Teri Williams: The Five Question Interview

Teri Williams is owner of The Melanated Apothecary in downtown Elgin. She is a modern day apothecary, esthetician, herbalist, yoga instructor, personal trainer, nutrition coach, and mother.

1. Why did you move to Taylor? 

I did live in Elgin a few years ago, but moved back to Taylor. Taylor has always been home for me. My family is here, my aunt and uncle are here. My family is pretty big, but my immediate family is small. So when I got pregnant in 2014 I knew I wanted to raise my son here close to family. Plus I love the feel of small towns. Everyone knowing everyone, the community organization, and the love and support when something happens. I watched the Taylor community, and the Elgin community, come together in a huge way! It made me love the reason why I chose to come back, and don’t have any plans on leaving.

2.  What compelled you to create a business in Elgin?

At the end of 2019 (or beginning of 2020) I had a phone conversation with a friend. I told her that if I completed both my esthetics training and herbalism training, which were both happening in 2020, that I would open up a business, somehow someway. In October of 2020 I saw a post for a room for rent in Elgin, which later turned into a partnership with 12 Star Massage! I have always admired how the Elgin business community comes together, and just wanted to be part of that type of energy! So, when the opportunity came available it was a no-brainer for me. I can’t wait to feel that business magic that Elgin possesses.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I don’t think we have space on here or time to share all of it!

The first thing is gratitude! There were a lot of things made possible for me because of family and friends, and I can’t thank them enough. I’m forever grateful for my family and my friends that have stepped up in a big way over the past 5 years. From helping me with my son who’s 5 to helping me with school, donating clothes, money, and time to help make our (I say our because Julius my son is a huge part of who I am why I work so hard to be successful.) dreams come true.  

Patience is second. I don’t have a lot of it, and often times I find myself getting short beacause I’m looking for instant results! So learning how to be patient is huge!

The last but sure not least is self-care & meditation. They both go hand in hand. I had a health scare in 2013 (which lead me on this path of health and wellness) because I wasn’t taking care of myself. So I make it a point to take time for myself, meditate, and move energy around when I’m feeling stuck. You can’t pour from an empty cup so taking care of myself first is important for me.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

EVERYTHING! I’m currently making The Melanated Apothecary a true to life business. I’m making teas, soaps, bath Bombs, labels, glitter cups, body oils, body butters, herbal tinctures, herbal vinegars. Everything!

I’m reading all things herbal and skin related. Watching a lot of Discovery+… you can’t tell me I can’t remodel a house! LOL!!!

I’m listening to Life after Death it’s a sequel to a book called The Coldest Winter Ever by Sistah Souljah. It was one of the first books that I read when I started reading books written by African-American authors. I wanted to expand my reading horizons. My first author love was Mary Higgins Clark. Now I have many loves for different authors!

5. Cake or Pie?

I went to culinary school for baking and pastry! I love them both!!

Instagram @the_melanated_apothecary
Book an appointment www.vagaro.com/twelvestarmassage

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Amy Miley: The Five Question Interview

Amy Miley, Firewild; photo by Henry Moon

Amy Miley owns local favorite Firewild on Main with her husband Travis Mills. They made a big splash at the 2019 Hogeye Festival serving up roasted whole hog on Main Street. Since then Firewild has become the destination for brunch and special events. When Covid’s dining restrictions had us all staying home they created a Sunday Comfort Menu for locals to pre-order and pick up and reaheat for Sunday dinner. It didn’t take long for this family affair to become a mainstay in our historic downtown.

1. Why did you choose to open a business in Elgin?

I’ve had a connection to Elgin since 1990, as I made friends in college whose families were based here. When wondering “What Next” after living in NYC in the early 2000’s, my and my husband’s instinct was to get some land, an antidote to NYC’s loud, cramped hustle to eventually grow into with a family and a business. Elgin fit that bill. Flash forward to two years ago when it became clear that the next step for our growing Austin-based catering company was to find a professional kitchen to call our own. It was by chance one day, after catching lunch in Elgin with a friend, that we spied the For Lease sign at 201 N. Main Street. The space boasted a fully stocked commercial kitchen – which checked off a lot of boxes for us. And on top of that, we were drawn to the sweetness and opportunity of Main Street and Elgin’s bubbling vibe of creatives, entrepreneurs and community-minded leaders. It ended up being a “yes” for us on so many levels. 

