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March 28, 2023

All Up In: Family Roots & Business Success

All Up In: Family Roots & Business Success
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Welcome back, folks! Today, I channel my inner Garth Brooks and blame it all on my roots…. and my own hard work and business acumen. 

Tune in to hear my post-yoga-retreat thoughts on why I believe my business has been successful, and why Phoebe Bridgers might just save us all.  



Music. Welcome to All Up In My Lady Business. I am your host, Mary Nesey. On this podcast, I'll explore the fine line between having it together and losing your shit. Here I share my journey as an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife, a DJ, and randomly a beekeeper. I have no shame and no filter except the ones I use on Instagram. My stories of resilience, a little structure, and a lot of resourcefulness can show you how to take those same things and live your life with your whole ass. Thanks for listening. Music. Welcome to All Up In My Lady Business. I am your host Mary Nisi. On today's pod we're gonna be talking about family roots and how I got to where I am in an ancestral sort of way. That might sound a little more broad than it actually is. But how are things going? What's happening? I feel like I am in the midst of some kind of like midlife-y, crisis-y kind of thing. I'm like having like feelings and I'm sure it's probably part of the change that's also kind of making things a little bit wonky in my brain. But I don't know if I mentioned this in the previous episode. But when I was in Panama again for that yoga retreat, I met this woman. Her name's Katie Rexing. You can look her up on the internet, Katie Rexing. She's got a whole following herself, but, she had told me about this healer that she sees that had kind of suggested to her that in the month of March, millions of people were going to start leaving the planet. And I don't know, for whatever reason, that really freaked me out partially because I had done like a chart reading and they said that like March was going to be my month and March things like, you know, things are gonna be weird. But like, as soon as Saturn exits Aquarius and enters Pisces, all these good things are gonna start happening for me. And so I don't know if I've just been kind of like, well, I can just wallow in self pity until that happens. Anyway, I made an appointment with that healer. I just had to kind of see what it was all about. And why not? Why don't you just experience what's happening in the world and kind of, you know, experiment with the different types of woo-woo-woo that can woo your woo. Anyway! She said a lot of things to me and she basically said that not that really people are going to start leaving the planet but that the conditions are going to be right for like people with high frequency vibrations to like rise above and like the Ron DeSantis's of it all down below are gonna. Not make it. We didn't really go too deeply into that but one of the things that she did teach me about was this type of meditation, hara meditation, where there's a thing called the dan qian, I don't know if I'm saying that right, and it's like a red fireball that's like two inches below your belly button and kind of back in the middle of your pelvis. And you have to kind of imagine that it is like a pendulum, like a rope that's going right down to like the metallic core of the earth. And that's kind of like your force. And then up high in your chest is this other ball that's like your soul chunk. I don't know. And then like above your head, she said it was like a disco ball, which of course then appealed to exactly what I needed. And that's like the the instruction manual. So between the instruction manual, your soul and then your life force, you get them all in alignment. And then you kind of do that like four to five times a day, like connect your Dan Quan to the life force, then kind of imagine it going up through your head. And I've been doing this for a couple of days now, and I gotta say, I'm in a great mood. I was in a real bad place prior to that. I was like real weepy, couldn't get it together. John and I were fighting. It was a fun feeling. And like, I don't know, was I solved by a meditation ball in my pelvis? I don't know, but it can't hurt to try, right? I mean, whatever, if I'm getting something out of it, Isn't that the whole point? So anyway, I've been feeling pretty good and so yeah, that's kind of what's happening is I've got this new meditation and maybe you do now too. And then last week I was in Sonoma, California. I went to Sonoma for a conference for the Be Sage conference. It was like the last thing I did before the pandemic. I went to Austin in February 2020 for this conference and it's a conference for wedding professionals, but it's amazing. It's like mostly women. It's a lot of planners and photographers and florists. I think I was the only DJ there. I heard there was another one there, but I never saw her. I'm Becca Kaufman, who's a band leader here. She was there. She's amazing. And this is the first B-SAGE that happened since the pandemic. And I was so excited for this. Everybody who goes