Thursday, April 17, 2008

curious and swaggering

When I started this blog, it was going to be a record of my day to day in setting up and running a small pottery studio. It seems to have evolved a bit to include a lot of stuff about other aspects of my life. For a while I was feeling like this needed to be kept out of my blog and then I realized that all these other aspects of my life are really important to my work as a ceramic artist. I quit teaching school specifically so that I could spend more time with my family and doing the things I love to do. This led to working towards setting up my own studio all with a schedule that permits me to be with who I want and doing what I want, when I want (with clay drying schedules taken into consideration of course). I find that I need to remind myself of that whenever things get a little crazy in my studio and I keep thinking that I need to do more and be more. I have even been working on developing a little swagger. More of a metaphysical swagger than an actual swagger.

So this brings me to the point of this particular post. I feel like I have been a little lazy regarding my blog lately. I love to take photos, taking them almost everyday. This makes posting photos of what is going on in my life and studio simple, however, I have been neglecting to post much in the way of dialogue regarding studio life and ceramics in general. I think this is because I have these brilliant, long running dialogues in my head but they seem to happen when I'm in the bath or lying in bed, nowhere near my laptop. I have taken to writing down the point form ideas for blog posts in my daybook and have yet to flesh them out for you. Trust me, I do have a list of topics that I want to discuss.

So first up for discussion is the idea of marketing yourself and selling your wares. I opened my doors on Dec 1st 2007, so I am just at the beginning of figuring it all out. I have seen a lot of different systems and I have slowly started developing my own. Most of my ideas have come from watching what other people are doing and how that seems to be working for them. I try to have regular shop hours as this works best for me and customers. I have to be on a regularly planned schedule or I don't get as much done. I am much more likely to go for a walk or go out for coffee with friends unless I have a schedule to adhere to. So here are the parts to running my studio:

I wrote a business plan and created a cash flow before I even opened my doors. This is a REALLY important step. I refer back to my business plan and cash flow often and add ideas as I learn.

My winter schedule has been Mon, Tues, Wed, Thur, Sat from 12-5pm, closed on Fri and Sun. My summer schedule will be Mon through Sat 12-5pm. I am often in my studio by 10am starting to work, but I leave myself the option of noon as I may need to run errands, go for coffee, go to yoga etc.

I make all work in my studio by hand, most is thrown on the wheel, the rest is hand built. I make my own glazes with the exception of the bright red, orange, purple and lime green which are commercial glazes as I have not been able to accurately produce bright colours like these at cone 6.

I use stoneware (plainsman, m340, m370, m390) and porcelain (plainsman, p300, laguna Frost).

I teach handbuilding and throwing lessons on Wednesdays. My current session ends in May and I will not be teaching again until the fall as summer is busy.

I have two 'open house' shows in April and December showcasing new work and these have been very successful.

I participate in the Christmas Craft Show in Golden and I will be trying to add another Christmas Fair for next year.

I am going to participate in the summer's Farmers Markets in both Golden (Wednesdays 2-7) and Invermere (Saturday mornings).

I am operating out of my former garage which has been turned into a working gallery/studio. My kiln is in a separate building out back. My house and therefore gallery are located on the main street running through town, so I get a lot of tourist traffic. My open studio includes my gallery space at the front so that customers can watch me at work.

I have two distinct bodies of work: one functional (sold in my gallery and Jita's cafe) and one more sculptural and artistic that reaches completion on about a two year cycle. These collections concern themselves with feminism and media thus far. They have shown in local galleries and two pieces have travelled with a group show through the Kootenays.

I have a website, this blog and an Etsy site.

I use vistaprint to make business cards, brochures (to leave at the Chamber of Commerce), and flyers announcing sales/openings. I am a Chamber member, am going to be in their next shopping brochure and I advertise in the local newspaper and magazine in the issue running up to April and December open houses.

So, this is what I am doing so to run my business. I have learned a lot from other business owners as well as bloggers. Thank you so much! Now I want to know what you do? How do you sell your stuff? Do you schedule your production? Do you have a website and an Etsy site? Which is more effective? I know a lot of you are lurking (google analytics rocks!) so come out and tell me what works for you, how do you do it?

2 comments:

Michele said...

Congrats Cheryl! Sounds like you are on your way to having it all. I have just begun potting. It's something I've always wanted to do and since I've begun, realize more and more how very much I would love for this to be a career.

I look forward to hearing more about your day to day business and also how you got started. I'm not at a university. I'm taking classes from a local potter. Suggestions on reading materials would be extremely helpful.

Much success to you...

Michele said...

I forgot to say, I love your work.