Meet Allie! The Mom Behind The Painted Pig
This creative momma has been a staple in Little Rock for 15 years! Starting a new business during her last semester of college Allie has made a name for herself through ceramics! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about Allie and how she has incorporated her children into her business and overcame COVID closure obstacles!
Allie is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Little Rock in the first grade and has been here ever since. After attending UCA, Allie and her hubby chose to settle in Little Rock because its always been home. She has 3 children Lila (8), Maxwell (7), and Henry (3).
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I have been in the PYOP (Paint Your Own Pottery) industry since 2004, but the last job I had before that was working at The Gap.
Also, I married my high school sweetheart- our first date was prom. 🙂
Favorite things to do with your kid(s)?
Painting (of course!), reading, watching the kids play, and, currently, designing a modern Barbie doll house with my daughter.
Why did you decide to raise your family in Little Rock?
We love Little Rock. I opened The Painted Pig my very last semester of college at UCA, my husband had a job in Little Rock, and we both grew up here, so we had already planted roots before kids. We stay because we love it here and this is where family is. When I was growing up, our family all lived out of state, so I love that my kids get to be around their grandparents and all the time.
What’s your favorite thing about raising your family in Little Rock/Benton/Bryant area?
There are so many fun things to do here, and we love being part of a community that isn’t too big and isn’t too small either.
What’s your best mom hack that makes life easier?
Between virtual school and staying home much more over the past year, we struggled at first with what felt like a lot of extra screen time for the kids. Recently I tried out the Circle app, which connects to everyone’s devices to monitor how long they can be on them—which can be hard to keep track of myself when I’m also juggling custom painting deadlines or getting the youngest ready for bed. It’s been helpful for setting boundaries and then sticking to them.
What are your favorite things to do/places to eat in Little Rock/Benton/Bryant?
We love The Purple Cow, The Wonder Place, the Little Rock Zoo, and the libraries. If we can get a date night without kids, we typically pick sushi from Sushi Cafe or Ninja.
Self-care is so important as momma’s who give so much, what’s something you do just for yourself?
I honestly do not do enough self-care, being a bit of a work-a-holic, but I love going for a massage or pedicure when I can. Does a trip to Target alone count?
What’s something you can’t leave the house without?
Diet Dr. Pepper in a Yeti tumbler and my phone!
What is your least favorite mom job? (packing lunches, dishes, bath time, laundry….)
I hate doing the dishes! Our family of 5 generates so many dirty dishes. Also, my kids haven’t figured out where the trash can is located, so picking up trash constantly is another.
Tell us about your career outside of being a mom.
The Painted Pig has been involved in the Contemporary Ceramics Studio Association since 2008. Over the years, we’ve attended conferences all over the country where owners of studios gather to network, learn new painting techniques or DIY projects, and generally share ideas and get to know each other. I’ve made some really good friends who are studio owners in other states! In 2018 I was elected to be part of the CCSA’s board of directors. I have loved helping my industry grow and giving back to the industry association that has inspired me over the years.
What prompted you to start your own ceramics business?
In college I started working part-time at a paint-your-own-pottery studio called Young @ Art. I was an art major at UCA, so I had some kiln experience from my ceramics classes. About a year before I graduated, they were going to close, and my dad and I started talking—he’s always had the entrepreneurial bug—and we realized it could be an opportunity to start our own studio. We bought two kilns, tables and chairs, and some shelves from the closing studio and opened The Painted Pig my last semester of college. I knew the pottery side but absolutely nothing about running a business! My dad, Steve Maxwell, started his own engineering sales company after college, and that as well as knowing I would have his support as owner is what inspired me to go for it. Over the almost 15 years we’ve been working together, we’ve both learned a ton. I’ve learned how to train and manage a staff, how to balance supply and demand of our products, and how to effectively market our studio, along with the million other things that go into keeping a small business running. My dad is an incredibly hands-on owner, and you can often catch him around the studio fixing things or even ringing up customers or cleaning palettes, especially around the holidays. My sister has worked for us, and my mom, husband, and now kids have even learned how to help match pottery. It’s truly a family business, and we love it!
