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24 Carat Conversations Podcast

When good friends Phylis Mantelli and Rhonda Velez discovered that they each wanted to start a podcast, they decided to join forces. The result is 24 Carat Conversations with Phylis and Rhonda, a weekly half-hour talk between friends about issues women face today. As of last February, the Gilroy duo had recorded 32 episodes covering issues from friendship and marriage to living your purpose and anxiety and resilience.

“It’s just like we’re having a chat on the couch,” Phylis said. The title of the podcast refers to the Bible verse, Job 23:10, which states, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

“What’s more honest than twenty-four carat conversations?” Rhonda, 47, asked.

“We’re showing that the ugliest things in life can turn into the most beautiful things,” Phylis said. She added that the podcast is about and for women who have emerged from hardships.

While they’re different—Rhonda likes to set goals while Phylis prefers to wing it—the friends have had fun collaborating. “It’s been so amazing to do it with someone who’s your friend,” Rhonda said.

The ladies create content together, bringing different experiences and perspectives to the table. “We really wanted to support women and talk about subjects that sometimes people don’t want to talk about,” Phylis, 62, said

Guests have included a single mom who started her own business, a psychologist, entrepreneurs, and the wife of the pastor of their church. Some they met at networking events
or through Instagram. Phylis and Rhonda, who each have two daughters, enjoyed having them on the show for a two-part episode. “Every person that we have interviewed has exemplified our verse,” Rhonda said.

After the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, they recorded an episode about loss, where they shared their grief and their journey into healing and resilience. “The end result is you have to keep living,” Phylis said. “That’s the message of our podcast. How do you live your best life?”

Before starting the podcast, Phylis and Rhonda studied via how-to books and bought equipment before discovering they really needed good microphones and a podcast hosting web site. They also got some tips from Rhonda’s cousin who is a tech engineer and music producer. He produced their upbeat opening song, edits the podcast, and fixes technical glitches.
The response from listeners, the women say, has been “crazy.” The podcast has more than 4,200 subscribers from all over the world, receiving about 100 new subscribers monthly.
Listeners have sent messages saying how much an episode has meant to them. Two women from the University of Hawaii emailed them, telling them they now want to be life coaches.

“We know we were doing it for that reason. To bring women together, but we didn’t expect this,” Phylis said. The idea of a podcast and bringing women together came up about a year ago when Phylis and Rhonda were talking about their shared passion for helping other women.

The ladies initially connected in 2006 at their church. They have each lost a child—both had passed away of heart conditions as babies. Rhonda, who was in the corporate world for 25 years, created The Tiana Foundation, which assists parents after the loss of a child to neo-natal or early infant death. She is also working on a book of devotionals on expectations of life. A pastor’s daughter, Rhonda says faith has been a cornerstone of her life from an early age, while Phylis says she nurtured hers later in life. Phylis said she came from a dysfunctional home and writes about her journey in her memoir, “Unmothered,” which was published last year. She’s working on a companion course book about overcoming a dysfunctional family and creating a healthy life and family.

“I’m finding now in my 60s I can start a whole new chapter,” Phylis said. That includes enjoying this time of her life as a grandma. Phylis and Rhonda are looking forward to recording
more podcast episodes. Topics will include becoming an empty nester, highly sensitive people, more topics related to motherhood, and social media. The 24 Carat Conversations podcast can be found on Apple, Spotify, and Google Play. It also will be recorded live at the Brave Women’s Conference on April 25 at New Hope Community Church in Gilroy.

Learn more online at phylismantelli.com and rhondavelez.com

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