hen 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
“It’s just like we’re having a chat on the couch,”
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 conversa-
tions?” 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
While they’re different—Rhonda likes to set goals
while Phylis prefers to wing it—the friends have had fun
“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-
“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
Before starting the podcast, Phylis and Rhonda studied
via how-to books and bought equipment before discover-
ing 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
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
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 cor-
porate 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 cor-
nerstone 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 com-
panion 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.
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN