Kryshon Bratton is proof of the life-transforming power of persistence, enterprise and ingenuity.
Born in Houston in 1978 to an Indian immigrant father and a professional ballet dancer mother, her family of five hit hard times during a downturn in the 1980s. Her father’s Volvo dealership failed, their home was foreclosed and they filed for bankruptcy. Her parents, whose mixed marriage also faced criticism, ultimately divorced.
To make ends meet, her mother worked three jobs, including the graveyard shift at Jack-in-the Box. They had no permanent home and bounced between friends and relatives. At times, they slept in the car. Bratton went to six different elementary schools.
“It was a lot of years where you would go to school and not know if when you go home you’ll be told we’re leaving,” Bratton says. “But through that I am strong.”
By age 17, she was living on her own. She payed her way through college at the University of Houston by selling cars like her father. At 21, she married a man 11 years her senior, Michael Bratton, who had a lifeguarding business. Five years later, while pregnant with their second daughter and working long hours with her husband, she saw an opportunity to better her family’s situation.
Michael’s lifeguarding business had started to do a bit of pool-maintenance work. “I saw that if we were to get rid of the lifeguarding, and we created a repair, maintenance company,… it could go,” she says. “I went ahead, and contacted all of the agencies I needed to contact, contacted the attorney, contacted the accountant and said ‘this is what we’re doing.’ And so Michael came home one day, and I said, ‘it’s done, it’s here.’”
Since its founding in 2006, Bratton Pools has moved from commercial-pool maintenance into residential-pool maintenance and construction, where the margins are better. This year, after commercial clients started inquiring about parking lots, Bratton started a new business unit named Piper Whitney Construction, after her two daughters, to lay down eco-friendly parking lots using a material called TrueGrid.
Today, the two businesses, which are entirely owned by Kryshon, employ 10 people and bring in $2 million in annual revenue. She handles the clients and contracts and runs the company, while her husband works with subcontractors and project manages at construction sites.
“What it has blossomed and grown into is tremendous,” she says. “I want [my daughters] to see not just the family life advantage — something I didn’t have — but that the world is really open to you and all that you do.”
Why do you deserve to be on the Power List?
“I am living a life as a business owner, wife and mother, and it’s a life better than I ever thought I would have.”