to it's pretty like established in their business. Like there's not a lot of like hobbyists or people who are early in their careers at this thing. It's kind of an expensive conference and it's great because the brain trust there is at your level. And so you're able to like really talk about real issues and not having to couch them in terms of like whether or not other people aren't at your level. Like everyone's at the same level. And my friend Annie was going, who was on this podcast, Annie Ruggles, sales queen, the non-sleazy sales academy queen. And Annie and I drove up with my brother. My brother Chris picked us up at the airport and drove us to Sonoma, which is so nice. It's so nice of him to have done that because I don't know. I mean, I would do it because I don't care. I like to do things. But I think a lot of people wouldn't just pick me up at the San Francisco airport and then drive me to Sonoma and drop me off and then drive home. That said he was coughing the whole time and then texted me on Tuesday night and was like, oops, I've got COVID. And then on Wednesday morning, I'm like, oops, I've got COVID. And then Annie also said, oops, I've got COVID. And then apparently five more people also tested positive that morning. Who knows if I was patient zero, if I was typhoid Mary, but then apparently after the conference, like 20 more people got it. Like, was it me? Could I have gotten that many people sick? I mean, given my insane attitude towards COVID, the idea of being a super spreader. It hurts me on the inside. So I had to kind of extinguish that thought. But I did get two days with the people of BSAGE and it felt so good. I had some wonderful conversations. And then when. Annie and I were basically quarantined together, because we could be around each other maskless because we both were infected, Annie and I had like this beautiful like flow day where we just like talked through what we want to do with our lives and our businesses and all these other things. And Annie was like, what's your happiest place? What are I'm like, well this, I love being able to talk into this microphone and yammer about whatever is in my head. And I love interviewing people and feeling like I'm able to, and I think I'm pretty good at it. I like being able to like get stuff out of people and kind of make connections. And, you know, the feedback I get from people is really good. Like people are so complimentary about this. At least the ones who talk to me about it. There might be a whole cadre of people on Reddit that just tear me apart, but I'll never know because I don't go on Reddit. But I do really love being able to sit here and talk at you people and be a part of this sort of thing. But I also really love being in real life. I love discussing career paths and where people are at and how we can get them someplace else. And I just like holding space for people and kind of sifting through all that's happened and find patterns and meaning in my job, history and my friends and my family and how it all led me to today. I mean, because the only thing we have is right now, right? That's the only thing we can be sure of is like the absolute presence. I just want to be there to help people kind of figure out their businesses and their frustrations and you know, the weird things like weird thought experiments. I just was poking around on my website and I realized that the post for my pod page, there's a thing on the right side that says, leave me a voicemail and you can leave me a voicemail. You can like just go on there and quickly record it and you could send me anything. You could send me a question you want me to answer. You could give me like just a regular just like a voicemail shout out that I could play the best ones on my next episode. If anybody sends those in, I would love to be able to play some shout outs, some high notes, as John Lovett would call it. You know, maybe you can give a suggestion for a guest or you know, whatever. I love the idea of people sending in like weird thought ideas, because I get a lot of dumb thoughts in my head. And that's how we get most of these episodes. The podcast is me just having a thought and then running with it. Like the other day I was texting my friend, Jessica, who's been on the podcast a couple of times, and I had this thought where I was like, it feels like music doesn't really rock anymore. There used to be like, you know, like a good, like 35% chunk of music that was like rock, and it feels like that's gone. And I was like, is this because like the 18 year olds that would have like left their houses at in 2008, like, because of the recession, they were all living at home with their parents, uh, until they were like 26 or whatever. And. Because they aren't like getting away from their families and like making new friends and learning. Maybe that thing your dad used to say to you all the time is pretty fucked up or whatever. And then you start a band and you're able to like practice in your house because you live in a third floor or like a 10th floor rock walk up or you live in a garden basement and like you can just practice music in your gross apartment and you're broke because you live in an apartment that you