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DirtRoads

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About DirtRoads

  • Rank
    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 06/01/1957

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  • Website URL
    http://www.dirtroadspottery.com

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Edinburg, MS
  • Interests
    MMO's like World of Warcraft. Beta tester for new WOW type games. Making the world a better place for feral cats. Helping teenagers and adults cope with and break free from video game addiction.

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  1. Can anyone recommend a clay that is close to Laguna #60 (brown clay with grog)?
  2. I think your pottery looks good. And booth too, especially for a first display. I'm not that far from you ... in Mississippi. Used to have stores in Memphis and Nashville so I am somewhat familiar with the area. I sell mugs for $20. I really like your colors. Only 500 people ... I would say $225 is good.
  3. I've never had a problem producing an income from pottery. The first year was mostly learning. Actually, it's one of the easiest businesses I've owned. I don't explore much on the artistic side. Started a full line jewelry business to go with the pottery. I stick to free standing retail, since it's a business model I have done well with in the past. Not sure how people go about making a purely creative pottery business. I just find pieces that work and produce them over and over. Experiment with color, but stick to 5 to 6 best selling colors. This Christmas season, I will pare down to 2 to 4 colors. Half my sales are November/December. The economy is BOOMING. I'm seeing 50% plus sales increases this year. I don't expect that to extend to November & December, because my sales were close to cap last year. In most businesses I've owned, you see exponential growth for a few years from tweaking. After that, you set "plan" to about 10% growth. Only way I saw exponential growth was going back to that old product/market paradigm. New products/same customers always seemed to work well for me. This year the jewelry did expand my customer base somewhat by appealing to the more local market. Before, my business was 70% destination. Now it's around 50%. I think it may be more of a business than a profession. I have seen numerous failures over the years and fail basically falls down to a few reasons: - People can't produce enough to make a real living. - The items they make are so STUPID or dull that almost no one will buy them. They are not listening to the customer. Some potters don't really have a realistic grip on their product. If customers aren't buying, they are either at the wrong venue or the product is just wrong. I recently walked through a wholesale show that I went to last year. I had close to a 100% prediction on who would be back this year. I saw new potters this year with the same lack luster products. Probably because I come from a successful retail back ground, I KNOW what will sell and mostly what will not. You've got to listen to what the customer is buying, not to just what they are saying. - Potters can't figure out the distribution for their product - They don't have the personal finances to make it until the business cash flows. And they under estimate the upfront financial investment. I would start this part time, mostly as a hobby and hone your craft. Pottery is a decent part time hobby business, as long as you can put the money up front to get in to it. Recently someone came to me, wanting to know how to make an extra $500 a month. I'm not sure I can recommend any business that can do this in the beginning. Most people will tie up more than they profit.
  4. DirtRoads

    Websites And Sales

    I have 2 website: https://dirtroadsjewelry.com/ This one is e commerce. With Shopify. It's a decent platform. Only slight knowledge of HTML and a little bid of Liquid needed to do this site. (may have a done a small of amount of C ... did this almost 3 years ago and now I just update). I did EVERYTHING myself on this one. I guess I would recommend Shopify (certainly would not recommend against it.) I am not displeased with the sales. But not quite high enough to hire someone to fill orders. During December, sales are much higher and I could hire someone. But for one month .... so guess who has to do this. I'll be finishing up and check website and have to go out at 10pm and fill 3 or 4 orders. I need to update with a few key products right now. The other site is just an informational type site. It has served me quite well over the years. I think a site of this type compliments any type of promotion you might do. Currently I have a 60 foot outdoor bill board on a major highway never Pearl River Resort & Casino and having a feed to website is critical for success. I do a few ads every year and always see an influx of traffic to the site after an advertisement. I find an informational site very good for the two shows I do too. http://dirtroadspottery.com/ This site is basically word processing. If you can do Word, you can do a site like this. Hosted by Network Solutions. I'm okay with Network Solutions. Previously, I had a substantial internet business that required 3 full time employees. It was hosted through Monster Commerce. I did the first site but then hired someone from Monster to do more professional graphics and set up because we got a lot of sales and traffic, to the point I had my own server there. I did a lot of key word advertising for this site and eventually it got pretty expensive. Got a chance to sell this business and did. Never regretted selling it. I learned almost everything I know about websites, HTML, search engines, etc. from reading. I used to go to Barnes & Noble every Saturday night after the store closed and read about it. Of course I had a decent computer background. But this learning is one of the things that has benefited me in all of my businesses. The amount of online sales growth is going to have more impact on retail sales in the future. I think with handmade and unique, there will still be a market. But for national brands that I used to sell online like Yellow Box Shoes and others like Aromatique and Arthur Court, there is going to be less opportunity for independent retailers. The manufacturers of these nationally known brands are soaking up the sales themselves. Example, I used to sell Aspen Mulling Spice in my stores during the 4th quarter. Lots of spice boxes, even in the mall stores and a couple years during Christmas on a mall kiosk. After my last store burned, customers would ask me for Aspen. I finally got some room to add a few products and sales were lack luster. I asked one of my old customers if she had noticed I had Aspen and she said "oh yeah, after you closed I went online and got like 10 boxes to get the free freight". You make it, you sell it ... that's what I see in the future of a lot of retail. There will still be a market for the unique and handmade. Because it's going from the maker to the consumer, cutting out all middlemen. Potters don't have to do online, as many, including myself, don't do it. But I would not totally discard Etsy and other online opportunities. We've had a few on this board, that have been quite successful. I always search for success of any type and try to learn.
  5. DirtRoads