How has the Little Rock/Benton/Bryant community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Little Rock and even the surrounding metro community has been so supportive over the years. We have watched many of our customers grow up—we helped get their footprints on pottery when they were babies, then hosted their birthday parties when they were kids, and now we see them come in on their own with friends as teenagers. We would not have made it through the pandemic without their support.
How has being a momma yourself shaped you as a business owner?
Being a studio owner before kids was fun, but once I had kids, I had a whole new set of experiences I was inspired by. Whether it was a Firetruck Camp where Joey the Firetruck came and gave everyone rides after painting a firetruck bank, or a Frozen-themed event complete with visits from dressed-up princesses, or custom design ideas that I think up on a whim, my kids and their interests are always helping me come up with new classes, events, and pottery shapes kids will want to see on the shelves to paint. My 7-year-old even comes to me with new ideas for custom handprints when he thinks of them. These days, I run all my summer camp ideas by my oldest two kids to see if they are “epic” enough- ha!
What’s your favorite part about being a business owner?
My favorite part is the creative side, of course. I love being able to come up with new ideas for displays and classes- and put them into action. I also love the industry I’m in, which I think is important for anyone running a small business. It’s so special to be a part of helping people make memories, whether it’s handprints on pottery or customers creating pieces together. We have expanded over the years to offer more than pottery—projects like mosaics, glass fusion, door hangers, and more. We have grown our summer art camps to be sell-out classes. We offer clay impressions that are popular for new babies as well as a whole array of custom pottery that keeps me and the other artists quite busy. Most importantly, we offer a place to create functional pieces of art in a way that’s so easy, anyone can do it.
How do you balance being a mom, wife, and business owner? Do you experience mom guilt? How do you handle it?
Balance as a small business owner, mom, and wife is definitely a swinging pendulum. I feel like I can focus on one part at a time. When my home life is busy, I let things slip at the studio, and when the studio is extremely busy, like at Christmas, I miss out on things at home. The mental load of everything can be overwhelming, but over the years I have learned that delegating and asking for help is something I have to do. Also, having a good planner, making lists, and writing everything down is crucial. Small businesses these days are always “open,” so I get messages at all times of day and night on every platform. Sometimes it is in the middle of bedtime, or bathtime, and I have learned to ignore the messages until I am back in business mode, instead of immediately responding. My kids know and understand, but I don’t want them thinking that anything is more important than them. In a seminar years ago, I heard about scheduling and blocking off time for yourself and your family as a business owner. I try to make sure I am not doing business after school until the kids are in bed so that I am giving myself some time to just do the mom thing.
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
My husband Joey, our parents, family and friends, and my fellow studio owner friends that have kids. They can relate better than anyone else to the difficulties of running a studio business through a pandemic with small children.
When parenting gets hard, what’s something you tell yourself that gets you through?
They are only young for a little while, so enjoy every bit- every meltdown, time-out, tearful nightmare, every hug, everytime they need you constantly, because it will go by so fast and I will miss it one day.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
Give yourself grace. Everything doesn’t have to be picture-perfect.
Name one thing you want your kid(s) to look back on and remember about their childhood and you as their mom.
I hope that they remember I rooted for them to chase their dreams, that it was a fun childhood, and they were so loved.
What are your future plans and goals?
To just keep growing and stay healthy as a business. When we had to close our doors during the pandemic, it drove me to think outside the box to offer pottery to go and create a system for pickups and drop-offs. It was scary, but it showed me we could get through almost anything. I hope we can always continue to adapt when needed and offer a creative outlet for local families.
Follow along with Allie and The Painted Pig on all the socials for the latest creative updates!
Check out the website for more Pottery to Go or come in the studio! (Reservations recommended on the weekends)
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Instagram and Facebook: @thepaintedpig