Chicago Real Producers: Melanie Everett of Melanie Everett & Company

Storyteller Turns Female Entrepreneur with the Help of Her Secret Sauce

By Nora Wall

Just married, launching her own firm, and hitting her stride at 25, Melanie Everett is taking on the real estate industry and embracing life. Pulling in a total of $47,233,350 in career volume sales in just four years, she left Coldwell Banker in 2019 to step out on her own as Melanie Everett & Company. She describes her new company as “a mighty team of two.” Her partner is Courtney Funkhouser, a CPA and former accountant.

Melanie, the eldest of three children, grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois. With two younger brothers, she led the pack. As a little girl she dreamed of running her own company. She always felt a strong itch to build something from the ground up. She attributes this desire to the influence of her father, who is also an entrepreneur. He encouraged her to go out on her own and stretch herself.

A journalism major at DePaul University, she was debating what to do after college as she entered her senior year. She explains, “Writing has been my thing since I was really young, so it was natural for me to choose journalism, but I was burned out on it.” Contemplating waiting tables and looking for a new direction, her dad suggested she become a realtor. He said to her, “How hard can it be?”

As it turns out, it’s really hard. But Melanie started strong right out of the gate: She won Coldwell Banker’s Rookie of the Year award in 2015, and she made Realtor Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list in 2017. In 2018, she rose from the top 2 percent to the top 1 percent among Chicago REALTORS®, and became a President’s Club Member at Coldwell Banker. She closed a cool $19.2 million in sales volume in 2018.

She had reached a point at Coldwell Banker where she realized she was designing all of her own marketing materials and getting all her own leads. She explains, “I started looking at what Coldwell Banker was taking, and I thought, ‘I think I can do this on my own.’” She believed she could tell a better story. She decided to go out on her own in late 2018.

Mentorship has played an important role in her leadership development. She really connected with Andy Shiparski, who was her managing broker at Coldwell Banker for four years. (Andy is now at Compass.) And she still picks up the phone and calls Hunter Andre, the agent who trained her while she was studying for her real estate license, for advice.

Melanie Everett & Company’s online presence comprises the core of her business strategy. A writer at heart, she has a gift for telling stories and engaging people online. She has built her own digital platform, relying mainly on Instagram and her blog for marketing. She writes and shares online, allowing people to get to know her. Keeping her focus on service, she also asks her clients a lot of questions. She attributes her success to her commitment to service, digital prowess, storytelling ability, branding expertise, and strong faith. She boldly declares, “Her secret sauce is Jesus.”

For lead generation, she created her seminar, “So You Wanna Buy A Condo.” The seminar targets first-time home buyers. It’s a fun, relaxing, and informative event, and it’s also a powerful lead generation tool. The event generates about 100 leads for her each month.

While she was building a name for herself in real estate, back in 2016, Melanie met her husband, Andrew, on the dating app Hinge. He’s an engineer and a systems guy, and he has helped her out with all of the technical, backend aspects of her business. They are both a three on the enneagram: achievers. A well-matched and very happy pair, they bought a place together in Lincoln Park, and were married in December of 2018.

When I spoke to Melanie, she was open about one of her biggest challenges—anxiety. She, like many others, worries a lot about what people think. Did she say the wrong thing? Are people happy? She struggles with it on a daily basis. She says that she is learning to take things in stride, but working on her anxiety is an ongoing process. For her, she says, “Faith helps me a lot. I’m a child of God. What does God think of me? He thinks I’m awesome, regardless of my sales volume.”

What’s striking about Melanie is how effortless she makes everything she’s accomplished at such an early age look. A dynamic woman with a lot of grace, she takes her success in stride. Melanie’s innate sense of gratitude carries her forward. She explains, “I’ve been blessed with the support of family and friends.” Now the proud owner of her own firm, she is fulfilling her childhood dream of building her own company. Melanie exemplifies how much can one individual can accomplish by pursuing a dream with faith, determination and an awesome attitude.   

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