    Websites And Sales

    ^ That's why I expanded into a full scale jewelry business. Wholesale, retail and internet. And do business consulting on the side. Won't deny wishing that deal to buy my pottery business 3 years ago didn't fall through. Pottery does make a pretty good income ... just have to consider the amount of work. I know internet business is there for pottery. The most searched term on my jewelry website is "pottery". Just the packing deters me plus the fact that I'm a 100% sell through now ... with NO intention of expanding. No reason to make more to sell online. I get to my $2K self imposed weekly quota and quit. Finished it yesterday and that's it for the week. And that's for 11 months of the year max. Reaching about $90K a year and I'm done. Operation has scaled back to 4 employees and 2 of them are part time. Not replacing people.
  6. I target to keep my variable costs to 25%. (for bowls, platters, etc ... different numbers for ornaments & jewelry) 7% for clay 8% for glaze 5% for electric 5% for elements, kiln repair. Of these costs, there is more variance in glaze costs. 8% is the high end cap and only 1 glaze is close to this number (red). Actually I've raised prices a bit to accommodate labor production so this number is probably around 6% now. I have one glaze that is considerably cheaper, around 1%. The key is not to exceed this 8%. We just tested one glaze and cost was 5% of selling cost. I've backed my prices into these numbers. Note: Glaze costs include the freight cost.
  7. DirtRoads

    Employees vs Productivity

    I forgot about Wess Roberts. Ordered all the ones I haven't read. That Straight A's book is great. I also read that Star Trek one and was really excited to see you mention the one on Attila. Don't really know how I over looked it. Someone gave me the Warrior one for Christmas one year. I just don't run in academic circles now and it's been awhile someone recommended a book. Thanks!
  8. The best reason ever for stepping aside! Thank you for all your input over the years.
  9. DirtRoads

    Dust collection in studio!

    In addition to building a vac system, somewhere on the board someone mentioned to never go directly from your shop to your living quarters if that is possible. I now have separate areas and have to walk outside to get to my living area. Really cut down the dust coming in there. Also, I never sweep and use a wet mop instead. (read that here too) Mix glaze in a deep bucket pouring water over it to avoid dust clouds. As for the young children, maybe keep them out of the area for dust safety.
  10. DirtRoads

    Employees vs Productivity

    I've always been totally fascinated with Attila. Have read and watched a lot about him. Will read!
  11. DirtRoads

    Employees vs Productivity

    Yes I need to do a new time study as you suggested. No one here loads kilns except me ..... I don't really trust them to do it. One employee will unload. I look at production on a daily basis. My loss ratio is very very low, less than 1%. I personally control the drying and care of drying pottery. Kiln/equipment maintenance runs 1 to 2% of gross sales. I do NOT want to expand. If anything, I'm cutting back and just raising prices. I'm at 100% sell thru. Yeah I hear you about the texting. I had the 50 plus employee business in another business before pottery, and I'm not going back there. I've got 2 really good employees. Going to check the production next week and see where the numbers are now. I had these numbers figured out a few years ago but different employees.
  12. I have a really hard time getting some employees to put out what I call "production". One just quit and I really don't think it's worth replacing them. Sometimes, I feel it's just a "lateral movement of money". Anyone have numbers for glaze and clay production? From my experience, ideal numbers would be 10X wages for clay and 15X wages for glaze. I've had employees that can meet this number. Is this too demanding? I'm at the point of just cutting back and upping the prices to meet demand.
  13. https://www.sheffield-pottery.com/Diamond-Rotary-Tool-Tips-and-DiamondCore-Sanding-Pads-s/827.htm what grit to use? 60, 120, 240?
  14. DirtRoads

    IMG_0817.JPG

    Most of the pieces on this table are my pottery. Using various metal stands and tree trunk slices for height. Used a natural look for the floral here. Used 3 different colors for the containers, to add interest as opposed to a long table using one color.
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