Deanna Kuempel Embrace The Struggle


Deanna Kuempel is a serial entrepreneur who has owned several successful businesses both by herself and with her late husband. She has faced several bricks from being a victim of domestic violence and human trafficking. To losing her husband and having to start over. To the successful podcast host with a job she loves and a fiancee. Her story reminds us that we must keep going when times get tough. She reminds us not to dread the inevitable able struggles in life but embrace them.

Show notes:

Episode Transcription

Intro Plays



Ari: Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun. I’m your host. My guest today is Deanna Campell. Deanna was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. Prior to meeting her husband, she had a small event planning business, and offered Personal Training Services. Later on, she was vice president of key accounts and business operations for a $20 million transmission remanufacturing facility with 150 employees, while simultaneously managing for other entities for 10 years. In 2016, she was forced to start over, she always had a passion for fashion and so she engaged a design company out of Soho, New York, and founded the Deanna Marie label in 2017. Deanna was on the runway in Rhode Island at style week, and was a finalist for stylish Chicago for the Cadillac designs challenge. She subsequently rolled out a skincare line in conjunction with our label, and still successfully as a steady client base with that to this day. In 2019, Deanna started a podcast, Deanna started a podcast, Deanna had overcome much abuse and trauma. And so she decided on the name label free, with the help of her best friend, Julie Brian, Deanna truly lives her life, free of any kind of labels. She focuses on talking to mainly entrepreneurs that are living life on their own terms, and can offer insight or and wisdom for the audience. Her podcast is currently in the top 2% globally, on several platforms, she is streaming on 15, audio platforms and YouTube. Please help me welcome Deanna Campell.

Deanna: Thank you, Ari for having me as a guest today, sorry about the stupid talk in the background. And we just hit New. And so that’s just my that’s what the opener for me today.

Ari: There you go. It’s a beautiful thing. So how are you doing?

Deanna: I’m doing great. Thank you for the generous introduction and the recap of my life so far. Yeah, it’s always it’s always it’s taken me a while to actually get to a proper bio, because it’s very challenging to self promote. And to put that together, because I feel if you’re a humble person, it’s, you don’t really don’t acknowledge all of your successes.

Ari: I hear you. But you know what, as somebody once said to me, if you don’t toot your own horn, who will? So that’s what we got to do. That’s what we have to do. Yeah, so I’ve got some interesting questions. But as you know, the name of the podcast is whispers and bricks, and the whispers of those voices telling us what the right thing to do is, and they represent the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. And we all know life is not a straight line, there are many ups and downs and many bumps in the road. There are bricks out there that we get hit with some bigger bricks, some smaller bricks, some more bricks have less bricks, but at the end of the day, you know, everybody goes through something. Now, you seem to have had a very successful career Early on, like from the event planning business, personal training, to VP of transmission, manufacturing remanufacturing business for other entities. Can you tell us a little bit about what life was like back then? Like, how old were you when all this started? And you know what was going on?

Deanna: Um, so I was with my late husband for about 17 years before he passed. You know, obviously, we dated for a few years before we got married. But I was involved in the business in his business, probably like around 2000. And let’s see her six maybe, I know, maybe earlier than that. It’s hard to recollect but for you know, for over 10 years, we had he had a remanufacturing business for transmissions we serviced like all the blue chip clients, customers like FedEx ups, you know, the yellow school buses all over the nation and in Canada, waste haulers, you know, here in US and Canada. So we had a very good customer base. We did do some dealers, like the Cat Dealers, International Truck dealers, things of that nature. But I started out you know, he, he kind of fought me a little bit when I wanted to start with the company. And I was just like, well, this is my life, too. I want I’m gonna get involved. So I’m like, I’ll go to the first meeting, because he had to, he had to start over. He had one business for, I think over 20 years. And then when 2008 came when the economy crashed, he lost that business. The bank had actually pulled alone, we ended up losing like $10 million. And then we had to restart. And there was a lot of things that I had known after committing my committing my life to Him. And so I was like, No, I’m gonna be there for the for the first meeting when we restart, then we were up until like three o’clock in the morning fighting because I was like, I’m no, I’m going to be there. I’m like, I’ll just sit there, I’ll be quiet. And I’ll just observe. And so, you know, as we started rebuilding, and I started getting more involved in the business, he was like, I completely underestimated or you underestimated yourself. Yeah, you did. So I, it became very apparent that I was a natural leader. And I started taking a lot of things over to make the business successful, as well as a lot of our other businesses. And we had started in installation arm to unite, you know, I pushed that, and I was the driver behind that as well. So it was, it was fun. I look back now it was hard, because we had we were, we had lost $10 million. And to rebuild out that was a struggle, not gonna lie, but to have gotten through it. And to reach some of the success milestones in my career with him. I look back and like, holy crap, I did that, you know, in the moment, I’m just, I’m just going, just going. And so I learned a lot. Manufacturing is not something I really enjoyed to be in. I’m not a car person. So it wasn’t sexy to me. You know, I was not interested in the talk about the solenoids, and all this crazy stuff. I’m like, the gears and I don’t know that it wasn’t my thing. I was strong in the operations. I was strong with customer or customer and supplier relationships, very involved in almost every aspect of the hiring, firing. And, you know, just all of that. So I had a lot of experience for about 10 years until he passed.

