The Entrepreneur: ‘If I’m not busy enough, I don’t know what to do with myself’

The Entrepreneur: ‘If I’m not busy enough, I don’t know what to do with myself’

Sally Struever, 30

Owner of Eli Phant, Portland

www.eli-phant.com

It’s difficult to put Sally Struever in a category. With her husband, artist Peter Eiermann, she’s the owner of Eli Phant, a store on Congress Street featuring handmade home goods and accessories. She’s also a graphic designer, running the design firm, Port City Studios; a book publisher; real estate developer; volunteer for many different community groups; and she just started Tamworth Farm Knits, a knit accessories company named after her grandmother’s farm in Blue Hill.

“I’ve never had a job,” said Struever. “Both of my parents are business owners, and my role models were all people who had their own businesses and made their own way, so I assumed that’s the way I’d be doing it.”

She and Eiermann decided to move from Providence, R.I., to Portland six years ago because of her fond memories of visiting her grandmother in Blue Hill and a recent visit to the city as part of a traveling show of Providence artists who exhibited at Space Gallery.

Their decision to open Eli Phant more than two years ago came to them when they saw the space available on the east-end side of Congress Street.

“Because of our connections in the creative community we knew a lot of people who made great stuff so we started the shop as a way to support these small and independent businesses.”

Struever earned a degree in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design, but while in school she also got involved in community activism, which she continued to do after school and hasn’t stopped. Since moving to Portland she has been involved with Portland Buy Local, the Portland Public Art Committee, the Urban Land Institute, and most recently, with her community of other East End businesses.

“I feel like it’s really important to be involved at that civic level,” said Struever. “It’s a great way to meet interesting people who are not just self-concerned. When we first moved here that’s how we got plugged in.”

She started cutting back a little this spring to focus more on business and because the couple is expecting their first child in January. But don’t expect her to slow down too much.

“I find there’s a sweet spot between being too busy and not being busy enough, and I’m at my most productive when I’m right in that middle spot,” said Struever. “If I’m too busy I get overextended, but if I’m not busy enough, I don’t know what to do with myself.”

Sally Struever, the entrepreneur

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