pay for with a job that you have, I don't know, at a Starbucks or whatever. This is just a thought experiment I had. I'm not saying that this is what the world is, but I was just like, is this why there's no rock and roll bands is because everyone had too soft of a life. I mean, of course, there's sadness to living at your parents' house to your 26, but like, there are people aren't getting edges anymore. But then we kind of started talking it through. I'm like, is this why there's been so many awesome female bands that have emerged in the last couple of years? Because, you know, the guys are too sad to actually make rock and and roll and the girls are like, they finally have a place to like, you know, they can practice in their house in their parents' basement because they're filling the void from the rock bands with like the Phoebe Bridgers and the Lucy Dacuses and you know, the Always and I mean, there's so many good female bands right now. I wonder sometimes like if these bands existed when I was younger, would I have just been like a bystander? I was very much a participant in the rock world, but I was just a consumer. Like I was a consumer grade rock fan. Like I wasn't making music. I wasn't tour managing. I wanted to be a tour manager so badly, but I just didn't feel like that was a place that I could occupy. Like the movie Almost Famous, like I really wanted to like tour manage. God, that would have been really cool. But anyway, you know, Phoebe Bridgers will save us all. Anyway, thoughts like that. You can leave a thought like that on to the voicemail and I can maybe explore it or whatever. I just really want to see where this podcast could go, like getting more engagement, getting more you guys involved and seeing where we could take this together. You know, you get like a lot of emails from like podcast publishers who are like, hey, I want you to get my person on here. She's got a podcast, six figures or, you know, three easy steps to your six figure real estate career or whatever. And they want to have mom here as a guest. And I'm like, are they prepared to discuss the. Abortion they had in high school that made it possible for them to, like, have a life? I don't know. That's where I what I want it to be. Anyway, you know what I'm saying? I don't know where this went. That went to a weird, dark place. But anyway, my point all this is, if you go to all of them, my lady business dot com on the right side, it says all up in your lady business. If you click there, you can leave me a voicemail and let's see where this takes us. It's gonna be something else. Support for this episode is brought to you by Sparrow for Everyone, the hair cream. You might remember that I had founder Susan Flaga on this podcast back in season two, episode three. Anyway, I absolutely love my hair cream. I actually remember Susan literally making the formulas in her kitchen and like, it's really fun to see something go from an idea to an amazing product. I really love this one. I have kind of fine, curly hair that needs something to like pump it up, but like, I don't know what it is about my hair, but it turns every single thing that goes into my hair into like an oil slick. And so I have like a million tubes of like every cream that I would use once, and it would just make my hair like oilier. But this doesn't and I can use it when my hair is wet or dry and reapply it on top of it and it doesn't weigh my hair down. I can like use it and like not wash my hair the next day which is really hard for, me to do because my hair gets kind of gross quickly but it doesn't get very gross quickly with this product. So I'm just I'm like you know I specifically I'm talking about my needs but if, you follow them on socials Susan makes these really fun and weird little videos that show how it can work on like non-woman inner 40s with curly hair archetypes. It's vegan and cruelty-free, free of synthetic fragrance, and it's clinically tested to be safe for sensitive skin. And it's designed by a stylist who wants better options for sensitive people. You can find them at and use the code LADYBUSINESS for 10% off your first order. So this is a little bit taking us further back into the Niecy business. I was thinking about why my business works. I started Toast & Jam rather because I didn't know what else to do with my life and I think I've said that before. I had been dicking around in retail and improv and waiting tables and all kinds of weird stuff like that. And I started this business and it kind of just worked from the moment I started it. Other than outside the pandemic, which is a zone, I wish her medically sealed nightmare that existed and never impacted my life again, but I don't think that's how that's gonna go. But prior to the pandemic, I never had a bad year. And in my idea of good, like, I mean, I was very much that broke-ass, you know. Gritty hipster living in a $300 a month apartment and it was a good time, but it was a very broke time in my life. I had very low needs for money. I wasn't in debt, at least not terribly in debt, and I could live a pretty cheap lifestyle. So keeping that in mind, I had success with this company pretty much from the very beginning. And I always