Ari: So So let me ask you this. Like, when did you meet your husband?

Deanna: We met at the gym. So yeah, we met at the gym. So one of my girlfriends knew him. She came in to visit me there. He saw her. And I had actually had asked to meet me and I I was not interested because I just gotten out of a very abusive relationship. And I needed to just declare clear all that baggage because I couldn’t sustain another relationship like that. So I probably he probably came, pursued pursued me for about six months.

Ari: Oh, wow. Okay, so you just mentioned something that I did not really know about. Something about a bad relationship, abusive and trauma, basically, that’s why you came up with the name free label phrase label free. Right. Well, what was that all about? I don’t know anything about that?


Deanna: Um, well, I mean, we all have a past some of our pasts are better than others. You know, I had I grew up in with, you know, I had strong family values from my mom’s side, and my dad was he’s got a chemical imbalance. He’s not okay. He’s not all there. He was a deadbeat father, you know, I’m the oldest of five. So I have four siblings. He ended up skipping out on us when I was like 15 years old, and never pay child support. But I perpetuated the vicious cycle that I saw at home because he was very abusive to my mother and to myself, I had ended up calling the police on him and about 15 and got him removed from the house. And that’s when my mom finally filed for divorce. But unfortunately, because of my experience, I got into the relationships that were very abusive. And you know, I ended up being a survivor of human trafficking. So I survived that. The last when I said I couldn’t do another abusive relationship. He had actually abducted me one night or one day we’re going to skydiving drove out to Middlefield stabbed me in the arm, I have a scar on my eye from him beating me up. Luckily, I fought him off and I was able to get out of out of the car. And he, he I got back home, and I survived that. And so that was when I was just like, no more, I can’t do it. I cannot keep living in this bad cycle. And you know, I wanted a better life for myself. So So yeah, that was the point of, you know, drastic change for me. And I got into counseling and I just completely got myself out of that whole lifestyle and in created a different life.

Ari: Wow, wow. I’m gonna say this, and I know you know, this, okay, but you’re not alone. Oh, I know.

Deanna: Okay. All right. I’ve been I’ve actually interviewed a bunch of people who have gone through exactly what you have gone through, you know, at different stages of their lives. So when they were kids, some of them were middle aged, some of they were older. So, you know, again, my hat’s off to you that you you know, you took a stand you did what you needed to do in order to get your life back in shape. And that’s, you know, again, my hat’s off to you. Congrats on that. Okay, so then you met So you met your husband, you were a little skeptical there because of the because As of your past, okay, well when you over

the persistence, he was very persistent. Yeah. Although in the beginning, after I finally gave him a chance, he was not innocent either. And, you know, we went through a very rocky period to where to where I finally was, I would open myself up completely to Him and pursue that, because he was a big steroid person. He’s a big bodybuilder, you know, basically a steroid addict. And that’s, that’s what ended up killing him. Ultimately, he needed his he needed his third kidney transplant and had he had a had open heart surgery. Towards the end, it started out he was in the hospital once a month than it was every week than it was at the end. He was he died there, because he had he had been there for over 30 days. And his body was just so toxic. And that’s what really killed him. Because he, you know, he didn’t take care of himself. Even when I was administering dialysis, he was still injecting steroids. He thought like that was, you know, that was going to help him. So that was not fun.

