June 21, 2023
Penobscot Bay Weddings and Events, LLC
When it comes time for one of the most important moments in a person’s life, Penobscot Bay Weddings and Events understands how to make one’s special day absolutely unforgettable.
Describe your business in one sentence.
Penobscot Bay Weddings and Events, LLC is a tented, waterfront wedding venue on shores of Penobscot Bay in Winterport.
What unique perspective/skills do you bring to your business?
Growing up on this property, I bring a lifetime of love for these grounds and the region’s natural beauty. My mother poured her heart into developing this property and sharing it with anyone and everyone. We lost her to Early Onset Alzheimer’s in 2020 and the venue is a way that I try to keep her legacy of love and hospitality alive.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in starting your business? In running it?
One of the biggest challenges has been finding enough time to do it all! My husband is a teacher and devotes his summers to the venue. I run the business arm of the venue year-round and also have a part-time job to supplement the income variability of a young company. We have two amazing and lively children who are now 4 and 1. They were 3 years and 3 months old when we began our business. The business often requires me to work 7 days a week, even in the winter. On those weekends, my hubby is a solo dad and it isn’t easy for either of us!
You know you’re a hearty business-owning Mainer when you’re covered in paint and sweat, talking with a bride on the phone in your left hand, breastfeeding baby in your right arm! I have a wonderful photo of my husband hand-digging a trench with a baby on his chest… we will do anything necessary to provide for our kids. But it hasn’t been easy!
Did SBDC/CEI help you overcome any of these challenges? Describe how you have worked with our team.
The age-old saying “work smarter, not harder” is constantly in my head. My Business Advisor, Allison, is my “smarter”. Starting a business is just one strategic decision after another. Not only can these decisions be stressful, but they are always clouded by our own enthusiasm and personal vision. Having a knowledgeable, supportive, unbiased person to digest things with has been invaluable. Additionally, Allison has dedicated months to helping me access the right funding I need to bring our business to the next level. Our business would not be where it is today without my SBDC Advisor.
What are your hopes for your business in the next 1–3 years?
I hope to build the infrastructure needed to not only host dream weddings for wonderful people who love Maine as much as I do, but to provide on-site accommodation for a number of their guests. I hope to bring the venue to a place where it can support me full time through the year and other staff during the summer. Most of all, I hope that our business will continue to bring my children closer me with me, my husband, and their grandparents as we develop our favorite place in the world and share it with others.
What steps are you taking to reduce your business’s carbon footprint and/or make your business environmentally sustainable? What might make it easier to improve your business’s environmental sustainability or climate resilience?
One thing we have done is use our business as a platform to support environmental causes and law makers who support environmental protections. The League of Conservation Voters asked me to appear in an ad supporting Janet Mill’s environmental agenda in the most recent gubernatorial race. This was filmed at the venue and highlighted our family as small business owners who rely on a healthy and clean Maine to survive.
More specific to our carbon footprint, at the venue the private residence runs off solar panels. One day I would LOVE to buy more solar panels and use that to fuel the rest of the venue. Incentives to help us finance that would be amazing. Currently our venue vehicle is a beat-up gas-guzzling truck (it was cheap!). One day we aspire to have a much more efficient vehicle. Any financial incentives and help there would be beneficial.
In your opinion, what makes a job a good job? How are you providing good jobs for yourself and your employees?
A good job is good for your mental health. Our venue gives me the freedom to be creative, to connect with people, and to hopefully keep my family’s property in the family indefinitely. The venue has given us a reason to bring my children to their grandfather’s house multiple times a week, and for us to all work outside together. The freedom to manage my own schedule, to get fresh air and Vitamin D, to be creative, to bring people together, and to spend time with my family… now that’s a good job!
If you identify with a specific group—veterans, rural residents, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrants, Black entrepreneurs, etc.—do you have any words of wisdom for others from that group starting or running a business?
I am a mom. I’ll speak to that.
If you own a business and you are a mom… You are a warrior. You are a badass. I encourage you to seek out other moms in your industry. Share how hard it is to pay for daycare while you are starting a new business. Vent about how hard it is to take a client call with a screaming baby on your hip. Shame grows in silence, and many of the reasons our young businesses can be stressful and slow to grow is because motherhood never takes a break or slows down. Let’s own how GREAT we are for starting a business, for modeling for our children that we can create our own destiny if we work hard and stick with it, but let’s not insulate and feel any shame if the business doesn’t grow as quickly as we had hope. At minimum, we have two jobs, and we often have more. It is beautiful and it is exhausting- let’s never let it be lonely.
Looking to Start or Grow Your Business?
You have big ideas. Our business experts are here to help you succeed. Through workshops, peer groups and one-on-one advising, we help people across the state get the information and support they need to start or grow their Maine business. In addition to providing general assistance to businesses at any stage, CEI has experts in child care and both marine and land-based food harvesting, growing and value-added production businesses, as well as tailored programs for women and immigrants and refugees.