years ago. I was wide-awake at 5:30 in the morning, coffee in hand and adrenaline pumping through my veins. In just a few hours, I would announce Melanie Everett & Company, Chicago’s newest boutique brokerage.
When I decided to leave a national, established real estate brokerage to start my own, I knew there would be a lot to do in a very short time:
I signed up for the managing broker licensing exam. I brainstormed with my fiancé (who became my husband on December 8th, 2018!) and my parents. I talked to trusted sources in accounting and insurance. I exchanged dozens and dozens of calls and emails with the Chicago Association of Realtors and the IL Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. I even had a tech guru come over to our condo to show me how to transfer anything and everything to a new email and document system.
The end of 2018 was a whirlwind, but I was ready. And on that cold January 7th, Melanie Stone Chicago at Coldwell Banker became Melanie Everett & Company.
After my news was out, Melanie Everett & Company – M&Co. for short – started to gain momentum. Courtney, who had gamely joined me on the adventure, became busier than ever with consultations, showings, and contracts. I had listing inquiries right and left, which was less familiar territory for me. I spent my nights and weekends fine-tuning M&Co. marketing and dreaming up new ways to grow the business.
I officially added another broker to the brokerage in March – Candace. We first connected the day after I launched M&Co., when a thick envelope arrived at my WeWork office. Curious, I tore it open to find this letter and more.
Congratulations on the launch of Melanie Everett & Company! I first learned of MSC one year ago while attending SYWTBAC. At the time, I was a prospective buyer (& still am!), however, I write to you today as an aspiring real estate broker.
I always knew about my passion for real estate but continued to suppress it as I searched for ‘the perfect job’ in my current field — marketing. After many months of following your success through Instagram and your blog, I knew I had to take the plunge for myself. Attached you will find more about me, my intentions, & my experience.
Thank you for taking the time to read this — & for inspiring me to write it in the first place.A letter from Candace to me.
Wow! Wow! I couldn’t believe it. Candace wanted to work for my brand-new, two-person real estate company?
Two months later, we celebrated her first day. M&Co. was growing!
I loved that first year. As a newlywed and new business owner, I was having a ball. There were trials, as always, but for the most part, 2019 was a dream come true for me.
My team kicked off 2020 with plenty of new ideas for how to better serve our customers. We were on a roll, having just closed $25 million in sales the year before. The market was heating up, as it always does around the new year, and we were already swamped.
And then… I think you know what happened next.
March 2020. I’m pregnant. Courtney is pregnant. (Our September due dates were a few days apart.) And out of nowhere, a global pandemic.
In those days, I felt consumed by fear. For my growing baby. For my growing company. For my team. For my industry. For our city. For the world. There was a lot of unknown at that time, and even though I knew God was in control, I still worried incessantly.
I know I wasn’t the only one struggling. Everyone was afraid!
The only thing I could do was prayerfully adapt and figure out how to take the next step. My team switched to virtual meetings and consultations, navigated FaceTime showings, invested in 3D tours for our listings, and found ways to lead generate in a changing social scene. Plus, my So You Want to Buy a Condo seminar became a webinar – a total game changer for my business.
By early summer, things seemed to be improving. The real estate market was experiencing record-shattering demand and crushingly low supply. Prices? Sky-high! Every property seemed to sell with multiple offers. Candace was absolutely slammed with showings. She hustled that year while Courtney and I took on less business, and I will always be grateful to her for stepping up.
I brought on another broker that summer: Maggie. We’d met at church years before, and when I received an Instagram message from her one day, I just had a feeling that she was it.
Hiring Maggie was, in fact, one of my greatest decisions to date. Maggie – a quick, patient learner – was organized, dedicated, and well-spoken. She impressed me at every turn! Despite a complicated COVID atmosphere, Maggie soon took on clients of her own, receiving rave reviews along the way.
So, there we were. Me, Courtney, Candace, Maggie. Still dealing with the pandemic. Still navigating a wild real estate market. Still working hard – that is what we do!
2021 was the year I found my rhythm, both as a new mom to Holly Grace Everett and a business owner at Melanie Everett & Company.
My team accomplished our goals – more on that to come next week! – and we grew by one more. Bubbly and genuine Beatriz joined M&Co. in the spring of 2021. I loved her from the start. She was also a new mom, and she fit right into our little team.
Beatriz came along at the perfect time. The city felt alive again. There were happy hours, networking dinners, parties. My M&Co. girls and I were regularly collaborating in-person. We danced the night away at Candace’s wedding together! It took the pandemic to remind me to take nothing for granted.
I’m writing this post on the third anniversary of Melanie Everett & Company. What an unpredictable, incredible, teachable three years. There were good days, bad days, in-between days – and lots of I can’t believe this is my job days.
My real estate story starts and ends with Jesus Christ. He lives in me and through me. He is the true engine under the hood! Through total dependence on God, I am able to move past my own anxieties and let Him lead me, in life and in business.
Phew! Because I can’t do it on my own.
The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.1 Thessalonians 5:24