By Eugenia Jones
(This week, as part of an ongoing series highlighting non-natives who have chosen to live and establish businesses in McCreary County, “The Voice” spotlights Mehgan (Mehg) Marshall who arrived here eight years ago as a “foreigner” from Florida. Marshall is the owner of Pottery by Mehg in downtown Stearns.)
Mehg Marshall discovered McCreary County via a friend who had family members living in the area. After visiting the county in 2008, Mehg eventually made her move from Florida to Stearns in 2011 and opened her shop, Pottery by Mehg, in April 2012. She’s been here ever since, and now, with three dogs, five cats, and her own little house in Stearns, considers McCreary County home.
Marshall, who attended college in North Carolina and Tennessee, is known for her infectious grin and the signature work apron she wears while making pottery at her shop in downtown Stearns.
“I make functional, hand-thrown pottery on a pottery wheel in my shop,” Marshall said. “I have my own glaze recipes, and my pottery comes in a variety of colors. I offer a selection of pottery in my shop, and I also take orders and ship customized pottery to my customers.”
Marshall’s life goal has always been to have a working studio and shop. McCreary County offered a couple of appealing benefits that helped the talented artist make her dream come true.
“With its tourists, Stearns offers a good opportunity for this type of business,” Marshall noted. “Plus, the cost of overhead here is affordable for me.”
Marshall offered advice to those wishing to establish a business in McCreary County.
“You must have a five year plan,” Marshall cautioned. “As much as possible, be able to invest the money you make back into your business. Keep your living expenses low so you can reinvest in the business. I’d also urge everyone to volunteer and be active in civic organizations in McCreary County.”
Marshall is very active in McCreary County civic organizations and currently serves on the McCreary County Tourism Board and McCreary County Chamber of Commerce. She also volunteers to help with events hosted by the Historic Stearns District. As an artisan, she belongs to the prestigous Sheltowee Artist Guild and has her pottery available for purchase at locations across the state including: London Tourism Center, Carnegie Center (Somerset), Market on Main (Somerset), Rock Bottom Soaps, Levi Jackson State Park, Mammoth Cave, McCreary Mountain Craft Center, and the Mountain Heritage Artisan Guild and Gallery.
Marshall works diligently to ensure her McCreary County business is successful.
“I try to go the extra mile with my customers,” Marshall, who also offers pottery classes, noted. “Some artisans won’t do that. Tourists come through to ride the train, and I will take and ship customized orders to them. I participate in guilds and travel to do art shows. I do business through social media, and I am working on more wholesale opportunities. I also try to help other artisans by selling their works of art in my shop.”
For Marshall, the best part of starting a business in McCreary County has been interacting with the locals.
“The people here are so helpful,” Marshall remarked. “They go out on a limb to help and give ideas. They give you information you don’t know simply because, as a newcomer, you aren’t familiar with the area. In a lot of places, you won’t get that kind of help!”
For Marshall, living and establishing a business in McCreary County has been an interesting, but satisfying, change of pace.
“McCreary County is definitely not overcrowded like Florida,” she said with a laugh. “There’s definitely no comparison when it comes to traffic.”
She grinned as she spoke of relatives in Florida who still can’t believe most businesses in McCreary County close early at night.
“I’ve been here so long, I don’t even think about it anymore,” Marshall said with a laugh.