kind of wondered why, like, why is this working? I have no business experience. It's not like I read business books. It's not like, I just sort of like fucked my way through it and like it worked out. So my family owned a restaurant in Omaha. It was called the Spare Time Cafe. And it was a steakhouse. It was an Italian steakhouse. So, you know, steaks and pasta. And I didn't know much. About it from a detail standpoint the restaurant went completely under in the early 80s when I was like five six years old, and so I got to see the kind of sad end to it and. You know the misery around it and the anxiety and the sadness and the regret and the, Disappointment and the embarrassment like that's the kind of stuff when I think about it. I don't have like positive memories I remember when I was really little going there and my mom would get the bartender to make Robin and I blended Shirley Temples and that was how I liked my Shirley Temple was not up not neat but blended but that's about all I remember from it and then it closed and my family entered a very dark period of time and when I started Toast & Jam my family was not very positive about it it wasn't like they were like oh cool fuck yeah Mary do it you go girl it was like owning a business is hard and don't come asking me for money when this fails. And my mom was very nervous for me. And I know it came from a good place because she had seen the spare time fall apart. But for whatever reason, I kind of always thought it was going to work. And that's kind of followed me in a lot of things. Like usually when I just make my decisions, I just assume they're going to work and they usually do. I'm like a jump off the cliff, build my wings on the way down kind of person. So anyway, so I start the business, but I did always kind of wonder why it was working, especially considering my family had this restaurant that fell apart. All I really knew about it. So there is a Facebook group called Forgotten Omaha. And it is a page where people can post like, pictures of the corner of 13th and Farnham from 1937. The soda jerk used to be there. And it was like, you know, just sort of showing old, old things from Omaha that aren't there anymore. And so my grandpa's restaurant, the Sparetime Cafe, my grandfather started it, my dad inherited when he died, and then promptly ran into the ground. Back in the day, it was like the restaurant in Omaha, like, It was like when celebrities would come to town, they would go to eat there. There was like. Pictures of my dad and Jimmy Durante and my grandma and my grandpa and Cary Grant. Like, there were these big pictures on the walls of my parents and my grandparents with various old-timey celebrities. And it was like the place to go. And I did know that. I knew it used to be kind of important and huge. And so because it was a big restaurant and it was around, My grandfather started it, I think, in the 50s, maybe even the 40s. I don't even know when the spare time started. My sister would know. It was around for decades. And so on this forgotten Omaha page on Facebook, every three months or so, something would come up about the spare time. It'd be like, anybody remember the spare time cafe? Here's an old menu, or here's a matchbook, or here's an old photo of me and the bus boys hanging out with the boss. And it'd be like my dad and like, you know, some kids, you know, like bussing tables or whatever. And I was like, wow, I guess I did, but didn't know. To me, I was like, kind of like, wow, like it's my family. Look at that. We've got a legacy. And I knew obviously that my grandpa and my grandma had immigrated from Italy. They came here. My dad was first generation. And my grandma and my grandpa moved here in the, I think the twenties or maybe the late teens. Again, Robin would know this. I probably should have done a little bit of research before I started talking. Know Mike about this, but you know, building my wings on the way down. So the point of this is that Unforgotten Omaha, somebody had posted this interview with my grandpa from the Omaha World Harold and it was from July 19th 1969, and it was an interview with my grandpa, Salvatore Sam Nissi. And somebody had posted it to the Forgotten Omaha page being like, oh, here's a great article about, you know, Sam Nissi, an old restaurateur that used to be here in Omaha. And I read it and I got more from that article about him than I've ever had anybody in my family be able to tell me this. And in the article, he's talking about when he moved here, his first job was digging out the Union Pacific Railroad. Literally was like digging the railroad spikes out of the ground, you know, like put like laying down the thing and he like didn't have gloves and he remembered how cold it was and he'd never seen snow before because Italy didn't have snow, at least not the part of Italy he was in. And then after that he worked at a gas station and then eventually he bought the gas station and then one day he went to a restaurant and was eating a steak and some pasta and he was like, wait I can do this better than this his can. And so my grandma and my grandpa just started a restaurant with like no idea what they were doing and it grew to being one