Lauren Benson: The Five Question Interview

Lauren Benson, owner of Brigid’s Blessings Massage Therapy is trained in Swedish, sports, deep tissue, hot stone massage, aromatherapy, and other modalities.  Her interest in women’s health prompted her to begin her current training as a Postpartum Doula with Birthing Advocacy.

Lauren is passionate about organic gardening, horseback riding, and sustainable living and lives on a homestead outside of Elgin with her family and their dog, horses, and chickens.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

My husband and I moved to Elgin five and a half years ago after years of suburban living down the road in Hutto. I started gardening at our house there and that progressed to me bugging him for years about moving to a house with more land. In 2015 we made the decision to begin actively looking for acreage and our little log cabin on 5 acres here in Elgin was the first and only one we looked at before taking the plunge! I didn’t know much about Elgin prior to moving here, except that I passed through it on the way to Houston, but we have felt so welcomed by like minded folks we have met and hope to help the community grow and keep that small town feel as it grows. 

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

I have wanted to create a business of some sort in our town since moving here to offer something back to the town, but at the time was dependent on my salary from my day job. After starting our family and staying home, I began toying with different ideas and kept coming back to my training in massage therapy. After discussing my goals with my husband we decided that we could add a studio space here on our property and Brigid’s Blessings Massage Therapy was born in February 2021 (the studio was completed in May!). I hope to grow my business to include doula and child birth education services (I am training for my postpartum doula certification at the moment!) and expanding my massage modality trainings to offer a variety of healing and support services to our area. I’ve always wanted to be the wise woman in the woods from old fairy tales, so I just like to think I am in my early stage of that! 

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

I have learned SO much in the past five years, but to narrow them down to three would be:

1) how much resilience and hard work living in the country takes – between caring for animals, caring for a little one, and caring for the land breaks are rare! The winter storm this past February really hammered this one home.

2) how to become a better horsewoman – I dreamed of having horses my whole life and purchased my first ones two months after moving to our land, there is so much to learn and you can always do better with them!

3) how truly hard and rewarding parenthood is – one of the reasons I am drawn to postpartum doula work is because the postpartum period is such a hard and under-discussed period in a family’s life and I want to help make that transition smoother for people. It has been so exhausting to have a kiddo, but a big hug or hearing a happy giggle really brings you back to the rewards. 

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

Oh this is hard! I’m currently reading textbooks for my doula training, so I am in the middle of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines. I am not big on podcasts, so if I am listening to anything while I’m working in the yard or in the car its usually a local Austin band I love, Shane Smith & The Saints, or Turnpike Troubadours. 

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie (even though this one was tough!)

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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
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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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