This International Women’s Day, we’re thinking about all the ways women can lift each other up—but one area hit extra close to home: our own Hometown Heroes program, which we run in partnership with Nest. Each of our Heroes (who are makers and creatives we love from across the country) has the opportunity to match with a peer mentor to guide them through the process, talk shop and support one another as they run their small businesses. A pairing that stood out? Ceramists Lalese Stamps of Lolly Lolly Ceramics and Peyton Flynn of Cloud 9 Clay. They let us listen in on a convo about how their mutual mentorship helped move their businesses forward, what they learned from each other and why there’s no need to try to make it alone.

Peyton & Lalese

Peyton: When we were first matched together in the program, I think we were familiar with each other’s work, which was cool. And being in the same medium is really helpful, because I know a lot of other like-minded small businesspeople, but it can be hard to understand the way that clay works, if you don’t work with it yourself. Also, when we matched, we were both in the middle of moving—remember?

Lalese: Yes, that’s right!

Peyton: We were in weirdly similar places—different, but similar—and it's been really awesome.

Lalese: Absolutely. And we started off our mentorship in a pretty structured way—creating goals and checking in on them every two weeks. Then, over time, it transcended from that to just supporting each other, sharing what we had going on and overcoming obstacles that we’ve experienced.

Peyton: Yeah, that was cool. I think day by day it can feel like you have a bunch of stuff on your list and on your plate, but then having that check-in together every two weeks makes you realize, “Damn, actually, I have come a long way from there.” That encouragement was really nice.

Lalese: You really did grow so much, so fast. Every time we’d check in, you’d be doing something cool, like opening your retail space and offering workshops. I was like, “Wow, that's so sick!” The evolution of that was really great to see.

Peyton: Aww, thanks!

Lalese: Now that we know each other better, we’ll definitely continue checking in and seeing how we can support each other in different ways, even if it’s something as simple as sharing an event we have going on.

Peyton: Yeah, I feel lucky to have this little network. It’s pretty essential. I don’t think it’s necessary to do everything alone if you can reach out for help.

Lalese: That’s something I learned from you, Peyton. You’re so resourceful, reaching out to people like your partner and your friends to help bring everything to life. Sometimes we forget how it really does take a team of people to make things happen.

Peyton: That’s true. I did manage to get a bunch of people to help get my retail space together in a super scrappy way, just because honestly, I didn’t have the money to hire professionals. That’s one of the coolest things about being a small business owner—realizing, “wait, I know this person can do this, and maybe this person can help with that.” A lot of times people are down to do some trade and energy exchange, make it mutually beneficial.

Lalese: Yep, gotta work with what you’ve got.

Peyton: Exactly. Well, thank you. I appreciate you saying that. You’ve inspired me in so many ways, too, Lalese! The coolest thing you’ve shown me is that really anything is possible. Seeing all the stuff you’ve done and what’s on the horizon, plus the fact that ceramics has taken you there. I feel like the sky is the limit, and you’re proof of that. Just getting to meet each other has been cool. If nothing else, I feel like now we’re friends.

Lalese: Yeah! Sometimes all you need to understand is, “Oh, I'm not alone. We’re all in this.”

Thanks so much, Peyton and Lalese (!). Want to learn more about our Hometown Heroes? Head over here.

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