of the biggest restaurants in Omaha and I was like wow, like that is him like once again jumping off a off a cliff and building his wings on the way down and it was the first time as I'm reading this as I'm looking at this article it was the first time I kind of saw myself in my family like a. A self-starter. Like, he started it because he felt he could do it better than anyone, and he did. And, you know, that's kind of, you know, I started Toast & Jam because I was like, there has to be a DJ company that can do weddings that's not just going to play, you know, schlock. And it's interesting because my grandpa died in, I think, 1973. And he died around my birthday. My dad always would be kind of sad and depressed around my birthday. Again, another reason why I probably, like, pump my birthday up now is that my birthday, I always kind of had this cloud around it because it was the anniversary of his dad dying. And you know, my dad was the only son and he was like really good at being the guy at the restaurant that would like walk around and shake hands and kiss babies and comp drinks. And I've heard that he had a great personality and he was funny and people liked him. But that's all he learned how to do was just how to like glad hand and be a good host. He didn't ever learn the business part of it. I mean, I find myself not necessarily being like that, like hoarding my knowledge and gatekeepering it. But like, I can see it where like, I can do it, I'm doing it, I can do it, I don't need anybody else to help me. It'll take me longer to show you how to do it than do it myself. And now I have people that work for me that can do that. But it took a long time for me to realize that somebody else could do it the same, if not better than me in terms of the back of the house stuff that I do. And I don't think my grandpa ever got out of that. And so when he died. My dad didn't really know what he was doing. And my mom was the real brains behind the operation. But ladies can only do so much, I mean, with their dumb lady brains. And so my grandpa dies. And then my mom and him did what they could. And then in 1975, the year I was born, there was a tornado that took out my grandpa's restaurant. It went on 72nd Street, which is like the, at least this is the lore I've been told. Again, didn't confirm any of this. This is like how it lives in my brain. But there was a tornado that goes down 72nd Street, destroys everything in its path, including my parents' restaurant. And then they tried to rebuild it back in its old location. There was a location that was down on Fifth and Pierce, which is in like the Little Italy area of Omaha. And there is indeed a Little Italy area of Omaha. And they tried to rebuild it down there. And then it didn't work because it fell apart pretty quickly. And my dad had started like mentally deteriorating when my mom was pregnant with me. And so when the restaurant fell apart, my dad went with it. Anyway, that's a different story. So my dad starts to deteriorate, my mom's trying to run the restaurant and raise six kids by herself because my dad's falling apart. And then it doesn't go that way. The restaurant winds up. Falling apart sometime in the early 80s. And, you know, we have this joke in my family, which I may have mentioned here before, but like, you know, my older brother, there's four of my four older brothers and sisters, and then there's Robin and I and like, the joke we have in our family is like in the movie Boogie Nights, like the first half is like, on video or it's on film, and it's all soft focus, and you know, everyone's treated nicely, and it's like, it's still porn, but like, they're treating them nicely, and it's nice. But then Robin and I are like the second half of Boogie Nights, where it's like on video, and it's like cocaine and fireworks on the floor, without the cocaine. And so, you know, then the restaurant closes, my dad falls apart, my mom's raising his kid, and we, you know, whatever, she divorces him, hospitals it's yeah anyway you know we lived through some really tough times in that time. You know, my mom, again, raising six kids by herself. My dad is no longer in the house. And, you know, our lights would get turned off. We wouldn't have enough money for Christmas trees. My mom's friends would buy us a Christmas tree. Once I hit, like, my adolescence, my teen years or whatever, like the most impactful years of my life, my dad's gone. My mom is trying to raise us. My dad's in and out of mental hospitals. They're divorced. In retrospect, it was kind of poverty. Like, our lights would get turned off. And like, And like, we wouldn't have enough money for Christmas presents or a Christmas tree. My mom's friends would like buy us one and bring it over. My mom would just cry because of where she was at in the world. And it was kind of like, you know, my dad left us, my mom got nothing in child support. It was the eighties and my mom didn't have a good lawyer and my dad did. And so a lot of stuff was made that wasn't fair towards her. And the message I got was like, you know, don't ever let anybody say they can support you because, you know, at the end of the day, you can only support yourself. It's not like I sadly