Sharelle Rosado has made a career out of trusting her gut.
The 33-year-old launched her real estate company, Allure Realty, in Tampa, Fl., in 2019 after retiring from the military. Soon, she was courting offers from reality TV producers about a potential show built around her firm.
Though the prospect of starring in a show was appealing, she worried that she and her agents at Allure, all of whom are women of color, would be portrayed as catty and materialistic, rather than as hard-working and outspoken entrepreneurs. "I didn't want to be stereotyped," Rosado says.
Instead of settling for the first offer, she decided to Twitter message a producer of the popular Netflix series Selling Sunset, which follows a team of luxury real estate agents in Los Angeles.
The producers, knowing the luxury waterfront market would be appealing to viewers, were sold. Ahead of the premiere of the new Netflix show, Selling Tampa, on Dec. 15, here's a look at Rosado's path from teenaged motherhood to founding her own luxury real estate firm.
Rosado grew up in a small town in Alabama with her mother and two siblings. Though her mother worked hard to set a good example for her children, Rosado said it was difficult for her to make ends meet.
"I appreciated everything that my mom did, but I didn't want to have my kids see me struggle," she tells CNBC Make It. Things seemed to be going as planned: Always fiercely competitive, Rosado was able to secure a track scholarship to the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
But then Rosado became pregnant during her senior year of high school, and lost her scholarship. She admits to feeling like she was falling behind, and she became determined to provide a better life for her children.
After giving birth to her oldest daughter, she joined the U.S. Army in 2007 at 19, believing it could provide the stable paycheck and benefits she craved.
In the military, Rosado learned the basics of money management and was able to buy her first house at 22. She was active duty for nearly 13 years, including two deployments to Afghanistan.
Eventually, though, the Army began to wear on her. When she thought about what she would pursue after her military career, she remembered that the broker who sold her her first home said she had the right personality to be a real estate agent. She started working part-time as an agent in 2017 while still in the Army and soon was making enough from her side gig to feel comfortable turning it into a full-time career.
Rosado retired from the military in 2019 after facing sexual assault and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. That same year, she opened Allure Realty and began recruiting agents from around the Tampa Bay area.
"I didn't know what the hell I was doing," she jokes. "But I knew I wanted to be my own boss."
There have been some growing pains over the past two years. Rosado says the biggest lesson she's learned is that she can't do everything on her own: Hiring an accountant to "make sure the money is right" is one of the best decisions she's made as a business owner, she says.
Still, the move has paid off. The brokerage has proved successful enough that she has expanded to Miami and soon Charlotte, North Carolina. As she awaits the premiere of her show and reflects on the life she's built for herself and her children, she says she "never thought in a million years that this would happen."
"I'm just blessed. I had to sacrifice a lot, I lost a lot of time," she says. "But the end goal is what I was aiming for: Making sure they had the best life."