Ari: Wow. So you got hit with a brick early on. In the in the bad relationship, you’re in your family life. You know, your life kind of turns around, you meet this guy, and he’s, you know, he’s great. And then all of a sudden, he’s not so great. And then he is good. And then all of a sudden, you know, he gets he gets sick. And wow, and then, you know, he passes on, and how long have you been married? At that point? Did you say 17 years?


Deanna: We were together? 17 years, I honestly was not in any hurry to get married? I’ll be honest with you. Yeah, he bothered me. He bothered me for a while to set a date. And I mean, probably for a couple of years. I was engaged for quite a while. But we’re married for I think, seven of those 17 years. So we dated for almost 10 years.


Ari: Wow. Now, you mentioned I think I mentioned in your in your bio that in 2016, you had to start over? What was? What was that? Because you mentioned 2008 your business when you know, the business went belly up. And during the crash, what was going on in 2016?


Deanna: He passed away in January 7, I believe it was January 7 2016.

Ari: And so Wow, get hit with that brick. So I guess so what did you do at that point? I mean, you know, well, I

Deanna: was in survival mode. So the you know, the typical story where you have money, I was living in the mansion, he had the Ferrari had the Mercedes, all that stuff. Were you know, he had kids from a previous marriage, they all came in, they wanted, they were trying to evict me out of my home, they were trying to make me leave with none of my belongings. And essentially, they kicked me out of the business, all the businesses plural. And so I ended up you know, I ended up agreeing to leave because I had owned a townhouse prior to getting married, and I held on to it, luckily. So I ended up negotiating my time to leave. And I moved out of the house taking what I had purchased with him and my stuff, which was very difficult to do, because they were trying to make me leave with nothing. And we lived in, we lived in a gated gated community, so no one could come in and see me like I had to have people I had to go pick them up and bring them in, or they would jump the fence to come to come see me and come like help me out with stuff. So like I had to go jump into the tow truck to tow truck driver or not tow truck, the movers truck to come in grab, like move my stuff out of the house, it was a very, it was a very intense traumatic time. And you know, luckily I was able to, you know, all this stuff is just part of our story. You know, it’s a part of our journey, it really molds us into you, we can decide, are we going to be a better person? Are we going to make better choices for our lives that make make everything better? Or are we going to continue down this destructive path and keep keep attracting things that are going to keep us in this vicious cycle. So luckily, I moved out, I got to start over. I use a lot of the resources out there that mean there’s tons of resources out there for anyone that’s struggling. I had gotten some help on my mortgage at my townhouse. And you know that I didn’t have to pay my mortgage for like two years. Thank God, you know, unfortunately, I did have to go the food pantry because I was below poverty. I had no money and I had to keep my lights on. And it was just, you know, my mom had given me a car because they took my car for me, you know, cuz he bought me a Mercedes that was not in my name. And I shouldn’t I didn’t think about it at the time. But it was a gift to me. That was my car. But they heard the terms of the estate. That was the title, the title was in his name, and they were able to take it confiscated and do whatever they had to do with it. You know, I had a motorcycle too. I had my own motorcycle, but that because my name wasn’t on the title. They were able to take that. However, luckily my name was on a lot on all the businesses so I had interest in all the businesses and they had to basically buy me out. You know, I mean that that was a pain in the butt to negotiate. But, I mean, ultimately, we ended up winning some thing, you know, at the end of the day, and it was rough, I had to hire like three attorneys, I was gonna create three different things just for that whole, like that whole situation. Luckily, I was smart enough to do that, because the one didn’t know what to do. And I’m like, Well, I’m not going to, I’m not going to settle, you know, I deserve something. So I had to go and use my resources and find another one. And it was a, it was an intense time period. But you know, I, you know, I’m resilient, and I’m smart. So I was able to, you know, I got a new job wasn’t the best, but I think when you’re starting over, you’re gonna get more of a menial job, you know, and it was it worked for where I was at, at the time, because Emotionally, I wasn’t very stable. And, you know, I had actually hadn’t worked for anybody since I was 16. So I went from being a complete entrepreneur for 20 years of my life, to having to work for someone that was a very rough adjustment, that was very difficult. That is very difficult.


