Name: Malley Weber

Age: 51

Title: Owner

Business: Hallowell Clay Works, Hallowell

About: Weber offers community pottery classes and works with children and adults who are living with trauma through a technique called The Clay Field.


What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Trying to do everything. Trying to do it all. Currently, I am working on working on the business and not so much working in the business. I’m pulling back from the day-to-day operations and getting organized around the tasks that need to be completed, figuring out which ones I need to do, and which ones I need to hire someone else to do. I work on that probably from hours between midnight and 2 a.m. Honestly, it’s been hard.

The huge challenge is finding the time. I thought January would be the time for that, but I have been so busy making mugs and statues and sculptures and teaching and all of those things. It hasn’t been a weekly thing, because I just came through a big push. Now that I have, I am going to say I expect to be working on that for at least five hours a week. (It’s important because) I am not interested in the business running me. I want a life. I want to take days off. I want to find people I trust. I want to find my support network.

The business has been in operation for about 20 years in various forms but this recent location, I have been there for just over two years. I’ve had children, so there’s been an ebb and flow of how much time and energy I can put toward the business. The balance is not always 50-50. Sometimes its 90-10 and sometimes it’s the other way. I have expanded the business and I have shrunk the business depending on what’s going on with my family and children. I have been very lucky to do that.

Who has influenced you the most in having a business?

My father  owned a restaurant when I was a kid, and my aunt and uncle, Alicia and Ken McKellar, also ran their own business, a Burger King franchise in Portland. I have kind of grown up around it. I knew that it was different (from what other parents did).

There’s the business side and there’s the creative side. I feel like I’ve always had both of those things. My mom, Anne Weber, is an artist, a writer and a painter. My father, the late Bill Weber, was a restaurateur and chef — he was also very creative — at the Barbecue Beef and Brew in upstate New York. There was the mathematics of it, the bookkeeping and just the busy-ness of taking care of yourself around all that. I think that was steeped into how I was brought up.

I have worked for other people. I guess I am just queen of the universe. I guess I am a leader. I understand what it’s like to have another leader, have a boss. But ultimately I feel strongly about the way I work. And so, I think it’s just important to me to be the decision maker and to live by my values is important.

What’s your biggest concern right now?

I don’t have too many giant concerns, which is good I think. I guess security. I really want to get my business to a place where I own my own building. I rent now, but that to me feels like not enough stability. It’s enough for right now but moving toward the future, I really need to expand my space, and create some security for myself and for the business. I love my space. I have a great place in downtown Hallowell, but I don’t own that building.

This is part of working on the business, finding security.

What was your biggest misconception about being in business?

I think the first one was that if you own a business, it doesn’t mean you’re wealthy. I think people think that, like: “Oh, they have all the money in the world and they can afford that.” I think as an employee there is a misconception that you are definitely raking it in and you should definitely get a three-week vacation every year. That was probably 25 years ago I had that realization.

At the same time, thinking about this, I do take days off, but I don’t get paid if I do. That’s part of what I am trying to grow. I want to still take a day off and still have money coming in.

I do teach at the University of Maine at Augusta. They are my employers, but I have a lot of autonomy in that relationship, so it’s finding the right relationship.

Where will you be in five years?

I will have doubled my space. I will have my support team in place. And I will be more zeroed in on the work I am the best at. I will figure out how to share my responsibilities with my key people. And own my own building.

I will not shoot for less than what I need for my security.



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