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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Melanie Shaw: The Five Question Interview

Melanie Shaw is maker/owner at Melanie Shaw Cermaics. Her favorite themes are floral and leaf patterns, space travel, comic figures, and occasional monsters. She is also owner of Art Off Center, a ceramics teaching studio in nearby Taylor, Texas.

Her Oklahoma grandmother taught Melanie and her siblings to crochet, knit, embroider, bead, and sew. She recalls stitching strips of cloth onto newspaper squares to start some simple blocks for quilts that they all went home with at the end of summer. She find myself using all these skills with her applied art pieces.

1. Why did you move to the Bastrop area? 

We decided to move to Texas in 2014 from Brooklyn; my daughter and family moved to east Texas a couple years before we did. Hubs is in the music business, so we basically moved down and just started looking for houses that suited our purposes in and around Austin. Having always lived in really busy and noisy neighborhoods in New York and Brooklyn, the house in Bastrop checked a lot of boxes. The neighborhood is lovely, quiet and we both had enough room in the house and yard to set up individual studios and still be close enough to Austin to travel in for shows, etc. 

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I teach pottery at my commercial studio, Art Off Center (www.artoffcenter.com) in Taylor, so I’m often looking for new items to push my skill levels and additionally for items that are fun to teach. I have a mental list of items to make, so making and creating have become a part of my everyday life. I’ve learned that once the floodgate was opened to creating it’s become a complete love of craft.

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

I’ve learned a lot over the past five years, especially after buying Art Off Center three years ago. I’ve learned how to craft a website that works for a small business. In the same regard, I’m still learning about marketing and public messaging. For me it’s all about how the studio fits into the local community and how the community has taught me how to engage.  We “volunteer” to help where and when we (I’m referring to myself and the fellow artists at Art Off Center) can for various purposes.

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

I’ve usually got a few projects in progress, so I’m currently working on making items that are meant for a wholesale line. Hubs and I have been trying to avoid the news lately, so we’ve been watching a lot of “making” shows, like the “Repair Shop” or just dive off into sci-fi style shows like “Mandalorian”.  I’m a news junkie, so I listen to NPR and various news shows on my work days back and forth from Bastrop to Taylor. And for books, I’ve been listening to audible books by Ta-Nehisi Coates and James Baldwin and have the occasional new release books from my favorite pottery authors too.

5. Cake or Pie?

I’m definitely a pie person, I’m terrible at making pies, but I just love the filling versus the lovely crunch of the pie crust. I’m a huge fan of tart versus sweet, so Key lime pie is my favorite pies. One of the local Taylor chefs recently started a great online pie service with delivery, Flake Bakery and Larder, so I ordered her great pies for the holidays and supporting local business at the same time! Win, win!

Instagram @melanieshawceramics
Esty Shop

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