In The News
Press + Radio
Childlike Wonder, Mid-Career Style: by Marybeth Cale
Want Purpose? Look to Others First: by Marybeth Cale
Interview with Greg Gattine, Radio Woodstock, at Samuel's Sweet Shop about Sinterklaas Hudson Valley and Living Rhinebeck Magazine 12/2/2016
Sunrise Show on I Heart Media with DCRCOC CEO Frank Castella, Jr and Marybeth Cale 10/18/2015
Word of Mom Radio Interview with Marybeth Cale on 9/24/2015
I Heart Radio Sunrise Show on 5/17/2015: Start at 12:26 for interview with Marybeth Cale
Chronogram Podcast: The Marvelous Mompreneurs. Listen to our interview and lively dialogue by clicking here.
Ulster County Radio Show – Topic: Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort with Marybeth Cale and Brian Clarke
An Interview with Thomas Cale: Poughkeepsie Journal; January, 2016: Inspiration Comes from All Around for Designer, Artist
Hudson Valley Good Stuff – December, 2013:
Cale Communications in Rhinebeck: Marybeth Cale helps Hudson Valley clients share their stories through PR
I met Marybeth Cale, founder of Cale Communications about 5 years ago around the same time I started the Hudson Valley Good Stuff blog. She has given me many good leads and tips since then. I’m delighted to interview her, and especially happy that Cale Communications become a sponsor in 2013.
Hudson Valley Good Stuff: Describe the genesis of Cale Consulting? How did you first become interested in pursuing a career in PR? When did you decide to set up your own office in Rhinebeck?
Marybeth Cale: I started Cale Consulting (now Cale Communications) after my second son was born, back in 2005, in an effort to achieve a healthier work-life balance. I felt that self-employment would allow me to “own” my time, which would give me the autonomy I needed to ensure that I could best meet the needs of my children, my husband, my extended family and friends, and, of course, myself. In addition, though, I also felt that having my own business could help me further my career goals, giving me a chance to work with a variety of clients who would, collectively, support my personal and professional development. My career, which had included development, public relations, and communications, gave me the skill-set necessary to launch a firm that could provide similar services for my clients, and although it took several years to build my clientele to the point where I could finally leave the traditional workforce to go full-time to my businesses (which only happened two years ago), it has exceeded my every expectation. I now develop and implement multi-faceted PR campaigns, which incorporate press releases, public speaking engagements, communications trainings, social media and email marketing campaigns, blogging, public statements, and overall writing/editing/publicity efforts. To me, PR is, simply put, about sharing stories.
Throughout my life, I have been learning how to craft and articulate messages for individuals, organizations, and businesses, and have always loved helping people connect through stories. It is very rewarding work, and as the daughter of an Episcopalian minister, I have been well-trained by my father, who I respect and admire to no end – he is one of the greatest communicators I have ever known. While I can’t even begin to try to match his natural ability to connect others to his messages, I will always try to emulate his good work in effectively engaging an audience. While my work is vastly different, he has been a role model and inspiration for me, and I hope to do some sort of good in the world by working with great clients who can help make a difference in the lives of others because their work is well-publicized enough to attract the attention they need.
HVGS: What is your average work day like?
Cale: My work day is definitely centered around my family life, so the days vary depending on the needs of my children. Most of the time, however, I spend my days drafting public statements, writing blogs or web copy, developing and distributing press releases, and reaching out to journalists to pitch stories. I also spend a great deal of time meeting with clients or their key stakeholders to develop timelines and campaign plans, and, of course, I always leave ample time for long walks, tennis, and lunch with my friends – all important to the creative process, and to my overall health and well-being, which of course has direct benefits for my clients and my family.
HVGS: What are the rewards and challenges of working in PR these days? Any challenges or rewards unique to the Hudson Valley?
Cale: It is incredibly gratifying to see a great story get the coverage it deserves, but there is no doubt that it can take months, or years, to get a publication to recognize the importance of a particular message. PR is a highly competitive industry, and it is critically important to stay very organized to ensure that potential is being maximized at all times. Working within the Hudson Valley has been really fantastic – I grew up in Rhinebeck and set up my office in the village because I truly believe in the wonderful synergy of a “downtown” business corridor. I have an expansive network of really terrific people in this region because I have spent most of my life here – and, true to the ‘small-town America’ culture, people really take care of one another. There has been a real outpouring of support in the way of referrals and connections from people who have known me since I was a young girl, or people who are now raising their own children alongside us, or community members who have gotten to know my husband and I through event committees and the like. I am deeply grateful to be a part of a caring community that fosters the growth of small business.
