In case you didn’t know, today is American Business Women’s Day. Naturally, we couldn’t let that go uncelebrated!
We have so many wonderful, inspiring business women in our Wolf Pack, and we thought today was the perfect opportunity to introduce you to one!
Meet the magnificent Mari Montgomery.
While Mari is fairly new to the Wolf Pack, she’s always, in a way, been one of us. She is the embodiment of so much that we stand for: chasing dreams, fearlessly facing adversity, and accomplishing goals. And, of course, doing it all in style.
It would be an understatement to say that Mari does it all. She’s been a professional singer, a teacher of music, and she now owns a successful real estate agencyand is a member of the Huntsville City Council.
We had the opportunity to do a fun Q&A with Mari and learn a little bit about her past, her professions, and her passions.
DDR: You’re originally from Pennsylvania. What drew you to Texas, and do you think you’ll ever go back up north?
MM: I’m not going back north. I am a Texan now, through and through! Now, how I got to Texas is a longer story. I was in sales, and a ‘cold call’ started it all. If anyone wants to know the rest, it would make for a great ‘meet-up’ story over a glass of wine!
DDR: Fair enough! Well, Texas is glad to have you. So, now you’re a resident of Huntsville, and you own your own real estate agency, Mari Realty. What led you to real estate?
MM: I have had an interest in real estate since I was a little girl. My parents looked at buying a new home in the seventies. I was so intrigued by the process that I pretended to be their agent. I would scour the newspaper for listings and tell my parents about various attributes of each home that we viewed. They thought it was cute, but I was quite serious about it.
DDR: That is cute! But yes, you certainly were serious about it. You’ve had an interest in it for a long time, but your career path didn’t lead straight there. Prior to real estate, you taught music, correct? What spurred that transition?
MM: Well, I never really intended to be a music teacher. I intended to be a professional singer, which I was for a time. I got my Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Vocal performance. I served as an Assistant Professor of Music at a small college in Charlotte, NC until the airport expansion took over the campus. When I arrived in Texas, I decided to get certified to teach secondary. Mostly because music is what I knew. When I was in my mid 40’s, I was a choral director in Huntsville. One day in early spring of my second year in the position, I just was stopped in my tracks in my office and the thought came to me that there was one expression that I did NOT want on my tombstone, “Would’ve, Should’ve, Could’ve.” I was already in my mid-forties. When would I become a real estate agent? I decided then and there that I would resign at the end of the school year. I took my first real estate classes during spring break.
DDR: Oh, wow – way to seize the day! Wait, so you said you were a professional singer for a time? That’s really impressive. What was that like?
MM: One of the most exciting times of my life. I was hired to a year’s worth of contracts as a soloist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, as well as travelling with Opera Carolina. I was featured on their Classical Series, Jazz Series, and their Broadway Series. I will never forget my debut performance with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. I sang “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”, and I got a standing ovation. I was dumbfounded. But the best part was that it has always been my mom’s favorite song, she asked me to sing it almost every time that I saw or visited her. It was an extremely special moment—one I will never forget.
DDR: That’s incredible! Congratulations! Ok, so you can sing, you can sell real estate, and now you serve on the City Council for Huntsville. How did that come about?
MM: I had accomplished the goals that I had set for myself in real estate, my specific 10 year goals. So, I genuinely felt like it was time to give back. I had served on the Board of Adjustments for the City of Huntsville since 2013 and was elected as Vice Chair in 2018. A friend of mine from the board asked me if I had ever thought about running for City Council. Well, I had thought about it for years, but never had the time to even consider running. I decided that it was time to throw my hat into the ring in July 2018. I was elected to City Council on November 6, 2018.
DDR: My goodness, you sure wear a lot of hats! Speaking of hats… Let’s talk a little fashion! How would you describe your own personal style?
MM: Eclectic, chic, rebel, boho-rocker-hipster. I’ve only been wearing Double D Ranch since March, so I am relatively new to the brand, yet I feel as if I have finally found a way to express “me” that I haven’t ever found before.
DDR: Well said. I think a lot of the Wolf Pack feels that way, no wonder you fit right in! And welcome, by the way! How were you introduced to Double D and the Wolf Pack?
MM: My dear friend, Cheryl Reader Graulty, who I met in 2012 when I helped Cheryl and her husband Kevin sell a property. She and I would get together from time to time for “girl time” at a local pub and grub. One time, she brought me a DDR catalog. I was actually too busy in that season of my life to pay that much attention, but then I picked up the catalog from time to time late at night and became more intrigued. Then, we went to the Mothership on a memorable Saturday in March. We were met with champagne, smiles and a store full of amazing clothes and accessories. It was so much fun. I began to understand what Cheryl was telling me about the whole DDR experience being “more than the clothes and accessories”.
DDR: We’re happy to hear that! We love having our customers come visit the Mothership, and we really enjoy making it an “experience” – shopping should be an event! Ok, so what are you loving? What are your DDR favorites?
MM: From the current Cattlemen Collection? Omg, the Cattlemen Vest! And the Warwinds Jacket and Pant. Oh, and I love all the new socks; I know that sounds ridiculous, but I love the socks. I probably own 12 to 15 pairs already! But of all time? My Code of the West hat with “Doug-isms”! I find myself reaching for that hat to wear with just about everything.
DDR: Solid choices! And you rock the Code of the West hat well, we love that you share your looks that get you motivated to go out and conquer your day. You’re a pretty active member of the Facebook Double D Addiction group. How would you describe the Pack and your relationship to it?
MM: It is the most fabulous group of women (and a few men) with whom I have ever had the pleasure to be associated. These women are a smart, sassy, brave, strong, resilient, caring, generous, genuinely kind hearted group of like-minded sisters, who enjoy feeling just as fabulous on the outside by celebrating brilliant design through wearing and sharing a line of upscale clothing and accessories backed by “old fashioned” over-the-top customer service.
There are many challenges that we all face in this life. It is a true honor to be a part of this amazing group called my “pack.” I find myself going to the Facebook page to check on my sisters to get caught up with their day because they have become a part of my life. And how great to have this sisterhood to turn to before I have to handle something difficult. So many inspiring stories and inspiring women to help each other through. I feel as though a number of these women will be friends for life.
DDR: That’s a really beautiful sentiment. The Wolf Pack never ceases to amaze and inspire us. All of you are so magnificent, and to see so many people from all walks of life, from all over the country, come together over a mutual interest is astounding. We often say “we made the clothes, y’all created the community.” Ok, so what advice would you give to your fellow Pack members who are considering venturing into real estate, or to being an entrepreneur in general?
MM: Building a business is not for everyone. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. Even the most painful parts. Because not only do those experiences make you stronger, they also expose a human element and challenge your very core. They force you to decide who you are.
In regards to real estate… If you don’t have the passion for the business, don’t do it. If you are thinking you can “set your own hours” (LOL), don’t do it. If you are looking for a quick buck, PLEASE don’t do it. But, if you have a sincere interest in helping people, if you have an amazing work ethic, if you have the ability to value a client’s best interests above your own, if you have resilience, if you have thick skin – or are willing to develop one – then go for it!
DDR: That’s all really powerful, profound advice. If you could sum up your personal life motto or mantra, what would it be?
MM: I will always go forward.
We believe you will, Mari, and all of us are rooting for you! We are honored to have you be a part of the Wolf Pack, and we are thrilled to share your story.
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