Ari: I can imagine, I can imagine, let me ask you this. Did you ever reach a point in your life where you, you know, like, it was, it was so low that you went like, you know what, I can’t do this anymore. I’m giving up you know, I’m, I’m giving up on my dreams, I don’t care. You know, I’m just gonna, you know, roll up into a little ball and die. Right? Or, but if you did reach that point, and I know many people do even without, you know, the things that that seemed very, very difficult. But if you did get to that point, how did you get yourself out of it? You’re obviously you did, because you’re a functioning human being and you’ve got business and you’ve got, you know, you’re doing everything. Right. So how do you tell us a little bit about that.

Deanna: So I think I’m very strong, you know, and sometimes I’m able to cut off my emotions and just be a little numb, which is probably to my benefit in a lot of ways. And I had a lot of people ask me that, after all that had transpired, and everything was going through legally, and just, you know, just losing that whole lifestyle be completely like float, like, just tear me down to the, to the ground. I think that there were moments when I did think like that, that I just want to give up, but my personality, you know, you I just when I when I have a bad emotion, I allow myself to feel it, but then I let it go. I think that’s one thing that a lot of people that get caught up in all that don’t know how to do, they haven’t taught themselves how to do that. They get caught up in that and they, they just get comfortable in that misery. And in that, in that sadness, I’m not comfortable there. I’m a very happy person. I’m very bubbly. I like to I’m very going, I want to achieve things. I’m driven. So I would let that I would feel that emotion. I’d get mad or whatever I had to do and then I would let it go. And then the next day, tomorrow’s a new day love what can we do tomorrow? And I just kept going, you know, what are you gonna do? You just gotta let sit there in the corner and not do anything. Are you gonna end up in a hospital somewhere? rocking back and forth? No, that’s not an option for me. I’m sorry. Like, I have a big life to live and I’m going to do I have goals. I have dreams. And you know, you can’t get caught up in that and those terrible emotions because feelings aren’t facts. Right? The The fact is that you’re still alive. The fact is, you’re unhealthy that in the fact is I have another chance another day to make my life better.

Ari: Wow. I don’t remember if I asked you do you have any children?

Deanna: I have no children. But I’m getting remarried. I’ve met an incredible man. Probably the best men I’ve ever, ever known. And we are planning on having starting a family. So


Ari: that is, that’s awesome. That is absolutely awesome. Nice guy.


Deanna: Very nice guy. Yes. He was like a police officer. So you know. Oh, wow. I bet you better watch out.

Ari: Oh, wow. No, my hat’s off to him. I am off to all, you know, police and firefighters in the life. I mean, these guys are the real heroes in our world today. All right there. It’s unbelievable. You please let him know that. My hat’s off to him. And I wish them only the best. And just from you know, from the just getting to know you. I know. I’m not really sure who’s getting the better part of that deal. But I think you’re I think you’re both getting the best of best of both worlds. That’s what I think. Let me ask you that half.

Deanna: I totally agree.

Ari: Yeah. Let me ask you this, who’s the one person that you would point to that you would say had the most influence in your life? And why?


Deanna: When at what point because there’s different influences at different points in my life. You know, obviously,

Ari: any point in time pick one

Deanna: I’d say in the most recent the last five years the one that’s had the most positive impact has been my my best friend Julie green Bryant, who is also my booking manager. She I met her at my second job after my life change and she is incredibly intelligent woman. And she looks at things very differently and the way she communicates I’ve learned a lot from her. And she’s just kind of gone through this whole rebuilding journey with me and she’s seen me at my ups and downs, you know, along the way, and to where I’m at today and she’s been a very Major grounding force for me, and then kind of helps me look at things, you know, because I can get pretty worked up. I’m very,

I’m pretty intense chi I never would have known.

Deanna: So, you know, I love to turn to her because she helps ground me and like, helps me like, stay calm and look at things differently. Or, you know, I used to have a tendency to kind of flip my flip my lead, and I don’t do that anymore. And I’d say I owe a lot of that to her.

Ari: Oh, wow. Okay, that’s great. What does she do?