HVGS: What do you love most about working and living in the Hudson Valley?
Cale: I think that the Hudson Valley offers all of us who live and work here the perfect marriage of small-town America and the progressive, cosmopolitan New York City influence. Everyone works hard to preserve and protect the old-fashioned values of caring for one another and nurturing our community, but all in context of an exciting push toward responsible development. I love walking down the streets of Rhinebeck and knowing most of the faces I greet – but I also love that we have exploded in popularity and countless tourists are making the Hudson Valley a high-in-demand vacation destination, providing our communities with opportunities for long-term economic growth.
HVGS: Which clients are you focusing on now during the holidays?
Cale: Right now I am working on a project for Abilities First, my former employer and first client – an organization with a 50-plus-year history of providing educational, residential, clinical, and vocational services to individuals with disabilities throughout the Hudson Valley. We have been working tirelessly to get the word out there about their comprehensive programs and services, all delivered in a nurturing, warm atmosphere which really fosters self-advocacy for the people they serve. Their work, which really began around the time when people started recognizing that people with disabilities did not belong in institutions, symbolizes a beautiful human rights movement which has really taken shape throughout the last several decades, and has resulted in hundreds of success stories through the years. We are now collecting stories from people who have children with disabilities who are willing to write essays about the victories that their families have experienced along the way. We will pull all of these stories together and publish an ebook in 2014, as part of our LOVE OUR KIDS campaign, which celebrates the exciting milestones of individuals with disabilities at every age and stage. You can learn more about it by visiting their blog site – abilitiesfirstny.wordpress.com,or Facebook.com/AbilitiesFirstSchool - the book is designed to inspire those who are facing similar challenges, and the writers need not have ever had any experience specifically with Abilities First. If you have ever loved or taken care of an individual with a disability and want to share a story of hope and inspiration, you can participate in the project.
HVGS: What are you most excited about or looking forward to in 2014?
Cale: Every year brings the promise of new experiences and new people – I look forward to embracing whatever new opportunities present themselves to me, and hope to help others in some small way through the work I do to publicize the stories that matter.
Chronogram – December, 2013:
The Amazing Adventures of the Marvelous Mompreneurs BY HILLARY HARVEY
Marybeth Cale is an early riser. While her family sleeps, she flips on the light in her home office and launches into answering e-mails, managing social media campaigns, and developing a list of priorities for the day while sipping a steamy cup of coffee. Cale is the sole proprietor of Cale Communications, a public relations and communications firm in Rhinebeck. She’s a natural writer whose effervescent personality even bursts through e-mails. For her, the work is about helping her clients to share their stories in ways that will resonate.
Once her two boys wake up, Cale spends breakfast with them. They walk to school together and then she heads to her office in the village. After a few hours of writing press releases and planning client events and speaking engagements, Cale rewards herself with some time for physical activity, which makes her more creative and productive for the rest of the day. After meetings and calls to journalists, Cale heads over to the school to pick up her boys. Afterschool time is reserved solely for karate, homework, and playtime with them. Then there’s dinner, and Cale visits with her husband. If she’s on deadline, she works a couple more hours in her home office before going to bed. “I try to maintain a routine which serves the needs of everyone in my life—my children, my husband, my clients, my friends,” Cale says, “and, of course, with some time in the day for me, which is critical to feeling healthy and joyful.”
This is the work-life balance in action, Hudson Valley style. And Cale is not alone. When Arlene Deahl was eight months’ pregnant, the online tobacconist whose warehouse she managed moved out of state, and her job search for other managerial positions in the area didn’t pan out. But all that was fortuitous. “After you have the baby, you never want to leave them,” Deahl says. Like so many mompreneurs, those entrepreneurial spirits who balance motherhood and business, Deahl found that her retreat to home-life actually opened a door to her own dreams. Being home with her baby was the first time she was ever without work, but she needed the income. So she turned to what she had already been doing.
For the past 12 years, Deahl and her mother-in-law have been mass baking holiday cookies. As more people were added to the rounds, Deahl got up to baking 1,500 cookies in three days. “It was the passion that I never had time for,” she says. So Deahl took a course on running a home baking business, and Banana Moon Baking Company was born.
Focusing on quality, often local, ingredients and freshness without preservatives, Deahl offers people the opportunity to eat homemade without having to make it themselves. On heavy teething days, Deahl might bake at 11pm. With calls to customers and dough mixing fit around naps and toddler classes, Deahl is able to create her own schedule. Deahl’s mother-in-law has moved back to Kentucky now, but she gets regular cookie care packages and baby artwork.
