What does your business do?
Shelton Studios Inc is a custom metal fabrication studio. We offer welding, machining, and finishing for an array of custom architectural metal projects. Shelton Studios specializes in stairs, doors, and custom hardware.
Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started?
I started a business after spending years working in other welding shops and construction. I realized that I enjoyed the entire process of metal fabrication—from client meetings and project development, to the material order, welding, finishing, and installation. The only way I could be a part of all the different roles was to start my own business.
Also, as a sculptor, I needed a studio to make my art, and the only way to afford a studio was to run a business out of it.
What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?
The biggest lesson I learned the first year was that I needed help. At first, I hired my other metalworking friends to help with gig work but quickly realized I needed to have actual employees and clear job descriptions.
What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner?
The most surprising thing about becoming a business owner is that even though I am always on call, and there is no real start or end time to each day, I can use that to be flexible with my responsibilities as a mother. I may have to leave work early for a school event but I can go back in after dinner to finish up a project.
What is an aspect of running a business that you needed to learn more about when you started? How did you learn about it?
I think the hardest thing for me about running a business was learning how to manage employees. I learned how to manage both my expectations and theirs through trial and error. As a woman employing mostly men in a male-dominated industry, there has always been a dynamic that was new for a lot of my employees.