2. What compelled you to create a catering company then open a restaurant? 

The catering has grown very organically over the last decade. It started as a side project focused solely on whole pig roasting — which is super random! But we fell in love with this niche way of serving slow food, using beautiful, pasture-raised, local hogs and being a part of all sorts of celebrations. About 5 years into it we made a clear choice to grow the business – taking the leap to “quit our day jobs” and focus on spreading our foodie love throughout Central Texas. The restaurant is another story! When we signed the lease, this huge cafe space that we couldn’t even imagine developing at the time since we were so busy with catering, was just an included bonus. Then Covid hit and completely wiped a super-busy year of catering off the calendar. The silver lining of 2020 for us was getting time to prioritize developing this new world of “bricks and mortar”. No one in their right mind would open a restaurant during a global pandemic, but despite all the fits and starts, it’s slowly starting to work. As things eventually settle back to a semblance of normalcy, we’re hoping Firewild On Main will be a destination, a retreat, a home-away-from home and a comfortable space for all of Elgin and beyond to enjoy. Cafe, bar, event space, marketplace, community resource — it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities!

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Keep showing up! Even when the world is topsy turvy and there’s no such thing as “making plans”, just SHOW UP and be ready to do your best.

See the best in people. We have so much to learn from each other and it’s easier to do that when we look for the goodness in one another.

Give yourself a break. Seriously, just do it. 

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I, like many on the planet, am hooked on the Great British Baking Show. It’s an addictive combination of British silliness, serious critique and the pain and pleasure of watching real people compete and strive to do their best.

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie. With a cake chaser 🙂

Firewild on Main
201 N. Main Street
Elgin, Texas 78621
(512) 573-3412


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Sarah Graham: The Five Question Interview

Sarah Graham is an educator, yoga teacher, herbalist, beekeeper, and gardening enthusiast. She owns SHAMBA Farm which is an acronym for Sustainable Homestead and Microclimate Based Agriculture. Her kitchen is the creative heart of her home. She sells her handmade herbal medicine, salves, eggs, honey, and fresh herbs at the Elgin Farmers’ Market, her website, and at various pop up markets in Elgin.

Sarah lives on her farm in a straw bale home (which she built herself) with her adorable daughters, some goats, chickens, and working dogs.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I had been looking at houses in Austin, and realized that I wanted more space. On the drive out to Elgin, I thought “this is 10 minutes too far”. But the moment I set foot on my land, I knew I had found my place. I bought it a couple of months later, built a house, and moved out here in August of 2009. I moved here for the small town feel and beautiful views. Elgin’s history is rooted in agriculture, and I wanted to be a part of the sustainable agriculture movement blossoming here. I had a gut feeling that I would find a community, and the one that I’ve found is more beautiful and supportive than I could have ever imagined.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

As a new mom, I was too exhausted to create, but as my daughter got older and she started coloring and painting, I realized how much fun it was to spend time making messes with her. I saw the value in creativity, and allowed myself to spend time creating and experimenting in the kitchen. During my divorce, I found that growing plants and using them in the kitchen for food and bath products gave me much needed creative expression. I’ve always dabbled in various crafts, such as sewing and beading, but the kitchen is my main creative space. It’s the heart of any home, and for me cooking and canning combine my background in science with a love of plants and fresh, flavorful food. Experimenting with new recipes for herbal concoctions keeps things exciting and my creativity fueled. I’m always growing new plants, so I get to try new ways of extracting their flavors and medicinal qualities. It helps me cultivate a deeper relationship with nature and an intimacy with my land, which is my ultimate goal. 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

1. We are human beings, not human doings. In other words, do less, and be more. Cultivating quiet space helps ideas and inspiration to flow.

2. Mistakes are learning opportunities. How can we learn if we don’t fail? Failure is an essential part of growth.

3. I honor my boundaries by truly considering opportunities before I say “yes” or no”. This allows me to fully commit to my obligations and not overload myself. It helps me avoid over-commitment.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I’ve been experimenting with soy candles lately which has been great fun! I’m planning for the new things I will grow in the spring and for my 50 fruit trees arriving this winter. I’ve got a couple of fun ideas to change up my market stand using materials found on my land. I always have more ideas than time! I recently listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast and it was incredibly inspirational. She’s all about cultivating creativity. Also, I am re-watching Game of Thrones (thanks COVID!). I find the fantasy so compelling, as it’s the creation of an entire world and really whisks me away.

5. Cake or Pie?

BOTH! Cake for birthdays, pies for holidays.Pie, because pie is love. And it goes better with vintage country music.

SHAMBA website www.shambatx.com
Instagram @shambafarm

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