The Opt-Out Generation
When Cale set out to start her own publicity firm, she was looking to grow as a businessperson, but also own her time. A colleague at the employer she was leaving e-mailed her Lisa Belkin’s infamous article, “The Opt-Out Generation,” from the October 26, 2003 New York Times Magazine. It talked about the trend of affluent, well-educated women leaving their high-powered jobs to stay home and raise families. “It felt discouraging at the time,” Cale says. “My vision was not at all about sacrificing my career.” Belkin’s piece led to subsequent books and articles, and an important national conversation about the nature of women’s work and the American workplace. In a follow-up story for the New York Times Magazine this summer, Judith Warner wrote: “The women of the opt-out revolution left the work force when the prevailing ideas about motherhood idealized full-time, round-the-clock, child-centered devotion.” Warner revisits many of the original interviewees to learn that they often experienced feelings of lowered self-worth, difficulty reentering the workforce when children grew, and divorce. “When traditional gender arrangements were put into place, there was a subtle slide into inequality,” Warner wrote.
Denise Summerford is an actor, and she was in a show Off-Broadway at the time that she was commuting daily from her home in the Hudson Valley to work in Manhattan. She realized that she was spending more time traveling than being with her three-year-old daughter. She knew she was lucky to be able to make a living doing what she loved, and she even won a prestigious Drama Desk Award for that show. “It was incredibly hard and fulfilling all at once,” she says. “But I learned during that period that I could have it all, just not all at the same time.” That’s when she knew she needed a career shift and thoughts of opening a theater school started to occupy her mind. That direction had presented itself to her before, but it never seemed like the right moment. This time, Summerford borrowed library books and read up on starting an enrichment program. “It all seemed so daunting, but I decided to go for it.”
Half Moon Theater School of the Arts in Poughkeepsie offers something unique to the kids of the Hudson Valley: serious training by people who have lived as actors. The faculty, including Summerford and her husband, have degrees in acting as well as professional experience. Summerford thinks this is important. She still performs, but, with the school and now two daughters in the mix, auditioning and getting that next role isn’t the desperate experience that it was in the past. Instead, Summerford aims to give back and inspire the next generation of Broadway stars and theatergoers.
Creating community is what Jessica Walsh is interested in doing too. If you walk into her shop, Illuminated Baby, in Woodstock, at any given moment, you might just find her sitting on the floor, covered with babies. Mostly it’s her own three-year-old daughter and the eight-month-old son of Asia Grant, another mom-preneur with the neighboring shop, Empty Spaces, a handmade furniture and decor store. Walsh and Grant often trade baby- and shop-sitting.
The shelves at Illuminated Baby are stocked with essentials (muslin blankets by aden + anais; Bummi’s prefolds and covers), as well as handmade indulgences by locals (beautiful handknits by Woolthings, organic bibs by Kribbe Handmade, and wooden toy vehicles by AEWooden). “I want to make the transition into parenting easier by doing the research and carefully choosing quality products on the market,” Walsh says.
Before becoming a mother, Walsh worked for 10 years as a mental health counselor with homeless and at-risk youth and young families. “It was during that time that I developed a passion for educating young mothers and working one-on-one to enhance the lives of both parent and child,” she says. When her daughter was born, Walsh decided to stay home and focus on raising her. “The time spent with my daughter far exceeded the benefits of having a second income, especially when you consider the cost of child care,” she says. But, sooner than she expected, Walsh craved that connection to community. She knew it would be difficult to find a job with the flexibility she desired. So the week before her daughter’s first birthday, Walsh opened the doors of Illuminated Baby. She hopes it’s a resource center for Hudson Valley families. You can ask Walsh about doula and child-care referrals, find out about a Mom’s Night Out she’s hosting, or sign up for workshops and progressive child development classes she’s organizing. “Like many mompreneurs, I find myself up late, starring blurry-eyed at the computer as I make my way down my to-do list,” she says. But she sleeps soundly, knowing that the items and opportunities she’s offering are ones that will be passed down through the generations.
But hidden in Belkin’s article was also this less-discussed one-liner: “Women leave the workplace to strike out on their own at equally telling rates; the number of businesses owned or co-owned by women jumped 11 percent since 1997, nearly twice the rate of businesses in general.” And that’s the piece that many middle-class women live—those who can’t afford to be without the second income, but who also can’t afford to have their incomes just cover daycare. Or those who just don’t want to stop working entirely.