Rachel Melot (pronounced Me-Low) has a vast and impressive resume. She is an author, a podcast host, a business owner, and the President and CEO of Shawnee Forward, a non-profit organization. Just to name a few of the many hats she wears. Suffice it to say, she is a busy and accomplished woman, and we are honored to have her as a Keynote Speaker at our upcoming WeInspireTX Women’s Entrepreneurship Summit in Fairview, Texas on November 16th.
Before we get started, please give us a quick bio so our readers know a bit about who you are and can grasp the scope of your experience and resume.
I am the founder and owner of Wystle gift shop in Oklahoma, where I use the retail storefront as a mentorship for women wanting to learn how to run a business. I am the author of both the book, ‘The Ten Commandments of #SuccessWithoutApology’ and the podcast ‘SuccessWithoutApology.’ I serve as the President and CEO of the not-for-profit Shawnee Forward, focused on Chamber and Economic Development activities.
Beyond that, I was named by the Journal Record of Oklahoma as one of 50 women making a difference in the State in 2022 and graduated from the highly competitive Leadership Oklahoma Program. I led the research efforts earning Oklahoma Governor Stitt’s proclamation that Shawnee is the #1 City in the State of Oklahoma for women-owned businesses. Through speaking engagements and twenty-five years officiating basketball, I have worked in more than 38 states, visited 6 of the seven continents, and believe my life’s work is to encourage the success of women without apology. I live in Shawnee, Oklahoma, with my husband Jason Melot, and I am the proud grandma RayRay to Archer.
Are you as impressed with this bio as we are? We’re not sure when she sleeps, but we are certain that Rachael is someone we want to learn from. And we are lucky she’s agreed to be part of our summit to share what she knows.
What did you want to be when you were growing up and why?
I wanted to be a public speaker and teach gymnastics. mmmm, well I am getting closer to being a public speaker and farther from being a gymnastics coach.
I think the WHY is a bit more interesting. The thing that drives most of my decisions is that I love a lot of things. When I was in college my four suitemates dubbed me the most random person ever and that just kind of stuck. I’m the exact opposite of what they tell women they need to do–to specialize and find your thing because stability provides longevity. I’ve pivoted about every three years and I’ve followed what interests me. I find interesting people and follow that. It has brought amazing things into my life.
This is definitely a recurring theme we’re finding in our interviews–the value of relationships and people in our entrepreneurial journey.
Please speak to the value it has brought you personally and why you think it is so pivotal for female entrepreneurs to network effectively.
Absolutely. There was a study a while back, one Laura Bush has been known to cite, that showed the number one indicator of a woman’s business success is her network. This is true for the women I mentored through Laura Bush’s mentorship program in Tunisia, and it is true for women here. If we believe we’re the average of the five closest friends, that’s a big indicator of success or trajectory. Our natural tendency is to do business with our friends, people we know, like, and trust.
Men have been doing this for years in the ‘boy’s clubs’ of the business world. Trust was being built in places women couldn’t access. But we can now. Relationships have always been the key; it’s just that now women are invited to the table where they’re happening, and that’s huge.
That is a mic-drop piece of insight about relationships. Women have access to the places where trust is being built now. This is huge for all women and opens up opportunities that were not open to past generations. Thank you for sharing with us.
Now, speaking to younger women who want to start their entrepreneurial journey, what advice would you give them?
Honestly, just do it. Women are constantly looking for permission. And this is me giving it to them. DO IT.
(We honestly cannot argue with that).
Speaking of permission, you do something quite spectacular with your boutique, Wystle. Please give us a quick rundown of what that is.
Yes. When I bought Wystle, I did so after spending years outside of my community getting the experience I needed in business–growing as a leader and learning all the ins and outs. I did this all over the country but wanted to do it in my community. But what I really wanted to do was to give young women in my community the chance to develop all of these important leadership skills without having to leave the community. Basically, I needed to leave to get a seat at the table and I didn’t want that for them. So I hire women at Wystle with the idea that if they give me two years I will mentor them and give them access to all of the good, bad, and ugly of being a business owner. When they leave me, they have the skills to run their own business–whatever that looks like for them.
Wow, what an incredible opportunity for young women in your community.
Now, for the fun stuff. We ask three quick fun questions of each of our speakers as a way to introduce our readers to you as a person, which is important. So let’s jump into them.
What three things would you take with you to a desert island and why?
My mom, my husband and an unlimited source of water
What do you do for fun outside of your job?
Compete in random competitions, read, host friends at my house for pickleball and pool days
If you had 30 minutes to pick the brain of any person, alive or dead, who would it be? And why?
I would say Jesus, but he lets me talk to him every day. So my second choice is Kris Jenner – I am fascinated by the empire she has created and continues to recreate each season of her family’s life. I want to know everything about what she does, how she does it, who helps her, etc.
It’s clear from our short time with Rachael that she is a woman entrepreneur who is passionate and driven to help other women succeed in business. We are so excited to have her as a speaker at our November 16th event and can’t wait to see you there.
For more information on the event and for ticket sales, please visit us at https://weinspiretx.com, and in the meantime, please give Rachael a follow on Instagram at @successwithoutapology, Facebook at @successwithoutapology and LinkedIn.