Anne Smalley’s life has come full circle … and that circle is the shape of a fire pit. Born and raised in Tuscaloosa, AL, Anne finished business school at the University of Alabama and moved to Boston to work as a Municipal Bond Coordinator. When she later returned to Tuscaloosa, one final job in finance would eventually be traded for a position in her family business of steel fabrication.
Making industrial steel tank heads for more than two decades has given Anne a keen eye for the elegant workings of steel. Combine that with her Southern sense of style and you’ve got the sleek and timeless Seasons Fire Pits that everyone wants. Word of mouth has sparked a long list of customers, from friends with backyards to huge high-end celebrity events. Get to know the woman behind the company customizing fire pits from two feet to 16 feet in diameter. You’ll wish you were talking to Anne Smalley by a roaring fire, wine glass in hand.
Tell us how the family steel business started making fire pits? Did you see this coming?
No! And I didn’t think I would return to Tuscaloosa to work with my father in his steel fabrication business either!
When my father passed, I took over the reins. I had many customers contact me to make custom fire pits for restaurants, resorts, and backyards. I decided to create a product that I would like in my own backyard. I wanted something that would hold up to all the elements and last a lifetime. We still make tank heads for oil and gas, pressure vessels, and the food industry, plus anchors for mooring. But I think my father would be pleased to see how we have diversified to include fire pits.
It really feels like you’re creating a lifestyle and a community with this company. Can you speak to some cool things that have happened around your fire pits?
The feedback we get from our customers has been phenomenal! They email pictures of their fire pits in their outdoor living space, send us recipes to try on the fire pit, and call us with tidbits. They’ll tell us about the fire pit parties they have planned and the multiple uses they’ve found for your fire pits: fountains, wells to ice down drinks, birdbaths, and planters. We have also sent fire pits to fabulous events such as the Yves Saint Laurent fashion show in Malibu and a Super Bowl event.
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What’s something that people are often surprised to learn about you?
That I can weld.
What’s on the horizon for Seasons Fire Pits?
I am constantly trying to keep up with what our customers want. During the pandemic, everyone wanted a fire pit with a lid. We designed a lid that could also be used as a table. Another suggested a grate, so we came up with a teepee design that improves burning by allowing a more even airflow. We were also asked to manufacture fire pits that can be converted to gas. The latest design is a fire pit with a lip. We want to continue to design the best quality fire pits that will last a lifetime.
Did the fire pit business boom during the pandemic?
Yes! Everyone wanted to elevate their outdoor living space. We worked overtime to keep up with the orders. We like to ship our fire pits within 48 hours of the order, but the freight lines weren’t able to accommodate the number of fire pits we were shipping out daily. This was frustrating. We had customers who needed the fire pit for time-sensitive reasons like one small family wedding in Aspen that needed it for the big day, or the restaurants and bars that were trying to serve outside and keep diners warm. We wanted to get them to the customers for their special events and as quickly as possible, but the freight lines posed a challenge.
Where can we find you on your days off?
I love to work in the garden — it is so rewarding. I also love exercising, cooking, and traveling.
Time for a “lightning round” of questions.
- Last vacation: Jumby Bay Island in Antigua
- Last best meal: Chargrilled lobster at Jumby Bay
- Favorite hidden gem in Tuscaloosa: PurifyU — a wellness studio
- What’s on your bedside table: Believe It! by Jamie Kern Lima
- Go-to birthday present (to give): Charcuterie board
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?
My father told me that to make your dreams come true, you must set your goals high, develop a plan, and persevere.
Besides faith, family, and friends, name three things you couldn’t live without.
Running, my cell phone to connect with my two boys (both of whom have moved away from Tuscaloosa), and a glass of wine by the fire pit.
Thank you for chatting, Anne! For more information about Seasons Fire Pits, head to seasonsfirepits.com. All photos submitted by Anne Smalley.
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