Reb Risty is the founder and “Head REBL” at REBL Marketing.
The firm helps B2B businesses “build and manage integrated marketing programs through strategy, branding and messaging, strong digital presence, and video content.”
Throughout her career, Reb Risty has been “an owner, partner, and investor in several businesses.”
She got her business background through her MBA in Marketing & Entrepreneurship. In college, Reb Risty also earned a BA in Communications with a minor in Biology.
In 2019, Reb Risty and REBL were voted by the Connected Women of Influence Organization as an Emerging Woman-Owned Business.
The next year, Reb Risty also became a finalist for the 2020 SDBJ Businesswoman of the Year, and a finalist for the 2020 SDBJ CEO of the Year.
As an army brat, Reb Risty “grew up traveling around the world.” She is also the daughter of a German-American father and a Korean mother, and she was “born and raised in Seoul.”
As a kid, Reb Risty has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. She “did everything from lemon stands, babysitting, cleaning a neighbor’s yard, etc.”
Reb Risty even became a “professional Polynesian dancer for several years,” and she even “owned a Polynesian entertainment company.”
It was after Reb Risty got laid off “from a large marketing agency in San Diego” that she decided to start REBL Marketing.
There is no perfect time, but right now, to seize the moment. Reb Risty, REBL Marketing
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Reb Risty: I’m an Army-Brat and grew up traveling around the world. My father was German-American, and my mother is Korean, born and raised in Seoul.
Needless to say, I grew up in a strict household and doing well in school was a must. Although strict, my parents always encouraged us to try things and be our own people.
I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. We did not have a lot of money growing up. Both my parents worked 2 jobs at one point in their careers.
Money to me means freedom, so was always thinking up ways to make money.
As a kid, I did everything from lemon stands, babysitting, cleaning a neighbor’s yard, etc.
I was a professional Polynesian dancer for several years and owned a Polynesian entertainment company.
Those were fun days.
I also had an online eCommerce gift business that I ran through eBay. I also invest in real estate.
When I started REBL marketing I was laid off from a large marketing agency in San Diego.
I did what most people do, I started consulting while I looked for a “real” job.
I eventually took a full-time position with the World Trade Center San Diego and put REBL on hold.
I would take consulting projects here and there but didn’t really take it seriously.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Reb Risty: It wasn’t until my father was diagnosed with cancer and passed in three short months, that I realized I needed to make a decision about starting my own business.
He was only a year and a half into his retirement when he was diagnosed. He had worked hard his whole life and was so happy to finally retire.
His death made me realize I didn’t have much time to take the leap and go for it. You think you have all the time in the world to do things, but you don’t.
There is no perfect time, but right now, to seize the moment. I only wish I would have done it sooner. I’m sure that he would be proud of where I’m at today.
If you want something, put the effort in and don’t give up.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Reb Risty: My third business was a partnership in a franchise pita shop. This is where I learned a lot of lessons on what NOT to do in business.
We trusted a friend to invest in a restaurant. My husband and I were supposed to be silent partners.
Little did we know that the manager had a criminal history. Our partner, who we thought was a good businessperson, wasn’t paying attention to anything at the restaurant.
It wasn’t until the regional director let us know that there was a problem with the restaurant that we started to learn how bad things were going.
The manager disappeared with all the cash and fired all the staff. He left a box of invoices and taxes unpaid in the freezer.
We also found out he didn’t pay the staff and stole their tips. We tried for 2 months to save the business.
I had to jump in and help by working 16 hour days behind the counter. My husband and I had to declare bankruptcy to save our home.
My parents were hard workers. We didn’t have much when I was growing up, so my parents taught me you have to work hard for what you want.
If you want something, put the effort in and don’t give up.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Reb Risty: REBL Marketing has grown through the pandemic. We pivoted quickly and adjusted our services to better fit the situation.
For example, we were able to take our full production video service to a Zoom video editing service that allows us to create engaging content for a client, while they film safe at home or their private office.
We lost a few clients in the beginning and I felt sad. But I’m not a quitter.
The REBL team started to think of new ideas and opportunities right away. I have a good ability to see the positive side.
Never start work until the money is in the bank. Reb Risty
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”?
- Don’t partner or work with friends and family unless you know them really well and are ready for conflict.
- Hiring the wrong person to fill a position will cost you more than having no one at all.
- Fake it until you make it is a double-edged sword.
- Never start work until the money is in the bank.
- When you’re the boss, everyone is scared of you and will rarely tell you the whole truth.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Reb Risty: You can learn more about me and REBL Marketing here:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!