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Ryemarkable Alison Relyea!

Name: Alison Relyea

Business: Freelance writer, Rye Historical Society Director of Education

Length of time in business: four years

Number of kids and ages: 3 kids; ages 10, 8 and 6

Pets: We have a dog named Chewbacca for a year while our friends live overseas, and we can’t wait to get our own! We also have two leopard geckos, Cleo and Cassie, and a fish named Bones

Before this business, I had a career as an: elementary school teacher in Manhattan. Right out of college, I worked in fashion and then marketing for a fragrance company. I started the Bank Street Museum Education program at night while writing fluffy fragrance descriptions at my day job. Soon I left the fragrance world to focus on graduate school and start teaching. I taught in New York for eight years before moving to Rye.

I started writing and working at the RHS because: I love writing of all types, and particularly love writing stories about people, moments in history and current events. I have done content writing for small businesses, too. Everyone has stories to tell, and I love getting words down on paper in a way that creates connections.

What I love most about what I do now: I am constantly learning and pushing my abilities. I am also meeting other people with creative passions and finding ways to collaborate. I love working at Rye Historical Society because I am part of a dynamic team with a shared mission, working every day to capture the stories – past and present – that make Rye such a special community. It is also this special place where my love of history, teaching and writing intersect. My favorite thing about my personal writing is my writing group. The women in this group support one another, listen, provide feedback and dream big. I walk out of each week overflowing with ideas.

To start this, I had to: Figure out what I love to do that would balance well with my family life. Writing is an escape for me and a tool for processing the big and little moments life brings. It helps me look outward and reflect inward, finding the beauty in the details. Writing is also a skill that I can use to help others who are building their businesses.

I met Sheri from Rye Historical Society at an Enterprising Moms meeting years ago when she was looking for a writer. I began writing stories for the Historical Society, and last summer the timing was perfect for me to get back into the world of museum education in a greater capacity. I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to work at Rye Historical Society, uncovering stories from the past, digging into research and connecting with students and families in the community to bring the past to life.

That may not have answered the question, but I guess the answer is I had to be open to trying new things, open to not knowing what is next, and dip my foot in to test the water and see what feels right!

The biggest challenge I faced was: Leaving the classroom after my third child was born, and moving to Rye without that fixed identity as a teacher. I am now glad I took those risks, as I absolutely love the way my life journey has led to this professional one!

I overcame that challenge by: Giving myself the space and time to try new things in Rye. I have done some volunteering, networking and have gotten involved in things like local politics, all of which were not part of my everyday life in New York. By feeling things out and taking steps in different directions, I have discovered new passions and built on my past experiences.

Having a business in Rye is great because: This is my community, and when I connect with other business owners and see the impact that my writing and the Rye Historical Society have on people, I feel great pride in this town. Another reason Rye is a great place to be a writer is I see inspiration all around me, in the growing literary community, visual arts, music, nature, and all the other learning opportunities throughout our town. It helps to be surrounded by remarkable (Ryemarkable) women, and I have a five-minute commute!

My best tip for fellow entrepreneurs is: Do not be afraid to take risks, and don’t feel like you should have everything figured out before you take those first steps. You won’t know the answers to your questions or what feels right until you try. Starting anything new is a game of trial and error, and when we are too focused on planning the next steps in a linear way, we may miss some interesting opportunities or a tangent that leads to something we never imagined.

My website is:

The cemetery is Anzio, Italy, where my grandfather fought in WWII. He made it home injured but alive, or else I wouldn’t be here! Part of the reason I feel so strongly about the importance of history - from family stories to world history.

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