take that to heart, but I never felt like being a stay-at-home mom was a thing that I could ever do. It's not because of anything John has done or said, but it's just mostly like, well, I'm always going to have to make my own money. You never know what's going to happen. Luckily, I'm in a good position in that way. It's like when I was growing up, academics weren't encouraged or pushed on me. I wasn't given the encouragement or the inspiration to go to college. My mom didn't go to college, and my dad didn't think that girls needed to be educated, which. Which is cool, like a lot of gross cultural machismo that's like, you know, I don't know. My mom kind of saw it as like, you can go if you want to amass that kind of debt. You can probably get a job and support yourself. And she's not wrong. I could wait tables forever. I love waiting tables. I'm really good at it, but it's very physically difficult too. Anyway, once I got to college, I had to find my own encouragement because I was a very average student for half of high school. And then when I was in my sophomore year or so, I kind of fell in with this group of high-achieving cool girls, which was one of the luckiest things I feel like ever happened to me, because, they made good grades and taking AP classes cool in my mind. Being smart was cool, and it made me realize there was a world outside of Burke High School, and I could go to other places in Omaha. We'd hang out at the Perkins and the Village Inn and drink coffee with all the other rejects from all the other high schools. We got really into beat poetry and sketch comedy and really into the kids in the hall. Conan O'Brien was super cool to us. We sought out cool things. I had to find my own walls of encouragement. Once I figured this out, I got into college and I moved to Chicago to go to DePaul. I came here and I got my dumb degree in art history and English, but I was a great student. I was in the Dean's Lists every single quarter, and my mom would take my report cards and she would send them to the same Omaha World Herald that 40 years earlier had said wonderful things about my grandpa. And it would always be posted like, Mary Niecy, Burke High School, Class of 93, Dean's List. And she was proud of me. She really was. But all this is to say, it was not until I read the article that I realized that I had the business acumen in my blood, in my family. And it was like the path I took, like going to college and I never knew anyone was an entrepreneur. I didn't have any friends that had started their own business. But then I read this article and I realized that I had business acumen in my blood. And when I would question why my business worked out, I would say that I got lucky, like, I'm just lucky. I don't know why this is working. I kind of blamed it all on luck. Basically, like I really thought that I just was like the product of luck with my business and that when. I started this business, it's like, well, I know a lot about music, so of course it makes it easy for me to understand what clients want. And, you know, I'm the kind of person who figures everything out, like I can figure anything out. If you give it to me long enough, I'll figure it out. And of course, I'll figure out DJ equipment because it just was sort of like, oh, I've got all these skills. And they all kind of came together in this random gestalt. And I don't know why it worked. But really, it was because I have it in me. I had entrepreneurial acumen in me. It's like a Cicero or Seneca that says that luck is preparation and opportunity coming together. And... That's really what it is. I worked hard and so did my grandpa. I guess I was thinking it as luck as being like almost like pejorative like I just got lucky but really I did get lucky because I had opportunity and preparedness coming together but also I had the wind in my sails at my back you, know from my grandpa kind of pushing me through and showing me that this was going to work and it did. I do feel pretty good about this episode and I hope that this is enough information to to carve it into something. And also, once again, to remind everybody that I would love to hear from you. If you wanna go to my All Up In My Lady Business website, click on All Up In Your Lady Business, which is on a little tab on the right side of the page in green. Click there, leave me a voicemail. And I can't wait to hear what you have to say. Thanks for listening to All Up In My Lady Business, a podcast from a Mary Nisi production. It is written by me, Mary Nisi. It is edited by Amelia Ruby with Softer Sounds. It is recorded at the Toast & Jam offices in Logan Square in Chicago, Illinois. And it is also sometimes recorded in the attic of my house in Evanston. You can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at all up in And if you enjoyed this episode, and you did, smash that subscribe button and send it to somebody ass could be a whole lot holer. Oh, and also if you're the kind of person that reviews things on the internet, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. It really does help people find the show. And don't forget, whatever you do this week, do it with your whole ass. Thanks, Thanks for listening. Music.