Suzanne Molley is #MadeForKnoxville.
For Suzanne, the stress-relieving power of pasta making is magical. Through Pastabilities, she intends to share her love for fresh pasta with the community while building up others around her.
It all started with a craving for freshly made pasta. Before she knew it, Suzanne’s taste for fresh pappardelle had turned into a new business venture.
As a transplant from Kentucky, Suzanne was used to having access to locally made fresh pasta. Seeing the absence of this in Knoxville, she set out to learn how to make pasta herself. Through her hard work as a farmer and an attorney for entrepreneurs, she has learned to support herself and other business owners for several years. Now as the founder of Pastabilities, she hopes to be a source of fresh pasta and community empowerment. Inspired by a nonprofit in Kentucky, Suzanne plans to create jobs and build a support system for women who need it most.
She is also a member of The Real Good Kitchen and is surrounded by a community that encourages her to “make change through food.” No matter what hat she is wearing–pasta maker, farmer, or lawyer–Suzanne lives a life that is rooted in passion and desire for community change.
“For me, pasta is therapeutic.”
In Their Own Words…
I own a small-batch, premium pasta company. I make fresh, handmade pasta from premium ingredients for sale in East Tennessee.
For me, pasta is therapeutic. Rolling out the dough gives me an opportunity to really let go of all the bad stuff that is bothering me. The more you push, pull and pound the dough, the more it fights back. By the time I knead the dough to the point it’s starting to fight me back, then all of the tension I was holding on to is gone. I’ve let it all go, and now the dough and I can rest. After a short rest, I feel like I’ve been transformed and now it’s time to transform the dough into magical happy food! Pasta!
But I don’t do this for me. I do this because for the last decade I have wanted to bring a business to the East Tennessee area that will give something back to our community. In my other life, I have been an attorney in Kentucky for the past 20 years. While living there, I met the founder of this amazing organization that supports survivors of domestic violence. As part of its program, they have a farm where they grow flowers and herbs; and the people who come through their program work at this business and turn the things they grow into soaps, lotions and flower arrangements that they offer for sale. Through the operation of this business, survivors receive pay, they learn different skills, and they are part of a community. They support each other.
I wanted to bring a business like that to East Tennessee. I wanted to be able to build a company that can be run by survivors; provide them marketable skills, resources for professional development; support them in their journey; and empower them to build a stronger version of themselves so they can then turn around and help the next person in line do the same. That is what Pastabilities Pasta Company is all about. And that is why I do what I do.
What led to entrepreneurship:
My journey to entrepreneurship began 20 years ago when I was a baby lawyer at a mid-sized firm in Ohio. I worked as a transactional attorney from the very start, and just before I reached my first year of practice, I was laid off. Up to that point I had already put in 20 years of working for other people, so I decided if I was going to work that hard, I would work for myself. I became a “reluctant” entrepreneur. I didn’t really want to be an entrepreneur, but felt like it was my best option. So for the past 20 years, I represented entrepreneurs and businesses. I provided the legal base on which they could build their businesses, and have advised them on many different aspects of business ownership.
But my “big pivot” moment really didn’t occur until just over a year ago. I was born and raised in Knoxville and moved away 25 years ago. Five years ago, I decided to move back home to Knoxville, so I bought a farm and moved back… mostly. I still practice in Kentucky and have commuted back and forth a couple days each week. I was working in my office at the farm one day, and was really craving fresh pasta. In Kentucky, there’s a fresh pasta place where I could pick up fresh pasta to cook whenever I got the notion. This particular day, lunchtime came around and I thought, “I would love to make some fresh pappardelle for lunch. I wonder where I can buy it here!” I mean, this is Knoxville. We have everything here! It turns out, we didn’t. There was no fresh pasta company in Knoxville. That was my “aha” moment! I called my partner and told him, I found our business; that day, an entrepreneur and Pastabilities Pasta Company were born.
Pastabilities is a year old this July. In our first year, I have learned many hard lessons. I have learned a new industry. I have learned how to learn from others’ mistakes. I have learned systems, operations, marketing, bookkeeping, manufacturing, public relations… and the list goes on.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is this:
This is hard work. No. Seriously. This is really, really hard work! But I’ve learned that I have the fortitude to do things I never thought I would be able to do. I have learned that I can dig down deep and find amazing strength, resolve, and determination to do whatever is necessary to turn the company of my dreams into a reality, little bit by little bit. I wake up some days and think I don’t have an ounce of get-up or go left in me, only to find there was another ton of it in reserve. I’ve learned that if your reason for doing something is bigger, scarier and more important than you, you find what you need within yourself to make it happen, even when you’re totally spent – physically, emotionally, and financially. That is what keeps me going.
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