Deanna: Well, she actually she stays at home. She takes care of her mother in law. But she does. She’s my booking manager for the podcast. So she, she loves it. Yeah.


Ari: Wow. Okay, that’s great. That’s great. So let me ask you this, before we go is do you have any words of advice, words of advice, or words of wisdom for my audience, you know, because again, the reason I do this podcast is because I know that there are people in my audience that are going through some of the things, some of the same things that you’re going through. And, you know, sometimes they lose hope. And I enjoy having people like you on my show, because you’re the type of person who can give hope. So what kind of words of wisdom to the I have my audience out there?

Deanna: You know, I learned, I learned to embrace the struggle, because it during that time is, you know, like how, you know, Cole turns into a diamond. And you’re getting all that pressure and pressure and pressure until it turns into a precious stone, your experiences, the struggles that you go through is actually putting that pressure on you to turn you into a beautiful diamond. Or if you want to look at it as going into a cocoon and turning into a butterfly, embracing the struggles where you’re going to learn the most valuable lessons and become a better version of yourself. Instead of the Woe is me. Oh, I feel sorry for myself, why is it happening to me? Instead, say, You know what, there’s a reason why I’m going through this right now. This is just a part of my journey. And God has given me gifts to take forward in my life so that I could possibly be, you know, a ray of sunshine for someone else. So that’s the best advice I can say is because when you get to that place, and you just embrace it, you know, miracles start to happen in your life turns around, and you can view things so much differently.

Ari: Wow, you’re obviously a believer in God. Which is great. Do you consider yourself a religious person?

Deanna: I’m not overly religious, you know, I don’t go to church every you know, every Sunday. I you know, I do read the Bible. I do pray, you know, but yeah, I’m a religious person. It’s I think it’s very important to have to have God in your life, you know, who are whatever religion that might be for people out there. But I feel that having spirituality is very important to important to having a healthy, you know, Outlook.

Ari: I look, I agree with you, 100%. I mean, I’m an Orthodox Jew. All right. And my religion is what’s the is the thing that keeps me grounded, for the most part. All right, and it helps me through all the, you know, the issues that that I’ve gone through in my life. Yeah, so that’s great. So what exactly are you doing right now?

Deanna: Right now in my life professionally, or? Yeah,


Ari: yeah. And you’re in your life right now. I don’t mean sitting there talking to me. I know you’re doing that right now.

Deanna: So I’m a Business Development Manager for IT people network. We are an IT consulting and advisory company we do we work with Fortune 500 companies globally. I’m also a podcast host for a label free podcast. So that’s, both of those things take up all my time. You know, and I’m also you know, fiance, so it’d be, you know, wife and a mother soon. So yeah, my plate is full.

Ari: Wow, that’s great. Deanna, I gotta tell you, Oh, if people want to get in touch with you, how would they? How can they do that? You have a website, you have email, you know, what’s the best way for them to contact you? If they want advice they want you know, they just want to talk to somebody, they need some help.

Deanna: Yes, I would love to reach out to me Do not hesitate. I’m not shy. I embrace everyone that comes my way is labeled free Or I’m on Facebook, Instagram label free podcast, or my personal handle Deanna Campbell, which that will be changing soon. But you know, that’ll redirect regardless. And I’m on LinkedIn. So you can label free podcasts on LinkedIn, or Deanna Campbell as well. So connect with me reach out with me reach out to me. I would love to talk to anyone and everyone

Ari: right now. Just so my audience knows. Deanna is D A N N A? Campbell que UEMPEL Correct. That is correct. Wonderful. Okay, so that’s great. Deanna. Thanks so much for sharing your story with me and my audience, or good luck going forward. It’s except you’re, you’re entering an exciting time in your life. I know that. Okay, I can see you the smile just radiates. All right. I’m so happy for you. And I wish you only the best. Thanks so much for coming on my show. I really appreciate it and so does my audience. Thank you so much. Sorry. You been listening to his prison breaks and I’m your host Irish showman. Roman. Remember, if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time and your career, your business or your life, if you know you’re not enjoying all the success, satisfaction and significance that you desire, then it’s time for you to book a call with me at www dot call with Check out my whispers and bricks, Coaching Academy, and until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the breaks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.